Florida Workers' Compensation Insurance Law

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Who needs workers’ comp insurance in Florida?

It's important for business owners to know the requirements for workers’ compensation insurance. Florida workers’ comp law specifies that you carry this insurance if you’re in a non-construction industry and have more than four employees.

Workers’ compensation is a crucial part of small business insurance because it can cover medical bills, recovery costs, and partial missed wages if an employee is injured at work. It can also cover funeral costs and benefits to an employee’s family in the event of a fatality on the job.

By mandating workers’ comp insurance, Florida officials provide an incentive for businesses to keep employees safe and reduce the risk of lawsuits against business owners. That means that your small business insurance can:

  1. Cover medical expenses and lost wages if an employee is injured
  2. Pay legal expenses if an employee files a lawsuit related to a work injury or illness
  3. Comply with applicable workers’ comp laws

How many employees do you have to have for Florida workers’ compensation?

Florida law states that workers’ compensation insurance is required when a business has four or more employees, either full- or part-time.

There are special considerations for some employees, including corporate officers:

  • Sole proprietors and partners are automatically excluded from workers’ comp law, but they can purchase coverage by filing for election of coverage.
  • Construction businesses are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance for every employee, including contractors. They can exempt up to three corporate officers if each can demonstrate ownership of at least 10 percent of the company.

So, do you need workers’ comp for part-time employees? Unless they fall into one of the two exceptions above, the answer is yes. Independent contractors are not considered employees, and an employer is not required to carry workers’ compensation insurance for those individuals unless they are in the construction industry.

Insureon helps a variety of industries compare quotes and buy Florida workers’ compensation insurance policies. Whether you own a dental practice, photography studio, convenience store, or something altogether different, we can help you find a policy to meet your business needs. Start a free online application today.

Do you need workers’ comp if you are self-employed?

Whether or not a self-employed person is required to have workers’ compensation insurance depends on the nature of the work being performed.

Florida requires that even self-employed workers in the construction industry carry workers’ compensation insurance. If you’re in an industry that has less risk of physical injury and you have no employees, you might still decide that it’s a good idea to have coverage.

Even though you have medical insurance, if you get injured on the job, workers’ compensation coverage can help with lost wages and other expenses that would not be covered under your regular medical policy.

What are the penalties for not having workers’ compensation in Florida?

Employers that operate without the required workers’ comp coverage risk civil penalties. Usually, that means that the business would be subject to a stop-work order that requires all operations to stop until it complies with law and pays a penalty. The fee is typically equal to twice the amount the employer would have paid in premium for the preceding two-year period.

If the employer does not comply with a stop-work order, the action could result in criminal charges. You could also be subject to a stop-work order if:

  • Payroll is understated or concealed
  • Employees’ duties are misrepresented or concealed
  • There is any attempt to avoid paying workers’ compensation premiums

How much does workers’ compensation cost in Florida?

Workers’ compensation insurance costs vary by state, just like states differ with respect to who needs workers’ comp coverage. In Florida, the average cost is $1.32 per $100 in wages. However, because jobs have different risk factors, some insurance policies will be more expensive than others.

The National Council on Compensation Insurance provides hundreds of codes that are used to identify jobs. Those with a higher risk of physical injury will have higher insurance premiums than those that are less likely to result in injury.

Learn more about insurance costs for workers’ comp and other policies with Insureon’s insurance cost analysis page.

How does workers’ comp work in Florida?

Each state has certain nuances to its workers’ comp law, and Florida workers’ compensation is no exception. However, there are some general concepts as to how the process works.

If an employee is injured on the job, it’s likely that costs will be incurred that need to be covered by workers’ comp insurance. Costs could include:

  • Hospital or other ongoing medical bills
  • Ambulance transportation
  • Lost wages
  • Disability payments

After an injury or illness, the employee can make a claim against the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance policy. If accepted by the insurance company, the employee could receive funds to cover medical expenses and a disability payment plan.

Death benefits under Florida workers’ compensation

If an employee dies as a result of a work-related accident within one year from the date of the accident or within five years of continuous disability, benefits could be owed to the employee’s survivors. The family of the deceased employee could be entitled to:

  • Up to $7,500 to cover funeral expenses
  • Education benefits to surviving spouse
  • Up to $150,000 in compensation benefits to dependents (paid at up to 66.67 percent of the decedent’s weekly wage)

Workers’ comp settlements in Florida

In some cases, an employee might try to negotiate for a larger workers’ comp settlement.

If an injured employee decides to escalate a claim to a larger settlement negotiation, the employer should remain involved in that discussion to reduce liability in a lawsuit if one arises.

Before an insurance company will settle a claim, it will ask the employee and his or her attorney to calculate the total amount of anticipated related expenses.

The insurance company won’t simply pay a settlement based on all of these calculations. Often, the insurance company and the employee’s attorney will spend some time negotiating before reaching a settlement that is agreeable to all parties. If they can’t reach an agreement, there could be a hearing or lawsuit.

Statutes of limitations for workers’ compensation claims

Statutes of limitations are designed to protect against claims that are filed too long after an injury has occurred. Florida laws state that an employee cannot claim benefits, receive medical treatment, or sue for lost wages if the period is more than two years from the date of injury.

There are a few exceptions to the two-year statute of limitations:

  • If the injured worker is a minor
  • If the injured worker is mentally incompetent
  • If the worker was misled by the employer about coverage entitlement
  • If the insurance carrier did not properly inform the worker of his or her rights
  • There is no statute of limitations in Florida for care associated with medical prosthetic devices

The primary regulatory agency for Florida workers’ compensation claims is the Division of Workers’ Compensation, which is a part of the office of Florida’s Chief Financial Officer.

Get workers’ comp quotes with Insureon

Insureon makes it easy for business owners to compare workers’ compensation policy quotes online. Complete one easy application to review multiple quotes specific to your business and industry from leading U.S. carriers. Start an application for a workers’ compensation insurance quote today.

Workers' compensation insurance: Further reading

See workers' comp laws where you live