Workers’ Compensation Insurance in Illinois
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Illinois workers' compensation insurance

Illinois law specifies that all businesses with employees must have workers’ compensation insurance, with limited exceptions. This policy provides medical benefits for workers who are injured on the job.

Who needs workers’ comp insurance in Illinois?

Every business in Illinois with employees is required to carry workers’ compensation insurance, including businesses with part-time employees. Illinois law requires employers to purchase a policy through an insurance company or obtain permission to self-insure.

Insureon helps small business owners compare workers’ comp insurance quotes from leading commercial insurance companies. Start a free application today.

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

Even when it's not required by law, workers' comp is a wise choice because of the protection it provides. This policy covers the cost of medical treatment for work injuries – which is crucial since health insurance can deny work-related injury claims.

Sole proprietors, business partners, corporate officers, and members of limited liability companies can exempt themselves from workers' compensation requirements. Independent contractors in Illinois are not eligible for workers' compensation benefits.

The exception is businesses that engage in hazardous work, including construction and trucking. These businesses are required to have workers’ comp coverage for all individuals, regardless of whether they are sole proprietors, independent contractors, or owners.

How much does workers' compensation insurance cost in Illinois?

A small business owner calculating their workers' comp insurance payments

The average cost of workers’ compensation in Illinois is $45 per month.

Your workers' comp premium is calculated based on a few factors, including:

  • Payroll
  • Location, such as Chicago downtown
  • Number of employees
  • Industry and risk factors
  • Coverage limits
  • Claims history

How can Illinois business owners save money on workers' comp?

To save money on workers' comp insurance, it's important to make sure you classify your employees correctly. Employees with desk jobs or other jobs with a low risk of injury cost less to insure. This also helps you avoid misclassification fines.

In some cases, small business owners can choose to buy pay-as-you-go workers' compensation. This type of workers' comp policy has a low upfront premium, and lets you make payments based on your actual payroll instead of estimated payroll. It's useful for businesses that hire seasonal help or have fluctuating numbers of employees.

Finally, a documented safety program can help lower workers' comp costs. A safer workplace means fewer accidents, which helps keep your premium low.

How does workers' comp work in Illinois?

When an employee suffers a work-related injury or occupational illness, they are eligible for workers' compensation benefits. Workers' comp can help cover the cost of medical treatment. It also provides payments while injured employees are unable to work.

In Illinois, workers' compensation coverage includes:

  • Medical care (emergency treatment, prescriptions, physical rehabilitation, etc.)
  • Permanent total disability benefits
  • Permanent partial disability benefits
  • Temporary total disability benefits
  • Temporary partial disability benefits
  • Vocational rehabilitation, if the injured worker is unable to return to their job
  • Death benefits for fatal injuries

Policies usually include employer's liability insurance, which can help cover legal expenses if an employee blames their employer for an injury. However, the exclusive remedy provision in most workers' comp policies prohibits an employee from suing their employer if they accept workers' comp benefits.

Illinois workers' compensation claims

When employees are injured at work, they are required to inform the employer within 45 days of the event.

The employer is then obligated to inform the workers’ compensation insurance carrier or administrator. If the employee cannot work for more than three days because of the injury, the employer must also:

  • Continue to pay the employee, even if the claim has not yet been made with the insurance company
  • Provide a written explanation to the employee of any additional documentation or information that is required for a claim
  • Provide a written explanation to the employee as to why benefits are being denied, if the claim is denied
  • File the “Employer’s First Report of Injury” with the IWCC

The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission (IWCC) facilitates workers’ comp claims.

What are the penalties for not having workers’ comp insurance in Illinois?

There are serious penalties for failure to comply with workers' compensation laws. Penalties under the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act include:

  • An employer could be fined $500 for each day that it did not carry workers’ compensation insurance, at a minimum of $10,000.
  • If the failure to carry coverage is found to be negligent, it is a misdemeanor.
  • If the failure to carry coverage is found to be knowing and willful, it is a Class 4 felony.
  • A felony conviction for failure to carry workers’ compensation insurance in Illinois is punishable by imprisonment for one to three years and a fine of up to $25,000.
  • A corporate officer could be liable for fines if the company fails to pay.
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Workers’ compensation death benefits

If a person dies as a result of an injury on the job, their dependents are entitled to receive workers’ compensation death benefits. Illinois allows for benefits to a deceased worker’s:

  • Spouse
  • Children under 18
  • Children under 25 who are full-time students
  • Children of any age who are physically or mentally incapacitated

If the deceased worker does not have any of these survivors, benefits might go to another family member, including parents, adult children, or grandchildren.

Workers’ compensation death benefits in Illinois are allocated with weekly payments. An eligible dependent could receive up to two-thirds of the deceased person’s average weekly wage, within the minimum and maximum amount established by the state each year. Benefit payments end after $500,000 or 25 years.

Workers’ compensation death benefits can also be used for funeral expenses up to $8,000.

Illinois workers' compensation law for settlements

Most workers’ compensation settlements result in a lump-sum payment. Illinois allows payment installments over time in two ways:

  • A wage differential claim, which means the employee would return to work for less pay than before the injury and receive settlement payments equal to their previous pay.
  • Permanent and total disability, which would be for someone who is not able to return to work.

Although a settlement usually means that the worker has closed their rights to workers’ comp benefits, sometimes medical rights are kept open if the person is likely to require extensive future medical treatment as a result of the injury.

Workers’ compensation statute of limitations

The State of Illinois includes the following for its workers’ comp statute of limitations:

  • The employee must first provide notice of the injury to the employer within 45 days to receive workers’ compensation benefits.
  • The claim for workers’ compensation benefits must be filed with the IWCC within two years of the last payment of compensation from the employer or three years from the date of injury.

If the injury is from ongoing or repetitive trauma, and not a specific incident, then the date of injury is considered to be the date on which a reasonable person would have become aware of the injury and the fact that it was caused by employment.

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If you are ready to explore workers’ comp insurance options for your Illinois business, fill out Insureon's free online application today to compare quotes from top-rated providers. Our licensed agents can help you find the right insurance policies for your small business.

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Updated: February 6, 2024
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