Workers’ Compensation Insurance in Montana
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Montana workers' compensation insurance

Montana requires every employer to provide their employees with workers’ compensation insurance. This policy covers the cost of an injured worker's medical treatment.

Who needs workers' compensation insurance in Montana?

The state of Montana imposes stringent workers' compensation rules on employers doing business there. Unless otherwise excluded, employers with employees are required to provide insurance. This applies to all full-time, part-time, seasonal, and occasional employees.

Which Montana employees are exempt from workers’ comp coverage?

Certain employees are exempt from having workers’ comp insurance, including:

  • Household or domestic workers
  • Real estate, securities, or insurance salespeople paid by commission
  • Newspaper carriers
  • Freelance writers paid by the article
  • Licensed barbers or cosmetologists working via contract with a cosmetology firm
  • Ministers of a church or member of a religious order

For a full list of exemptions, read the Montana workers' comp code.

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Do Montana business owners need to be included in workers’ compensation coverage?

Under the regulations of the Montana Workers’ Compensation Regulation Bureau, the following owner types are exempt from workers’ comp coverage:

However, all of the above may choose to purchase workers' comp. This can be a smart business decision, as your health insurance provider could deny a claim for a work-related injury, leaving you with expensive medical bills.

Family members who work as employees of sole proprietors and partners are exempt as long as the business owner claims them on a federal tax return.

Are independent contractors required to have workers’ comp coverage?

Before hiring an independent contractor in Montana, an employer must check to see if the person has either a state-issued IC Exemption Certificate from the Montana Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) or proof of having workers’ compensation insurance.

Without this documentation, the business owner may be held financially responsible for any injuries an independent contractor suffers on the job.

How much does workers' compensation insurance cost in Montana?

A small business owner calculating their workers' comp insurance payments

The average cost of workers’ compensation in Montana is $74 per month.

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

  • Payroll
  • Location
  • Number of employees
  • Industry and risk factors
  • Coverage limits
  • Claims history

How can Montana 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’ compensation work in Montana?

Workers' compensation insurance covers the cost of medical care for work-related injuries and occupational diseases. It also provides wage-loss benefits while the employee recovers, typically equal to two-thirds of their gross wages.

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.

Workers' compensation benefits in Montana include:

  • Medical benefits
  • Temporary partial disability benefits
  • Temporary total disability benefits
  • Permanent partial disability benefits
  • Permanent total disability benefits
  • Death benefits
  • Rehabilitation benefits

For details, visit the Montana Department of Labor and Industry.

How is workers' compensation purchased in Montana?

Montana business owners can compare quotes and purchase a policy from private insurance companies. Insureon offers this service with its online insurance marketplace.

If your firm’s high-risk status makes it impossible to purchase workers’ comp insurance through the voluntary market mentioned above, you can purchase coverage from the Montana State Fund.

The final way to secure workers’ compensation insurance is to self-insure your workers’ comp claims. Having self-insurance means your company will pay for its own workers’ comp claims rather than submit them to an insurance company.

To become self-insured (generally limited to large firms), you must first secure permission from the Montana Workers’ Compensation Regulation Bureau.

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

If you fail to comply with Montana’s workers’ comp laws, you may be forced to pay double the amount of what you would have paid for insurance. The minimum such penalty is $200, but if the uninsured period is lengthy, the penalty amount can be substantial.

Montana workers’ compensation law for death benefits 

If one of your employees dies as a result of a workplace injury or occupational disease, the Montana Workers’ Compensation Act requires that death benefits be paid to beneficiaries.

Beneficiaries receive weekly compensation benefits equal to two-thirds of the employee's wages. These benefits cannot exceed the state's average weekly wage.

If the employee leaves no beneficiary, a lump-sum payment of $3,000 must be paid to their parents.

For details, read the Montana Code for workers' compensation.

Montana workers' comp settlements

A workers’ compensation settlement is an agreement between the injured employee, employer, and insurer that resolves a workers’ compensation claim. This benefits both the employee and the employer.

In Montana, many workers’ comp claims end in settlements. This means the parties involved in the case must agree on a lump-sum payment amount. In exchange, the employee (or the employee’s survivors) must agree to the insurer stopping future benefit payments.

Employees who wish to enter into an agreement to take a lump-sum payment in lieu of future benefits must file an application with the Workers’ Compensation Court. If a settlement can’t be reached, employers and employees must first engage in mediation before requesting a hearing with Montana’s Workers’ Compensation Court.

Workers’ compensation statute of limitations in Montana

In Montana, employees must file a workers’ comp claim within one year from the date of the injury or illness, or within two years if the employee can prove not knowing about the injury.

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If you are ready to explore workers’ comp insurance options for your Montana business, start a free online application today to compare quotes from multiple carriers.

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Updated: February 5, 2024

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