Workers’ Compensation Insurance in Oklahoma
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Oklahoma workers' compensation insurance

All Oklahoma employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Oklahoma’s workers’ compensation system covers medical expenses and lost wages resulting from work-related injuries and illnesses.

Who needs workers’ comp insurance in Oklahoma?

Oklahoma statutes require employers to purchase workers' compensation insurance for all employees, full-time or part-time.

Every covered worker who suffers an accidental injury or illness related to their job is eligible for benefits under Oklahoma’s Administrative Workers’ Compensation Act.

What types of workers are required to have workers’ comp insurance?

Oklahoma strives to maintain near-universal workers’ comp coverage. Every employee in Oklahoma must have workers’ comp coverage, with a few exceptions including:

  • Certain agricultural employees
  • Federal government employees
  • Licensed real estate brokers paid on commission
  • Certain employees of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services
  • Employees in small family-run businesses

For details and a full list of exemptions, visit the Employer's FAQ provided by the Oklahoma Workers' Compensation Court of Existing Claims.

Do business owners need to be covered by workers’ compensation?

It depends on the type of business you have established. Here’s how Oklahoma’s business owner coverage requirements work:

Sole proprietors are not considered employees. Therefore, they don’t have to buy workers’ comp insurance for themselves. They can still choose to buy coverage. This is often a good idea, as health insurance plans might not cover injuries related to your job.

If a sole proprietor hires employees and no other exemption applies, then they must provide workers’ comp to their workers.

Members of limited liability companies (LLCs) who own at least 10% of the LLC’s capital are non-employees and exempt under state workers’ comp law. As with sole proprietors, LLC members can purchase workers’ comp insurance to gain financial protection against work injuries.

Stockholder-employees of corporations are treated the same way as LLC members.

Are independent contractors required to have workers’ comp coverage?

Independent contractors are not considered employees and are exempt from workers’ comp coverage.

The state of Oklahoma uses a complex, multipart test to determine if a worker is a contractor vs. an employee. Factors the government evaluates include:

  • The nature of the contract
  • The degree of control exercised by the principal employer over the work
  • Whether the person works in a distinct occupation or business for others
  • Whether the person works under supervision or independently

How much does workers' compensation insurance cost in Oklahoma?

A small business owner calculating their workers' comp insurance payments

The average cost of workers’ compensation in Oklahoma is $64 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 Oklahoma 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 Oklahoma?

When an employee suffers a workplace injury or develops an occupational disease, workers' compensation covers the cost of medical treatment. It also provides lost wage benefits while the employee is unable to work.

Policies usually include employer's liability insurance, which covers legal costs if an employee sues their employer over an injury. The exclusive remedy provision in most workers' comp policies prohibits an employee from filing a lawsuit once they accept workers' comp benefits.

Workers' compensation benefits for injured employees in Oklahoma include:

  • Medical benefits (all medical care, from prescriptions to surgery)
  • Out-of-pocket expenses related to the injury
  • Temporary total disability benefits
  • Permanent partial impairment benefits
  • Permanent total disability benefits
  • Death benefits for fatal incidents
  • Disfigurement lump-sum awards
  • Vocational rehabilitation and job-placement services

For additional information, visit the benefits section of the Employer's FAQ.

How is workers' compensation insurance purchased in Oklahoma?

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

If you're unable to purchase workers’ comp insurance through the private market because you own a high-risk business, you can purchase coverage from the Oklahoma assigned risk market. CompSource Oklahoma administers this program for the state.

Oklahoma employers who qualify can self-insure their workers’ compensation claims. This means they’ll pay for their own workers’ comp claims rather than submit them to an insurance carrier.

To qualify for self-insurance, you must apply for an Individual Own Risk Employer Permit with the Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Commission.

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

Violating workers’ compensation laws is a serious concern. Here are the penalties you’ll face if you don’t comply with Oklahoma workers' compensation laws:

  • A $1,000 fine for each day you fail to provide workers’ compensation coverage to your employees
  • Liability for injured worker lawsuits, leaving you vulnerable to civil litigation
  • A court-ordered shutdown of your business for failure to provide coverage or to pay for the ensuing penalties
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Workers’ compensation death benefits in Oklahoma 

If one of your employees dies as a result of a job-related illness or injury, your workers’ comp insurer must pay death benefits to the worker’s survivors.

This involves paying benefits to a surviving spouse and / or surviving dependents of a worker who died because of a compensable work-related injury or occupational disease.

State law determines death claim payments according to a predefined schedule. Benefits take the form of lump-sum payments, ongoing weekly benefits, and funeral expenses. Survivors of the deceased employees who were not dependent but experienced an economic loss may be eligible for a lump-sum payment.

Workers’ comp settlements in Oklahoma

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

In Oklahoma, many workers’ comp claims end in settlements. This means the parties to the claim – the injured employee, the employer, and the workers’ comp insurer – must agree on a lump-sum payment in return for the employee (or the employee’s survivors) agreeing to forgo future payments.

Workers’ comp settlements in Oklahoma are subject to complex rules, and a workers’ comp judge must approve them.

Workers’ compensation statute of limitations in Oklahoma

In Oklahoma, employees must file a workers’ comp claim within two years from one of the following dates:

  • The date of injury or death
  • The date of payment of any compensation or wages in lieu of compensation
  • The date on which authorized medical care began

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If you are ready to explore workers’ comp options for your Oklahoma business, start a free online application today to compare quotes from top-rated insurance companies.

Updated: February 5, 2024
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