Workers’ Compensation Insurance in Rhode Island
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Rhode Island workers' compensation insurance

Rhode Island employers with one or more employees are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. The policy covers the cost of medical treatment for work-related injuries and illnesses.

Who needs workers’ compensation in Rhode Island?

Rhode Island imposes stringent workers’ compensation insurance rules on its employers. According to state law, employers must provide employees with workers’ comp insurance.

However, there are a few exceptions to the state’s workers’ compensation law:

  • Sole proprietors and partners
  • Certain real estate workers
  • Agricultural workers
  • Domestic service employees

Police, firefighters, and federal employees are excluded from coverage since other programs protect them.

Municipal employees aren’t covered unless their municipality elects to provide them with workers’ comp protection.

Do Rhode Island business owners need workers’ compensation coverage?

It depends on what type of business owner you are.

Sole proprietors and partners are exempt. Unlike in many other states, sole proprietors and partners can’t voluntarily buy workers’ comp insurance for themselves.

The state of Rhode Island requires workers’ comp insurance coverage for corporate officers and members of limited liability companies (LLCs).

Are independent contractors required to have workers’ compensation?

In Rhode Island, an independent contractor is not eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.

An independent contractor is someone who maintains an independent business and is available for work. Independent contractors must file a Notice of Designation as Independent Contractor (DWC-11-IC) form with the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training (DLT).

How much does workers' compensation insurance cost in Rhode Island?

A small business owner calculating their workers' comp insurance payments

The average cost of workers’ compensation in Rhode Island is $52 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 Rhode Island 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 Rhode Island?

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

Workers' compensation benefits for injured workers in Rhode Island include:

  • Medical benefits (reimbursement for all medical expenses related to the injury)
  • Weekly compensation for total incapacity
  • Weekly compensation for partial incapacity
  • Vocational rehabilitation
  • Death benefits payable to dependents

For details, read the state's statute on benefits or visit the Rhode Island DLT's Division of Workers' Compensation.

How does workers' compensation insurance protect employers?

Most workers' compensation policies include employer's liability insurance, which helps cover legal expenses if an employee blames their injury on the employer's negligence or unsafe working conditions.

Once the employee accepts workers' compensation benefits, they're usually prohibited from suing their employer due to the exclusive remedy provision in most policies.

How is workers' compensation insurance purchased in Rhode Island?

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

If you’re unable to purchase workers’ comp insurance through this voluntary market because of high risks, you can purchase coverage from the Rhode Island assigned risk market. Beacon Mutual Insurance Company administers this program for the state.

Rhode Island 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 company. To qualify for self-insurance, they must file an application with the DLT.

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

Violating Rhode Island’s workers’ compensation statute is a serious matter. Here are the penalties you’ll face if you fail to comply with the law:

  • If you fail to display the required workers’ comp poster, you’ll face a $250 fine.
  • If you fail to provide required workers’ comp insurance, you may be fined $1,000 for each noncompliant day.
  • Failing to provide coverage exposes you to a felony charge, a $10,000 fine, and a two-year prison sentence.
  • If you don’t comply with state workers’ comp rules, the director of Rhode Island’s Department of Labor and Training can shut down your business.
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Workers’ compensation death benefits in Rhode Island 

If one of your employees dies as a result of a job-related illness or injury, the person’s dependents are entitled to receive death benefits. These include payments to cover burial and funeral expenses not to exceed $20,000.

Surviving spouses, minor children, and other dependents are eligible to receive a weekly benefit payment. The size of this payment varies based on the worker’s marital status and the number of dependents. However, the total benefit can’t be more than the state’s maximum weekly total disability benefit.

Workers’ compensation settlements in Rhode Island

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

There are two basic forms of settlements in Rhode Island:

A denial and dismissal settlement closes out the case without establishing liability against the employer or insurer.

A commutation settlement closes out the entire claim in cases where benefits have been paid for six months or more. The employee (or survivors) receives a lump-sum payment or a structured settlement in return for the employer closing out all future liabilities.

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

Workers’ compensation statute of limitations in Rhode Island

In Rhode Island, employees in most cases must file a workers’ comp claim within two years of the injury. Rhode Island law grants some flexibility on the length of this period based on the nature of the case.

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

Updated: February 5, 2024
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