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Rhode Island workers’ compensation law

Most Rhode Island employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance.

Who needs workers’ comp insurance in Rhode Island?

Rhode Island imposes stringent workers’ compensation insurance rules on its employers. According to state law, company, public service, or private corporation 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.

Compare workers' compensation quotes for Rhode Island businesses

Do Rhode Island business owners need to be covered with their workers’ comp policy?

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 on themselves even though state law exempts them.

Starting on Jan. 1, 2002, Rhode Island began requiring workers’ comp coverage for corporate officers.

Individuals who were appointed corporate officers between Jan. 1, 1999 and Dec. 31, 2001, and were not previously an employee of the corporation, are exempt. However, they can opt into workers’ comp by filing a DWC-11C form with the Division of Workers' Compensation.

Rhode Island coverage rules for members of limited liability companies (LLCs) are identical to those for corporate officers.

Are independent contractors required to have workers’ comp coverage in Rhode Island?

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. The contractor must file a DWC 11-IC form for each hiring entity (the business that hires the independent contractor).

How does workers’ comp work in Rhode Island?

Rhode Island 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 voluntary market referred to above because your firm’s a high risk, 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 Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training, Workers’ Compensation Self-Insurance Unit. Details on how to apply are here.

What is the average cost of workers’ compensation insurance in Rhode Island?

The estimated workers’ comp expense for Rhode Island employers is $1.11 per $100 in covered payroll, according to the National Academy of Social Insurance [PDF].

What are the penalties for not having workers’ comp insurance 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.

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’ comp settlements in Rhode Island

A workers’ compensation settlement is an agreement between the injured employee, employer, and insurer that cancel 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 his or her 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. The Rhode Island statute grants some flexibility on the length of this period based on the nature of the case.

Compare free workers’ comp quotes with Insureon

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

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