Workers’ Compensation Insurance in South Carolina
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South Carolina workers' compensation insurance

South Carolina law requires every business with four or more employees to purchase workers' compensation insurance. This policy covers the cost of medical treatment and lost wages for workers who are injured on the job.

Who needs workers’ comp in South Carolina?

In South Carolina, businesses with four or more employees are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. That includes full-time employees, part-time employees, and family members who work for the business (unpaid or paid). This is true for nonprofit organizations as well.

Subcontractors also need to be covered under a general contractor’s policy unless they have their own coverage. In many cases, a general contractor requires subcontractors to carry their own workers’ compensation insurance because that allows the general contractor to remain free from liability if someone is injured.

Who doesn't need workers' compensation coverage in South Carolina?

Sole proprietors, partners, independent contractors, and members of a limited liability company (LLC) are not required to carry workers' comp for themselves, but they can still choose to buy coverage.

An independent contractor is anyone who’s working under contract with specific terms, uses their own equipment, establishes their own rates and payment schedule, and manages how and when they work.

A corporate officer is included in a business’s coverage but can choose to be excluded.

Even when you're exempt from workers' comp requirements, it's a good idea to buy this coverage. Health insurance providers can deny claims for injuries related to work, which could leave you with expensive medical bills.

How much does workers' compensation insurance cost in South Carolina?

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The average cost of workers’ compensation in South Carolina 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 are workers' compensation rates determined in South Carolina?

Each employer’s cost for workers’ compensation coverage is based on workers’ compensation class codes, which depend on the work duties performed by their employees. Your workers’ compensation insurance company will determine your cost based on how many employees perform different jobs at your company and their exposure to risk, along with other factors.

Like many other states, South Carolina relies on the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) for its class codes.

How is workers' compensation purchased in South Carolina?

Employers have a few options when it comes to buying a workers' comp policy in South Carolina:

How can business owners save money on workers' compensation?

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 South Carolina?

Workers’ compensation laws in South Carolina are regulated by the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission (WCC). This policy covers medical bills related to on-the-job injuries and occupational diseases. It provides lost wage compensation equal to two-thirds of the employee's average weekly wage while the employee is unable to work.

Most workers' comp policies 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 once they accept workers' comp benefits.

Workers' compensation benefits for injured workers in South Carolina include:

  • Medical benefits to cover treatment of the injury
  • Temporary disability and permanent disability benefits
  • Partial disability and total disability benefits
  • Compensation for disfigurement
  • Reimbursement for medical travel expenses
  • Death benefits for fatal work accidents

To receive compensation for medical expenses, employees must visit a health provider approved by their employer or its insurer.

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

If an employee becomes hurt on the job and the employer didn’t have the required workers’ compensation insurance in South Carolina, the state could take the business assets to cover the cost of a claim.

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South Carolina workers’ comp death benefits

If a South Carolina employee dies as a result of a work-related injury or illness, death benefits can be awarded to surviving dependents.

Death benefits include weekly compensation payments and funds to pay for funeral and burial expenses. In general, survivors can receive two-thirds of the deceased worker’s average weekly wage for 500 weeks from the date of the injury, in addition to burial expenses up to $2,500.

There are some exceptions to this basic formula. For example, if the deceased worker received workers’ compensation insurance benefits prior to their death, it might reduce the amount of benefits available to surviving dependents.

Surviving dependents could include:

  • A spouse
  • A minor child
  • An adult child who is mentally or physically incapable of being self-supporting
  • An adult child who is a full-time student less than 23 years old

Individuals in other kinds of relationships to the deceased worker like stepchildren, illegitimate children, and others, might be able to receive benefits if they were dependent upon the deceased.

South Carolina workers' compensation laws for settlements

South Carolina offers two types of workers’ compensation settlements:

An agreement and final release, or "clincher" agreement. This is a full and final release of liability for the employer and its insurance carrier. It’s usually a lump sum but could also be paid as a structured settlement.

In that situation, the employee would receive a guaranteed monthly payout for a fixed period, like an annuity. It’s a legally binding agreement that must be approved by the commissioner, and if the employee’s condition worsens or needs additional treatment, there can be no further claims.

A Form 16A settlement. This settlement agreement is for a worker who’s permanently disabled. It pays a specific weekly benefit amount based on the average weekly wage prior to the injury.

Unlike a clincher agreement, a Form 16A would allow the worker to request additional compensation within a year of the last payment if the injury worsens, and it would also cover specific continuing medical expenses.

Statute of limitations for South Carolina workers' compensation claims

Injured employees must file a workers' compensation claim within two years with the WCC. It’s the employee’s responsibility to notify the employer of an injury as soon as possible, but it must be within 90 days of the injury.

If the employee fails to notify either the employer or the WCC on time, they forfeit their right to a workers' comp claim.

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Start a free online application today to compare workers’ compensation insurance quotes for your small business from leading U.S. carriers. Insureon’s licensed agents specialize in insurance for numerous South Carolina businesses.

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Updated: February 5, 2024

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