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Can I exclude owners and officers from workers’ comp coverage in California?

  • California

Okay, let’s look at exactly who your California workers’ comp policy will cover—and whether you can exclude anyone from coverage.

First of all, here’s the guiding principle for workers’ comp in California: if you have at least one employee—pretty much any employee—you need workers’ comp. (Read more about that here.) And normal employees don’t have the opportunity to waive their coverage. Coverage for them is required by California law and there’s no way for them to opt out.

But what if you don’t want your company officers on the policy? What if your business partner wants to waive coverage? In some cases, you can exclude those individuals from your workers’ comp policy.

Let’s look at a few of the most common ways of organizing a business and how exclusions work in each instance:

Is the business a corporation?

In the case of a public or quasi-public corporation, your officers and directors—at least the ones that are actually working and getting paid for it—are automatically included in your policy. But any one of them can be excluded as long as they fill out and sign a written waiver  and one of the following apply:

  • They own at least 10% of company stock
  • They own at least 1% of company stock and are covered by a health insurance policy or health care service plan and they have a parent, grandparent, sibling, spouse, or child who owns at least 10% of company stock

(Note that inactive officers aren’t included in your policy, so you won’t need to worry about excluding them.)

An owner of a professional corporation may also be excluded from the policy if they fill out the waiver and are already covered by a health insurance policy.

In the case of a cooperative corporation, any officer or member of the board of directors can be excluded from coverage if they are covered by:

  • A health care service plan or health insurance policy, and
  • A disability insurance policy that is comparable in scope and coverage to a standard workers’ comp policy

They’ll also need to fill out the waiver. As goes the pattern. (Don’t worry: If you’re insured through Huckleberry, you can do all of this online)  

What if a business is a sole proprietorship?

If your business is a sole proprietorship, you—as the owner—are automatically excluded from workers’ comp. Also, since the state of California considers spouses to be co-owners, you can also exclude your spouse (again, if you are a sole proprietor).

In some cases, you can elect to be included in your workers’ comp policy, but you should be aware that some insurers won’t write a policy which covers the owner of a sole proprietorship business. (Buying a standard health insurance policy and disability insurance is usually a better bet for sole proprietors.)

Can business partners be excluded?

Business partners are automatically included in your policy. But if they are considered a General Partner, they can be excluded if they fill out a waiver.

What if my business is an LLC?

All employees and working members of your LLC are automatically included in your California workers’ compensation policy. Working members can be excluded, though, if they execute a written waiver.

That’s it. Remember: you can also use our workers' comp calculator and get a business insurance quote online from Huckleberry in about five minutes. Everything’s online and easy.

Go back to The Complete Guide to Workers’ Comp in California.


All content on this page is for general informational purposes only and does not apply to any specific case, is not legal, tax or insurance advice and should not be relied upon. If you have any questions about the situation for your small business or the latest information in your state, you should contact an attorney for legal advice, an insurance agent or broker, and/or your state's labor or industry agency, board, commission or department. Please note that the information provided on this page may change at any time as a result of legislative action, court decisions or rules adopted or amended by any state or the federal government.

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