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The complete guide to Pennsylvania workers’ compensation requirements

  • Pennsylvania

If you’ve got questions about workers’ comp requirements in Pennsylvania, you’ve found the right article. Here’s everything you need to know (and a handy index to help you find it):

Quick Index:

1. Is workers’ comp required in Pennsylvania?

2. What happens if I don’t get workers’ comp in Pennsylvania?

3. Do business owners have to buy workers’ comp for themselves?

4. How do I get workers’ comp in Pennsylvania?

5. How much does workers’ comp cost in Pennsylvania?

6. What are the workers’ compensation insurance limits in Pennsylvania?

7. What does workers’ comp cover in Pennsylvania?

8. What should I do if my Pennsylvania employee is injured and needs workers’ comp?

Is workers’ comp required in Pennsylvania?

Yes. It’s mandatory for any employer who has at least one employee. And the details of the employment don’t really matter. For instance, you won’t get out of buying workers’ comp if your employee is a family member or if they only work 15 hours per week (yes, part-time employees count).

Now, if you’re a sole proprietor and don’t have any employees, you’re not required to get workers’ comp to cover yourself. And you may be able to exempt certain company officers from coverage. There’s also a bit of gray area around the category of “casual workers,” who, technically, aren’t required to get coverage. (Do you need workers’ comp for your Pennsylvania business? We unpack all of this a bit more here.)

What happens if I don’t get workers’ comp in Pennsylvania?

Going without workers’ comp in Pennsylvania is a terrible idea. It’s a criminal offense and it exposes you and your business to significant legal risk. Here’s what can happen if you don’t purchase workers’ comp insurance for your company:

  1. You could be forced to pay financial penalties of $1000s of dollars. (Each day that an employer does not carry workers’ comp coverage is considered a separate offense—and charged separately.)
  2. In the event of a workplace injury, you’d pay out-of-pocket for the cost of your employee’s medical expenses and lost wages—plus fees and interest. Depending on the illness or injury, this settlement alone might be pricier than the cost of workers’ comp coverage.
  3. An injured employee could sue you for damages.
  4. You could face serious legal action from the State of Pennsylvania.
  5. Whenever you do purchase workers’ comp, the cost will be higher.

(Learn more specifics about the penalties for not carrying workers’ comp coverage in Pennsylvania.)

In the end, whatever money you might save by going without workers’ comp is simply not worth the risk. Get workers’ comp now.

I own a business in Pennsylvania. Do I need to purchase workers’ comp for myself? What about my officers?

Nope! In Pennsylvania, you’re not required to purchase workers’ comp for yourself. But you or your officers might already be included in coverage depending on how your business is organized. So, if you don’t want to be covered under your company’s policy, you’ll likely just need to alert your insurance company and fill out a form.

Tap here to learn more about how to exclude owners and officers in Pennsylvania.

How do I get workers’ comp in Pennsylvania?

There are four major ways to get workers’ compensation coverage in Pennsylvania:

  1. You can find a broker, fill out a bunch of paperwork, provide supporting documentation (like payroll info), and wait for your quote. This is the standard way of getting workers’ comp (and you should be aware it can take several weeks to complete). Learn more about buying workers’ comp.
  2. You can apply for insurance from the State Workers Insurance Fund, which is run by the State of Pennsylvania.
  3. If you are a very large, financially stable employer, you can apply to insure yourself. (This is rare, carries significant financial risk, and is not available to the vast majority of businesses.)

You can buy Pennsylvania workers’ comp online. Getting a quote takes between 5-7 minutes.

How much does workers’ comp cost in Pennsylvania?

In general, the cost for workers’ comp in Pennsylvania is about $1.84 per $100 of payroll. You can get a much better idea what your cost will be by getting an instant estimate.

The cost of your workers’ comp policy depends primarily on your payroll—the bigger the payroll, the more you’ll pay. There are a few other factors to consider, too, so the price you pay will fluctuate. (See more about how workers’ comp rates are calculated.)

What are the workers’ comp’ limits in Pennsylvania?

The neat thing about workers’ comp is that you don’t ever have to think about your limits. All coverage levels are set by the state of Pennsylvania, so you’ll never have any choices to make. Just give your insurance carrier the appropriate information and your rate will be calculated based on your payroll, your industry, and a few other factors.

It’s also good to know that, technically, there’s no limit on what your insurance company might pay in the event of an injury. If a worker becomes seriously disabled on the job, for example, your insurance company will likely pay benefits for the rest of that worker’s life.

Learn more about workers’ comp laws in Pennsylvania.

What does Pennsylvania workers’ comp cover?

Workers’ comp covers medical costs for covered incidents and can reimburse up to two-thirds of lost wages for the time when the employee was unable to work. What injuries are covered exactly? Pretty much any disease, medical condition, or injury that could be caused or worsened by work is covered by workers’ comp. And, in the case of a fatal injury, family members of the deceased normally receive a workers’ comp payment.

So, does this mean all incidents are covered? Not exactly. Self-inflicted injuries or those involving illegal drugs and alcohol aren’t covered. Normally, injuries from commuting aren’t covered, either, although there are a few exceptions to this.

Learn more about what Pennsylvania workers’ comp covers here.

What should I do if my Pennsylvania employee is injured and needs workers’ comp?

  • First: Take a deep breath, stay calm, and get the employee appropriate medical attention.
  • Second: Report the incident to your workers’ comp insurance carrier as soon as possible. The sooner, the better.
  • Third: If the injured employee ends up missing work because of their injury, you must submit a First Report of Injury. (Find more information on that here.)

Those are just the first steps. Go here to get full information for how to handle an employee injury in Pennsylvania.

Hey, if you’re ready for an instant estimate on workers’ comp, we can get you one in less time than it takes to brew a cup of coffee. Everything is online. Everything is easy.


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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