The employer’s guide to Georgia workers’ comp insurance
Workers’ compensation insurance is a critical part of many small businesses. But navigating the ins and outs of a policy can be confusing.
That’s why we created this employer’s guide to Georgia workers’ compensation laws—here’s what you need to know.
Is workers’ comp insurance required in Georgia?
Georgia workers’ compensation laws require most employers to have coverage for work-related injuries and illnesses. But whether your business needs workers’ comp can depend on the size of your business.
For example, you likely need a workers’ comp policy if you have 3 or more employees. According to the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation, it doesn’t matter if the employers are full-time, part-time, or seasonal—the rule still applies.
But here’s the kicker: Corporate officers and members count as an employee if your company is incorporated or operates as a limited liability company (LLC).
So, if Amber and Jake run an LLC and hire a part-time worker to work the weekend shift regularly, the company is then required to carry workers’ compensation insurance—and coverage must start on the first day of employment.
What about independent contractors? The business doesn't directly employ independent contractors. Because they’re self-employed, independent contractors aren’t generally entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
What happens if I don’t get workers’ comp in Georgia?
Georgia workers’ compensation laws protect you, your business, and your employees. If a staff member has an on-the-job injury, your insurance policy can offer medical benefits and income benefits starting on the date of injury.
But what if you don’t get coverage? Business owners in Georgia can face steep penalties for ignoring state workers’ comp laws.
An employer that doesn’t carry workers’ comp is guilty of a misdemeanor. This could mean both financial penalties and legal trouble, such as:
- Fines of up to $10,000
- Imprisonment for up to 12 months
- Lawsuits on behalf of injured employees
- Paying attorney’s fees, civil penalties, and an additional 10% in compensation for the injured worker
If you don’t have workers’ comp in Georgia, you could end up paying far more in fines and settlement costs than you would have paid for a policy in the first place. Plus, you’ll likely have higher premiums when you purchase coverage than if you had maintained coverage without gaps.
I’m a business owner in Georgia. Do I need to purchase workers’ comp for myself?
Georgia workers’ compensation law doesn’t require you to purchase coverage for yourself if you own a business in Georgia. That’s especially true if you’re a sole proprietor or partner—you’re automatically excluded (but you could choose to be included).
But what if you’re a corporation or an LLC? In that case, your workers’ comp policy will automatically include the corporate officers and members.
You may have the option to exclude Georgia owners, officers, or partners using Form WC-10, which is a Notice of Election of Rejection of Workers’ Compensation Coverage.
Fill it out and submit it to your workers’ compensation carrier. If you don’t have an insurer, you can send the form to the State Board of Workers’ Compensation at 270 Peachtree Street N.W. in Atlanta, Georgia.
How do I get workers’ comp in Georgia?
Getting the best workers’ compensation insurance for your Georgia business can be challenging. Work with a reputable and experienced insurance company to make sure you get the coverage you need. Here’s how:
- Contact an insurance agent or broker
- Get coverage through an online insurance provider
An agent or broker is a “traditional” option if you’re looking for coverage. However, the process can take several weeks and usually requires you to complete a stack of forms. Instead, many small business owners prefer the streamlined option of getting workers’ compensation insurance online.
Buying coverage online takes less time than you think. You can get a quote in about 5 minutes and print your insurance certificate through a convenient online business insurance portal.
What is the cost of workers’ comp in Georgia?
The average cost of workers’ comp coverage in Georgia through Huckleberry is $147 per month. However, your rate might be different. How much you pay depends on:
- The size of your payroll
- The industry you’re in
- The company’s location
- The company’s safety record
Payroll is the biggest factor in determining your rate—the more you spend on payroll, the more you’ll pay in premiums for workers’ comp coverage.
Your rate also depends on your industry and the kind of jobs your employees do—some industries have a higher risk of illness or injury. For example, a tech company might pay less for workers’ comp than a construction company with a comparable payroll.
The location of your business and its safety record can help you lower your workers’ comp rates. Building your company in an area that sees fewer lawsuits and maintaining safety without injury can save you money.
Want to know how much you might pay for workers’ comp? The simplest (and quickest!) way to find out what you'll pay is to get an instant workers' comp estimate.
What are the workers’ compensation insurance limits in Georgia?
Workers’ comp policies have 2 major parts:
- Coverage for employee medical bills and lost wages (Part A)
- Employers’ liability (Part B)
Part A doesn’t have a set-in-stone limit. The severity of the injury can determine how much medical care is covered in a workers’ compensation claim. Georgia’s workers’ comp laws generally grant a compensation rate of two-thirds of the employee’s average weekly wage.
Employer liability under Part B has stricter limits. Typically, it has a cap of $100,000 per occurrence for bodily injury and $100,000 per occurrence for bodily injury by occupational disease. An occupational disease is a health condition or disorder resulting from your work environment or activities related to your work.
So, what does workers’ comp cover in Georgia?
Workers' comp offers many benefits to small business owners and employees with work-related personal injury or sickness.
A policy can pay weekly income benefits and medical bills for employees and offer death benefits in severe cases. It also reduces your liability as a small business owner. Without coverage, your employees can sue you to help pay for medical costs and lost wages for a work-related injury or illness.
Whether a minor or catastrophic injury, a Georgia workers’ comp policy can cover:
- Lost wages
- Medical expenses
- Physical therapy and other ongoing care costs
- Funeral expenses
Before the workers’ compensation system picks up the tab, you must notify the insurance company. Claims aren’t paid according to a fixed amount. Instead, the insurance company can use one of 3 options to calculate the amount of workers’ compensation benefits:
- Panel of physicians: At least 6 physicians, including an orthopedist
- Conformed panel of physicians: At least 10 physicians or professional associations, including an orthopedist, general surgeon, and chiropractor
- Workers’ compensation managed care organization (MCO): Certified by the workers’ comp board to coordinate and manage treatment under the Georgia Workers’ Compensation Act
Employees can claim benefits for many injuries, from carpal tunnel syndrome to a broken leg to a sickness stemming from workplace chemical exposure.
Workers’ comp can cover disabilities from job injuries, too. Disability benefits depend on the severity and can include temporary partial disability benefits, temporary total disability benefits, and permanent partial disability.
Workers’ comp can also pay death benefits when an employee dies due to their workplace injury.
What should I do if my Georgia employee is injured and needs workers’ comp?
If your Georgia employee is injured on the job, they should report the accident to a supervisor or you directly as soon as possible. Verbal notification is okay, but getting it in writing is even better. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA.gov) has an Employee’s Report of Injury Form you can use.
After you’re aware of the injury, follow these steps:
- Complete injury and illness reports and get medical treatment for your employee, preferably with an authorized treating physician.
- Discuss workers’ compensation benefits, including travel reimbursement, medical bills, and wage replacement with your injured employee.
- Complete Section A of Form WC-1, then file the injury and illness report with your workers’ compensation insurance carrier and give a copy to your employee immediately. You must also inform the State Board of Workers Compensation if your injured employee misses more than 7 days due to the injury.
Need a helping hand? Huckleberry is here
Workers’ comp injuries and claims might be new territory for you, but your insurer has done all of this before. Your insurance company can give you a helping hand to walk you through the process from start to finish.
And Huckleberry is here for you, too. We can get you a quote for Georgia workers’ comp insurance in minutes. Everything is online, and it’s easier than you think to get coverage.