Employer’s guide to Massachusetts workers’ comp insurance
Ready to figure out how to secure workers’ compensation insurance coverage for your Massachusetts business? Huckleberry is here to help.
The following guide will help you learn all you need to know about the Massachusetts workers’ compensation system, Massachusetts general laws, Mass workers’ compensation laws, and how to get workers’ compensation insurance.
Step 1: Is workers’ comp insurance required in Massachusetts?
Mass workers’ comp laws dictate that all employers must carry workers’ compensation insurance for their employees, even if the owner themself is an employee.
The Mass workers’ comp laws apply to all employees, regardless of how many hours an employee works per week. However, domestic service employees must work at least 16 hours per week to qualify for workers’ comp coverage.
Do I need workers’ comp for Massachusetts subcontractors?
If you're hiring a subcontractor for your business, the subcontractor will generally be provided with workers’ compensation insurance. The only caveat here is the subcontractor might have the money for workers’ comp coverage deducted by the general contractor in certain situations if a provision states it in their contract.
To determine if someone providing you work services fits the “subcontractor” designation, you should contact the Office of Legal Counsel at the Department of Industrial Accidents (DIA) to speak with a workers’ compensation lawyer or workers’ compensation attorney for clarification. Most of the time, subcontractors are determined based on whether the employer has control over the worker, and how the employer controls the work.
But—and this is important—you or general contractors will need proof that a given subcontractor has purchased their own workers’ comp. If a subcontracted employer’s workers get hurt on your project—and don't have their own workers' comp policy—you’ll be responsible for payment of benefits.
Do I need workers' comp for independent contractors in Massachusetts?
Like with subcontractors, to determine if someone providing you work services fits the “independent contractor” designation, you should contact the Office of Legal Counsel at the DIA to speak with a staff attorney for clarification.
Under Mass workers’ comp laws, all workers are presumed to be employees. For a worker to be treated as an independent contractor, the employer has to prove that the worker conducts work without their control or direction, the worker performs work outside the usual course of the employer’s business, and that the work is being done by someone who has their own independent trade or business for the specific type of work.
Ultimately, it’s better to be on the safe side and get workers’ comp coverage for any independent contractors who do significant work for your business.
I’m an out-of-state employer. Do I need workers’ comp in Massachusetts?
Under Mass. workers’ comp laws, out-of-state employers must secure workers’ compensation insurance for any work performed in Massachusetts.
Suppose you’re an out-of-state employer and already have workers’ compensation insurance in your state. In that case, you can obtain Massachusetts workers’ compensation coverage by adding a Massachusetts endorsement—item 3A—to your existing policy.
Listing Massachusetts under item 3C of your existing policy is not sufficient. Per Mass workers’ comp laws, you must add the Massachusetts endorsement to item 3A.
However, if your out-of-state workers’ compensation coverage is with a company not licensed in Massachusetts, you cannot add the 3A endorsement item to your policy. Under Mass workers’ comp laws, the only way to properly insure your Massachusetts employees is by purchasing a Massachusetts workers’ compensation policy via a licensed Massachusetts insurance carrier.
The insurance carrier must complete and submit Form 154 Verification of Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Coverage for Out-Of-State Employers Operating in Massachusetts to the DIA Office of Investigations.
Step 2: What happens if I don’t get workers’ comp in Massachusetts?
If you fail to secure workers’ compensation insurance when Mass workers’ comp laws require, you will be issued a stop-work order by the DIA and will be assessed a minimum fine of $100 per day starting on the date of issuance. Fines will accrue each day until you secure workers’ comp insurance.
It doesn’t seem like a good gamble, so while you’re thinking about it, get MA workers’ comp insurance.
Step 3: I’m a business owner in Massachusetts. Do I need to purchase workers’ comp for myself?
You’re all set to purchase workers’ comp, but you need some help figuring out whether you’re allowed to exclude any of your officers or upper leadership from coverage.
We’re here for you. Here’s how the exemption works in the State of Massachusetts:
First, your employees are covered.
All full-time and part-time employees will be covered when you purchase workers’ comp for your business.
Is your business a corporation?
If so, your corporate officers are automatically included in your workers’ comp policy. However, under the Workers’ Compensation Act, any corporate officer holding at least a 25% interest in a company may exclude themselves from the provisions of the Workers' Compensation Act.
To exercise this right of exemption, the corporate officers must sign Form 153, the Affidavit of Exemption for Certain Corporate Officers or Directors, and send it for approval to the DIA.
Is your business a sole proprietorship?
Sole proprietors, members of an LLC, partnerships, and partners in an LLP are exempt from the workers’ comp requirement. Massachusetts workers’ compensation laws do not offer a waiver or exemption form for businesses not required to carry coverage; however, they may now choose to purchase workers’ compensation insurance for themselves.
Want workers’ comp anyway? Contact your insurance company. (Note that not every insurance company offers coverage for sole proprietors).
Step 4: How do I get workers' comp in Massachusetts?
There are 2 main ways to get workers’ comp insurance in Massachusetts:
- The traditional way: Find an insurance agent, insurance broker, or workers’ compensation insurance company and fill out many paper forms, provide payroll information and other supporting documents—then wait for a quote. This process can take up to a few weeks, so don’t procrastinate.
- The digital way: Get a quote in about 5 minutes. Everything is online. Everything is easy.
Step 5: What is the cost of workers’ comp in Massachusetts?
It depends on what kind of business you run and the size of your payroll. The bigger your payroll, the more you’ll spend on workers’ comp. Your rate will also change based on your industry. A tech company, for example, will pay a lot less for workers’ comp than a construction company would—even if their payrolls are identical.
Regarding specific workers’ comp costs and premiums, Huckleberry customers have gotten coverage for as little as $16 per month—not even a dollar per day.
You can find a temporary total of how much you would pay by getting a workers’ comp instant estimate.
Step 6: What are the workers’ compensation insurance limits in Massachusetts?
When you request a workers’ comp estimate, your rate will automatically be calculated based on payroll and other factors—and there’s nothing you need to think about or decide.
The amount your insurance company might pay is theoretically unlimited. Suppose a worker becomes permanently disabled or has a total disability because of a work-related injury, for example. In that case, an insurance company might pay disability benefits to that worker for the rest of that worker’s lifetime. And, yes, this means that all workers’ comp insurers sell the same product.
Step 7: So, what does workers’ comp cover in Massachusetts?
Workers’ compensation benefits cover medical treatment and costs for work-related illnesses for injured workers.
Suppose your employee has some medical issue or occupational disease directly from employment. In that case, workers’ comp insurance will step in to ensure they have the funds they need to recover and join the workforce again. It will also pay out wage loss benefits (and lump sum death benefits, should the worst happen).Now let’s look at the details of Massachusetts workers’ comp insurance.
Under Mass workers’ comp laws, if one of your employees gets injured on the job, workers’ comp takes care of medical bills and other associated costs that fall under a workers’ compensation claim.
For example, workers’ comp may cover expenses for a back injury from a sudden accident or the cost of treating carpal tunnel syndrome if your employee has been injured because of a repetitive motion at work. Pre-existing conditions aggravated by workplace duties—assuming the primary cause of the disability or partial disability is the work injury—could also be covered, as could diseases and infections resulting from the initial injury. Even travel costs to and from appointments and physical therapy would likely fall under workers’ comp coverage.
Workers’ comp will cover most expenses associated with a work-related illness or personal injury.
On the other hand, Massachusetts workers’ comp would probably not cover medical expenses for an injury resulting from ignoring safety regulations and workplace rules, nor would it cover an employee if they were injured because of being intoxicated or under the influence of illegal substances on the job. Also, Massachusetts workers’ compensation laws clarify that workers’ comp medical benefits do not cover “pain and suffering” or stress-related conditions, making heart attacks a bit of a gray area. (But, hey, it’s good practice not to stress your employees out.)
If a workplace injury is severe enough to cause an employee to miss work, workers’ comp can help bridge the financial gap.
Should the worst happen, workers’ compensation weekly benefits can help pay for funeral expenses and other costs associated with the death. It will also pay out dependency benefits to the employee’s family members.
Step 8: What should I do if my Massachusetts employee is injured and needs workers’ comp?
Unfortunately, accidents can happen even in the safest of workplaces. But we’re here to help.
Here’s what to do immediately after a workplace accident
Make sure your employee gets medical attention.
This is your priority. Call 911 immediately for severe and life-threatening injuries, and arrange transportation to the nearest Urgent Care for less-severe injuries. Seriously, take care of your people before you do anything else.
Let your insurance company know.
Call your insurance agent and open a workers’ compensation case. The insurance rep may fill out a form for you and send copies within 3 calendar days. But, if they don’t, you’ll need to fill out the form yourself.
Document the job injury.
Fill out the insurance coverage form, then give your insurance carrier and employee a copy ASAP. Insurance companies prefer that the injured employee sign the form, but you can write “not available” in their signature box if they can't. (If you’re a Huckleberry customer, you can also find this form online in your customer portal.)
Covered the big stuff? Let’s look at some other things you need to know.
Who is responsible for relaying information between the insurance carrier and employee?
That would be you—the employer. It’s essential to promptly relay information from the insurance carrier to the employee (and vice versa), regardless of the employee’s claim.
Once the initial form is turned in, the insurance company will decide whether the workers’ comp claim is eligible for benefits. If they decide it is, they will choose a medical practitioner to take on the employee’s diagnosis and medical care and give the option for one change of medical practitioner.
You, the employer, must get a list of the employee’s work limitations (if applicable) from the doctor’s office and report them to the insurance company.
Then, if the doctor determines that your employee can return to work at a limited capacity, you’ll need to inform the insurance company of what sort of restrictions you’re accommodating, and whether the employee is earning the same wages they were before.
We can’t emphasize this enough: Keep in touch with your insurance adjuster regularly while making these decisions and observations.
What happens if a Massachusetts employee dies on the job?
Worst-case scenario—someone dies on the job. Here’s what to do.
First, contact the Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents at 1-800-323-3249 or online at www.mass.gov to tell them of the incident and the death. We recommend doing it as soon as possible.
Next, fill out an injury or illness form—the Employer’s First Report of Injury or Fatality, Form 101—and send it to your insurance carrier.
Finally, give your insurance company a follow-up call. They’ll be able to tell you the appropriate next steps.
Any additional information I should be passing along?
Yes. You should have already posted work comp information—a notice to employees poster— in a conspicuous place, a requirement under Mass workers’ compensation laws. This information includes your insurance company’s name and phone numbers, an anti-fraud statement, and the expiration date of your policy. Failure to post this information may result in a $100 fine.
Congratulations! You did it! You’ve just learned how to secure workers’ compensation insurance per Mass workers’ compensation laws!
Have more questions? Your insurance company has done all of this before.
Know that your insurance company is there to walk you through the intricacies of state laws surrounding the workers’ compensation system. If you have any questions, give them a call. They’ll make sure you’re getting the guidance you need.
Just remember, for all things business insurance, Huckleberry has you covered.
In less time than it takes to plan a trip from Fall River to Lawrence to Worcester to Boston—and elsewhere throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts—Huckleberry can provide you with online insurance quotes and policy options that protect your business now and in the years to come.