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The employer’s guide to South Carolina workers’ comp insurance

The idea of small business insurance can sometimes seem overwhelming for South Carolina entrepreneurs, especially when it comes to workers’ compensation laws.

However, workers’ comp is usually required in The Palmetto State, and it’s quite straightforward. Let’s look at what you need to know to comply with South Carolina workers’ compensation laws.

Is workers’ comp coverage required in South Carolina?

Many small business owners believe that they automatically have to enroll in workers’ compensation insurance the moment they form their business. Still, in South Carolina, not every employer is required to purchase such a plan.

Entrepreneurs who employ at least 4 individuals, be they part-time or full-time, and who have a total annual payroll of at least $3,000 are legally required to buy workers’ comp coverage. Only three people on your payroll? Technically, you’re absolved from enrolling in a policy, although it may be in your best interests to do so anyway.

There are a few exceptions to consider that may exclude you from purchasing workers’ compensation coverage above and beyond what we’ve just mentioned:

  • Some business entities won’t need to worry about workers’ comp insurance, like sole proprietors who either work completely alone or hire independent contractors to help with non-essential tasks occasionally. In these situations, neither the business owner nor the independent contractor would legally necessitate coverage.
  • LLCs and corporations may have the option to exclude certain members of their business from coverage, including corporate officers. In most cases, completing a Corporate Officer's Notice to Reject form is all that’s needed to make the change.
  • The State of South Carolina also stipulates that real estate agents, agricultural employees (as well as those who sell agricultural products), and casual workers are relieved from workers’ comp requirements. Railroad company employees, as well as federal employees, are also typically exempt.

Remember, casual workers and independent contractors cannot perform tasks that are critical to the operation of your business. If they do and are injured on the job, they may have a legal basis to claim workers’ comp should’ve covered them.

If you’re not sure whether you legally need to offer workers’ compensation benefits to those on your payroll, it’s best to contact the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission for more information.

What happens if I don’t enroll in workers’ comp in South Carolina?

A work-related injury affects more than just your employee, especially if you don’t have workers’ compensation insurance in place. Assuming your business is one that legally requires workers’ comp coverage, yet you fail to offer it, you could face a wealth of expenses.

Unlike many other states, South Carolina doesn’t specifically state the consequences of failing to comply with workers’ compensation laws. There are no clear-cut fines based on non-compliance, nor is it determined whether criminal charges or the potential loss of one’s business license is on the line.

The one thing a business owner can count on is paying for the care of their injured workers. South Carolina supports injured employees through its Uninsured Employers Fund, covering medical expenses, ongoing medical treatment, and lost wages equivalent to two-thirds of their average weekly wage. To recover their money, the UEF places a lien on a business owner’s assets until every penny has been repaid to the fund.

Initially, the idea of paying out a monthly sum for workers’ compensation insurance may not sound super attractive, but it’s far cheaper compared to the expense of repaying the UEF. If saving money is your ultimate goal, get an estimate for workers’ comp coverage in minutes and see exactly how much you can save.

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

To a certain extent, business owners have options in South Carolina when it comes to who they cover under their workers’ compensation plan. As we’ve mentioned, sole proprietors don’t need to enroll in coverage for themselves. If you end up purchasing a policy for your employees, that policy will exclude you unless you let your insurance carrier know otherwise.

Other types of businesses, like partnerships and LLCs, also exclude higher-ups automatically. If your partners or members want to be covered, you’ll need to let your insurer know. Officers of a corporation are the outliers, as they are automatically covered under your workers’ comp policy. Submitting a simple form to your insurance carrier can change that, though.

How do I purchase workers’ compensation insurance in South Carolina?

Small business owners who find themselves needing workers’ compensation insurance can go about it in one of several ways. Based on your unique company needs, you can enroll in coverage through one of the following approaches:

  • Brokers are typically well-versed in workers’ compensation laws and can obtain multiple quotes on your behalf. Sounds great, right? Most business owners find this process to be lengthy, requiring a ton of paperwork and often leaving you waiting for weeks on end.
  • Suppose you’re a new company and don’t have a track record for workers’ comp. In that case, you may want to consider enrolling in state coverage administered by the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI). Every effort is made to provide affordable coverage through this system.
  • Instead of partnering with a broker, business owners can go about things the old-fashioned way and reach out to insurance companies directly. Again, one of the more time-consuming options, you’ll probably be asked to fill out a lot of paperwork each time you request a quote.
  • Large companies with a healthy financial status may opt for self-insurance instead of working with an insurance company. You can apply with the South Carolina Self-Insurance Division, but remember, a workplace injury can be significantly expensive.

If none of the options above sound appealing, we don’t blame you. Many entrepreneurs find that shopping for South Carolina workers’ comp is easiest when done online. Grab a cup of coffee and start your free business insurance quote today.

How much does workers’ comp cost in South Carolina?

While workers’ compensation laws apply to a wide range of employers in South Carolina, the premium for such insurance isn’t the same across all industries. Workers’ comp coverage is calculated using several business-specific factors, including your industry and the size of your payroll. Ultimately, like other insurance policies, workers’ comp premiums are priced based on overall risk.

That doesn’t mean a construction company will have to pay exponentially more than an accounting firm for coverage, though. Most South Carolina employers pay an average of $150 per month in workers’ comp premiums, a mere drop in the bucket compared to the potential expenses associated with a work-related injury. See for yourself by spending just a few minutes to get a free quote with Huckleberry.

What are the workers’ compensation policy limits in South Carolina?

Some small business insurance policies place limits on your coverage, but South Carolina workers’ compensation doesn’t function in the same way. All workers’ compensation coverage is the same and is dictated by the state, so all qualifying work-related injuries and occupational diseases are covered, no matter the details.

Business owners don’t have to choose coverage limits when they enroll in a policy, and every insurance company is basically selling the same product within the marketplace. Employer’s workers may receive disability benefits, compensation for lost wages, reimbursement for medical treatment, and more, and your insurance premiums won’t change.

The only factors you’ll need to consider are the size of your payroll and the industry you’re in rather than having to wonder if you should be choosing a more robust policy. Your best bet is to find an affordable policy without having to worry that you’re sacrificing great coverage.

What does South Carolina workers’ comp cover?

You can count on your workers’ compensation insurance to cover on-the-job injuries and occupational diseases sustained by any of your full-time or part-time employees. While the list of covered scenarios is nearly endless, it’s important to remember a few exceptions.

Work-related injuries that occur during an illegal activity, are self-inflicted, or are sustained while your employee is under the influence of illegal drugs or alcohol will likely result in a denied workers’ comp claim pretty quickly. Other non-tangible concerns like stress or mental illness usually aren’t covered either.

The range of benefits available is also fairly exhaustive and is unique to each personal injury. An employee may only receive one week of lost wages at a compensation rate of two-thirds of their average weekly wage and then return to work healed. Others might go on permanent disability, while some individuals need assistance paying for ongoing medical expenses before eventually returning to the job site.

Every workers’ comp situation will be different, but it’s your job as an employer to ensure your injured worker receives proper medical care and to file a workers’ comp claim as soon as possible. Remember that South Carolina workers’ compensation laws were designed to protect both you and your employees, so never hesitate to file a claim.

What should I do if my South Carolina employee is injured and needs to file a workers’ compensation claim?

No matter how careful SC workers may be, work-related injuries can happen in the blink of an eye. If one of your employees is injured on the job, here’s what to do:

  1. Above all else, make sure your employee receives appropriate medical care as soon as possible. If you need to call 911, do it. Otherwise, ensure your staff member visits the nearest urgent care clinic and follow up on their medical treatment.
  2. Once you know your employee is safe, it’s time to turn to the paperwork. You’ll want to fill out and submit Form 12A, the First Report of Injury or Illness. This form is critical to the workers’ compensation claim process, so fill it out completely and accurately. It’s important to know that employees in South Carolina have 90 days to let you know about their injuries, but you may want to encourage your staff to report injuries as soon as possible.
  3. Finally, call your insurance company to file a claim formally. This call might seem intimidating, but insurers have dealt with countless workers’ compensation claims before, and they’ll guide you through the process every step of the way. We’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating—South Carolina workers’ compensation laws are in place to protect you and your employee, so you don’t have to worry about telling your insurance company what happened.

The paperwork and phone calls may not stop there, so it’s best to keep an eye on your mailbox and follow up every step of the way. Depending on the outcome of the claim, you could have to provide your insurer with additional forms. If the claim is denied or something out of the ordinary comes up, it might be smart to contact a law firm before going any further.

On the surface, workers’ compensation coverage can seem intimidating, expensive, and downright scary to some South Carolina employers. Yet, it’s a system designed to help your employees if they sustain an injury. It benefits you, too, as you’ll be protected from enormous financial obligations and potential lawsuits.

If you’re shopping for workers’ compensation coverage and don’t know where to start, you can begin by getting a free business insurance quote in just a matter of minutes.

Purchasing coverage is straightforward, and you won’t have to fill out dozens of forms either. Put your mind at ease and obtain workers’ compensation coverage today—it’s better to have it and not need it than to wish you were already enrolled!

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