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The employer’s guide to Virginia workers’ comp insurance

Ready to figure out how to secure workers’ compensation insurance for your Virginia business? Huckleberry is here to help.

The following guide will help you learn all you need to know about Virginia workers’ compensation laws (VWC), the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act, and how to get workers’ compensation insurance.

Step 1: Is workers’ comp insurance required in Virginia?

The short answer: Yes.

But in Virginia, whether or not you need workers’ comp depends on how many employees you have. If your business employs 2 or more part-time or full-time employees, you’ll need to carry workers’ compensation insurance.

Do I need workers’ comp for Virginia subcontractors?

Subcontractors in Virginia count toward the total number of your employees—full-time or part-time—if they are hired to perform the same business, occupation, or trade as the company itself.

But—and this is important—you will need proof that a given subcontractor has purchased their own workers’ comp. If a subcontracted worker gets hurt on your project—and doesn’t have their own worker’s comp policy—you’ll be responsible for payment of benefits.

Do I need worker’s comp for independent contractors in Virginia?

If you designate some of your workers as independent contractors or pay them as 1099s, that does not necessarily free you from obtaining workers’ compensation for them under Virginia workers’ compensation laws. If it’s determined that the independent contractors—based on the work they’re performing—have an “employee” relationship with your business, they will need workers’ compensation insurance.

Other factors determining if independent contractors are considered employees and will need workers’ comp are: Who controls how their work is performed, if they can be hired or fired, and if wages are paid for their 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 Virginia?

Under Virginia workers’ compensation laws, out-of-state employers must secure workers’ compensation insurance for any work performed in Virginia, even if that work is temporary and even if you possess out-of-state workers’ compensation coverage.

Suppose you’re an out-of-state employer and already have workers’ compensation insurance in your state. In that case, you'll need to obtain Virginia workers’ compensation coverage by adding a Virginia endorsement—item 3A—to your existing policy.

Listing Virginia under item 3C of your existing policy is not sufficient. Per Virginia workers’ compensation laws, you must add the Virginia endorsement to item 3A.

However, if your out-of-state workers’ compensation coverage is with a company not licensed in Virginia, you cannot add the 3A endorsement item to your policy. Under Virginia workers’ compensation laws, the only way to properly insure your Virginia employees is through the purchase of a Virginia workers’ compensation policy via a licensed Virginia insurance carrier.

Step 2: What happens if I don’t get workers’ comp in Virginia?

If you fail to secure workers’ compensation insurance when Virginia workers’ compensation laws require, you will be given a civil penalty of up to $5,000 per occurrence.

It doesn’t seem like a good gamble, so while you’re thinking about it, get workers’ comp insurance.

Step 3: I’m a business owner in Virginia. 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 Virginia.

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.

Is your business a sole proprietorship?

Sole proprietors are exempt from the workers’ comp requirement—provided they’re the only employee—however, Virginia workers’ compensation laws do not offer a waiver or exemption form for businesses that are not required to carry coverage.

Want workers’ comp anyway? Contact your business insurance company. (Note that not every insurance company offers coverage for sole proprietors.)

Step 4: How do I get worker’s comp in Virginia?

There are 2 main ways to get workers’ comp insurance in Virginia:

  1. The traditional way: Find a commercial insurance broker, a self-insurance broker, a professional employer organization (PEO), or a group self-insurance association 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.
  2. 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 Virginia?

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.

That aside, the average cost for Virginia workers’ comp is about $114 per month, but Huckleberry customers have gotten coverage for as little as $24 per month—not even a dollar per day.

You can find a temporary total of how much you would pay by getting an instant workers’ comp estimate.

Step 6: What are the workers’ compensation insurance limits in Virginia?

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 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 Virginia?

Workers’ compensation medical 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 death benefits, should the worst happen).

Now let’s look at the details of Virginia workers’ comp insurance.

Medical expenses

Under Virginia workers’ compensation 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 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, Virginia workers’ comp would probably not cover medical expenses for an injury that results 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, Virginia workers’ compensation laws state 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).

Lost wages

If a workplace injury is severe enough to cause an employee to miss work, workers’ comp can help bridge the financial gap.

Death benefits

Should the worst happen, workers’ compensation 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.

Step 8: What should I do if my Virginia 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 first 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 you copies within 3 business 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).

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 Virginia employee dies on the job?

Worst-case scenario—someone dies on the job.

Here’s what to do.

First, contact the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission at 1-877-664-2566 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 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 in a conspicuous place, a requirement under Virginia 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.

Woohoo! You did it! You’ve just learned how to secure workers’ compensation insurance per Virginia 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 day trip around Richmond, Huckleberry can provide you with online insurance quotes and policy options that will protect your accounting practice now and in the future.

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