who is covered by workers compensation
who is covered by workers compensation

clock June 5, 2019

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Who is Covered by Worker’ Compensation? Everything You Need to Know

Did you know Maritime Workers (dock workers, commercial fishermen, captains and crew of commercial vessels, and oil rig workers) are not covered by workers’ compensation laws, but by the Jones Act?

There are many other industries and job categories that are not covered by workers’ compensation.

Read on to learn who is covered by workers’ compensation and how to ensure that your company and employees are covered.

What is Workers Compensation?

Workers’ compensation (workers’ comp) is the insurance that covers your employees when they are injured on the job or acquire a work-related illness.

Workers’ comp is paid for by you, the employer, with no employee contribution. Payment of a workers’ comp claim can be expensive as it covers not only medical expenses but also wage loss compensation.  

Workers’ comp is not covered by the U.S Department of Labor but by a private insurance company or state-run workers’ comp fund. 

The cost of workers compensation insurance is based on job category and the risk of injury associated with that job classification. Office staff have less of a risk of injury and therefore a lower cost of insurance compared to employees working on a manufacturing floor. 

Workers’ compensation is based on a percentage of the employee’s salary and job classification. It is a premium based on yearly salaries, so there is an annual audit to ensure that salary estimates match the actual salary.

Workers’ compensation coverage can be affordable, click here for an online quote.

Who is Not Covered by Workers’ Compensation?

Some industries or job classifications are not covered by workers’ compensation insurance, read on to see if your business is one of them.

Business Owners, Sole Proprietors, and Partners

In most states, these job classifications are not covered by their own companies insurance.

In a sole proprietor situation, you may want to have workers’ comp coverage for yourself depending on your industry. If you are a landscaper the answer should be yes, if you are an accountant, you may opt out of coverage. R

Regardless of your decision, you should discuss it with your insurance company. Workers’ compensation rates are based on job classification and premiums may be as low as $250 a year.


Although volunteers do great work and are highly utilized by non-profits, they are not employees. As a result, they are not covered by workers comp insurance. 

You can, however, purchase workers’ compensation insurance for your volunteers if you want. Note: volunteers are not covered because they are not paid. You can, however, provide them with food, transportation, and lodging as those are not considered payment.  

Federal Employees, Railroad Employees, and Longshoremen

Just like maritime workers, federal employees, railroad employees, and longshoremen (dock workers) are not covered by traditional workers’ compensation insurance. Below is a list of the laws that cover worker’s compensation for these industries. 

Independent Contractors

An independent contractor sometimes called a 1099 employee, is not covered by the workers’ compensation insurance. 

The challenge, in this case, is the question of whether the individual truly an independent contractor who sets their own hours? Or are they really an employee?

If you are unsure, consult an attorney to confirm. If there is a gray area you may want to obtain coverage so that you are not forced to pay high fines if something happens to that individual on the job. 

Other Exceptions to Workers’ Compensation Coverage

Typical examples of excluded workers include:

  • part-time domestic workers, i.e. maids and nannies
  • part-time gardeners or maintenance workers
  • intermittent workers
  • taxi drivers
  • some agricultural workers

How Workers’ Comp Defines a Covered Injury

If an employee is injured or acquires a work-related illness while performing the duties associated with their jobs, they are covered by workers’ compensation.

Understanding how the law describes illness or injury is important for employers to understand. Employers can use this knowledge to improve safety and prevent injuries

Below is a list of instances where you may not think an employee is covered but they are. 

Injuries at Work During a Break?

If employees remain at your place of business during a lunch break, they are typically covered by workers’ compensation because they are saving, you, the employer time and are remaining accessible.  

The opposite is true if employees leave the office for lunch, unless they are attending a business meeting, for example.  

Injuries at Work Before Clocking In or After Clocking Out?

Most of these injuries happen in parking lots in this instance they are covered. After employees leave the property their injuries are typically not covered.  

Off-Site Injuries that Are Covered

Below is a lit of injuries that are covered by workers’ compensation:

  • employees working from home
  • employees taking work calls in the car
  • during job-related training
  • while traveling to and from work sites
  • while on work-related travel this includes traveling to conferences

Who is Covered by Workers’ Compensation Insurance?

In short, if your industry is not mentioned above you should carry workers’ compensation insurance. Failure to do so will result in you paying the medical costs and lost wages on top of stiff penalties.

Don’t put yourself or your company at risk, contact us. Our team can help you choose the right workers’ compensation plan for your company.

If you are still unsure of who is covered by workers compensation insurance and who is not, we can help you make that determination with confidence. 

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