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Your Ultimate Guide to Obtaining Workers’ Compensation Insurance

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Your Ultimate Guide to Obtaining Workers’ Compensation Insurance


How do I get workers compensation insurance? This question is essential for any business owner looking to protect their employees and their business. Getting workers’ compensation insurance involves understanding your state laws, knowing how much coverage you need, and choosing between private or state-funded options. Here’s a quick guide to get you started:

  1. Determine your coverage needs: Evaluate the number and type of employees, the nature of their work, and your payroll size.
  2. Check state requirements: Each state has different laws regarding workers’ compensation.
  3. Choose a provider: Decide between private insurance companies, state-funded programs, or a combination of both.
  4. Get a quote: Use online tools or enlist the help of an insurance agent or broker.

Workers’ compensation insurance is crucial for protecting your employees from work-related injuries or illnesses. It’s not just a legal requirement in most states, but a vital safety net that ensures your team can recover and get back to work quickly.

In simple terms, having workers’ comp helps cover medical expenses, lost wages, and rehabilitation costs. It’s legally required for businesses with employees and involves selecting the right coverage based on various factors, including your state’s laws and the nature of your business.

Workers Compensation Process Overview - how do i get workers compensation insurance infographic step-infographic-4-steps

Understanding Workers’ Compensation Insurance

Workers’ compensation insurance is a safety net for both employees and employers. It provides financial protection when employees get injured or fall ill due to their job. Let’s break down the essentials.


Workers’ compensation insurance generally covers:

  • Medical Expenses: Costs like hospital stays, surgeries, and medications.
  • Lost Wages: A portion of the employee’s salary while they recover.
  • Physical Therapy: Ongoing treatment needed for recovery.
  • Death Benefits: Funeral costs and support for the deceased employee’s family.

For example, if a construction worker falls from a scaffold and breaks a leg, workers’ comp would cover the hospital bills and part of their lost wages while they heal.


The benefits of workers’ compensation insurance extend to both employees and employers:

  • For Employees:
  • Financial Support: Covers medical bills and lost income.
  • Peace of Mind: Knowing they are protected if something goes wrong at work.

  • For Employers:

  • Legal Protection: Reduces the risk of being sued by employees.
  • Employee Retention: Helps in maintaining a loyal workforce by showing you care about their well-being.

According to Forbes, overexertion is the most common cause of work-related injuries, making workers’ comp crucial for industries like construction and manufacturing.

State Laws

Each state in the U.S. has its own laws regarding workers’ compensation insurance. Here are a few key points:

  • Mandatory Coverage: Most states require businesses with one or more employees to have workers’ comp.
  • State-Specific Rules: Some states, like North Dakota and Ohio, have monopolistic state funds, meaning you must buy coverage through the state.
  • Competitive States: States like Colorado offer both private and state-funded options, giving businesses the flexibility to choose.

In New Jersey, for example, even domestic and farm workers are covered, unlike in some other states.

Federal Programs

The U.S. Department of Labor administers several federal workers’ compensation programs for specific groups:

  • Federal Employees’ Compensation Program
  • Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Program
  • Federal Black Lung Program
  • Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program

These programs are designed to provide wage replacement, medical treatment, and other benefits to federal workers and specific groups who suffer occupational injuries or illnesses.

With different state laws and federal programs, understanding workers’ compensation insurance can be complex. But having the right coverage ensures both you and your employees are protected, leading to a safer and more secure workplace.

workers compensation - how do i get workers compensation insurance

How Do I Get Workers’ Compensation Insurance?

Getting workers’ compensation insurance might seem complicated, but it’s pretty straightforward once you know what to do. Let’s break it down.

Insurance Carriers

Most employers buy workers’ comp insurance from private insurance carriers, similar to how you would buy auto or home insurance. In Colorado, for example, there are over 500 licensed insurance companies that can provide coverage. One well-known provider is Pinnacol Assurance, which is required to offer workers’ comp insurance to any Colorado employer.


Some businesses prefer to self-insure, meaning they set aside funds to cover potential workers’ comp claims instead of buying a policy. This option is available for larger companies with strong financial health.

Individual Self-Insurance Requirements:
– Must be in business for at least 5 years
– Need at least 300 full-time employees or assets of $100 million
– Must have excess insurance coverage and security like a surety bond

For those who can’t meet these criteria, joining a self-insurance pool is another option. These pools allow smaller businesses to band together to meet the requirements collectively.

State vs. Private Insurance

Where you get your workers’ comp insurance can depend on your state’s laws. Some states offer both private and state-funded options, while others are monopolistic, meaning you have to buy from a state-run program.

For example, businesses in North Dakota, Ohio, Washington, and Wyoming must get their coverage through state-funded programs. On the other hand, states like New Jersey allow you to choose between private insurers and state-funded programs.

Online Quotes

Getting a workers’ comp quote online is fast and convenient. Many insurance companies offer online tools to help you get a quote without leaving your home. You’ll need to provide information like your payroll size, number of employees, and the types of work they do.

Steps to Get a Quote Online:
1. Visit an insurance company’s website.
2. Fill out the online form with your business details.
3. Compare quotes from different insurers to find the best rate.

It’s essential to understand what each policy covers and how much coverage you need before making a decision.

With multiple options available, you can find a workers’ comp policy that fits your business needs and budget. Whether you opt for a private insurer, a state-funded program, or even self-insurance, ensuring you have the right coverage is crucial for protecting your employees and your business.

Navigating State Requirements for Workers’ Compensation

When it comes to workers’ compensation insurance, understanding state requirements is crucial. Each state has its own rules and regulations, and knowing these can help you get the right coverage for your business.

Colorado Requirements

In Colorado, all employers must carry workers’ compensation insurance. You have two main options:

  1. Commercial Insurance: Purchase a policy from a private insurance carrier. Colorado doesn’t have a state fund, but Pinnacol Assurance is required to provide coverage to any employer in the state. There are also over 500 licensed insurance companies to choose from.

  2. Self-Insurance: If you meet certain criteria—such as being in business for at least five years and having at least 300 full-time employees or $100 million in assets—you can apply for self-insurance. This option requires an exemplary financial position, excess insurance coverage, and claims adjusting capabilities.

Monopolistic States

Some states have monopolistic state-funded workers’ compensation programs. This means businesses must purchase their workers’ comp insurance exclusively through the state. These states are:

  • Ohio
  • North Dakota
  • Washington
  • Wyoming

In these states, private insurance companies cannot sell workers’ comp policies, so you must go through the state fund.

Competitive States

In competitive states, both private insurers and state-funded programs offer workers’ compensation insurance. This setup allows you to shop around and compare quotes from different providers to find the best rate and coverage for your business.

State-Funded Programs

Some states have state-funded programs that compete with private insurers. If you can’t find coverage through a private insurer, a state fund can provide a fallback option to ensure your employees are protected.

For example, while Colorado doesn’t have a state fund, other states offer this option. This is beneficial for businesses that might struggle to get coverage from private insurers due to high-risk factors or other issues.

Navigating these state requirements can be complex, but understanding them helps you make informed decisions about your workers’ comp insurance. Always check your specific state’s regulations to ensure compliance and optimal coverage for your business.

Calculating Your Workers’ Compensation Insurance Costs

Understanding how workers’ compensation insurance costs are calculated can help you manage your business expenses better. Here are the key factors:


Your annual payroll is a primary factor in determining your workers’ comp premiums. Insurers use your payroll figures to calculate how much coverage you need. For example, if your annual payroll is $500,000, and your state’s rate is $1.19 per $100 of payroll, your base premium would be $5,950.

Employee Classification

Employees are classified based on the type of work they do. Each job type has a classification rate, which reflects the risk level associated with that job. The National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) maintains over 700 class codes. Riskier jobs, like construction work, have higher rates compared to lower-risk jobs like office work.

For instance, if you have electricians and office staff, the electrician’s classification rate will be higher due to the increased risk of injury on the job.

Risk Assessment

Insurers assess the overall risk of your business. This includes looking at your claims history. If your business has had multiple or severe claims, your premiums will be higher. Conversely, fewer or no claims can lead to lower premiums.

Experience Modification Number

The Experience Modification Factor (EMR) is a score that adjusts your premium based on your claims history compared to other businesses in your industry. A lower EMR indicates fewer claims and results in lower premiums. A new business will typically start with an industry-average EMR.

Here’s a simple formula to calculate your premium:

Classification Rate x EMR x (Payroll/100) = Workers’ Comp Premium

For example, if your classification rate is $1.50, your EMR is 1.0, and your payroll is $500,000:

$1.50 x 1.0 x (500,000/100) = $7,500

Understanding these factors can help you control your workers’ comp insurance costs effectively.

Next, let’s dive into some frequently asked questions about workers’ compensation insurance.

Frequently Asked Questions about Workers’ Compensation Insurance

Does the State of Colorado Require Workers’ Compensation Insurance?

Yes, Colorado requires most businesses to have workers’ compensation insurance if they have one or more employees. This includes both full-time and part-time workers. The state mandates this to ensure that employees are protected in case of work-related injuries or illnesses. To comply, businesses can either purchase insurance from a private carrier or opt for self-insurance if they meet specific criteria. Learn more about Colorado’s requirements.

Which Situation Qualifies a Worker for Workers’ Compensation Coverage?

Workers’ compensation covers injuries or illnesses that occur as a direct result of job-related activities. For example, if a construction worker is injured by falling debris on a job site, this would qualify for workers’ comp. However, not all situations are covered. Injuries that occur while commuting to work or due to an employee’s intoxication or illegal drug use typically do not qualify. Always report injuries immediately and consult your policy for specific coverage details.

How Long Can You Be on Workers’ Comp in Colorado?

The duration you can receive workers’ comp benefits in Colorado depends on the severity of your injury and the type of benefits you are eligible for. Temporary disability benefits are available if you’re unable to work for more than seven days and typically last until you can return to work. Permanent disability benefits may be provided if you can’t return to any gainful employment. Always check with your employer’s workers’ comp insurer for details specific to your case. Read more about benefit duration.

Next, we’ll explore the steps to choosing the right provider for your business’s workers’ compensation insurance needs.


Choosing the right provider for workers’ compensation insurance can feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Here’s how to simplify the process and make a smart choice.

Choosing the Right Provider

When selecting a workers’ compensation insurance provider, consider these key factors:

1. Understand Your Needs: Determine the level of coverage you need based on factors like the number of employees, types of jobs, and your payroll size. This will help you get accurate quotes and avoid overpaying for unnecessary coverage.

2. Compare Quotes: Get quotes from multiple providers. This can be done online or through an agent or broker. Comparing quotes ensures you get the best rate for the coverage you need.

3. Check State Requirements: Each state has different regulations regarding workers’ compensation. Verify that the provider complies with your state’s laws. For example, businesses in Colorado must have workers’ compensation insurance regardless of the number of employees.

4. Evaluate Customer Service: Read reviews and ask for references. A provider with excellent customer service can make a big difference, especially when you need to file a claim.

5. Consider Financial Stability: Choose a provider with a strong financial rating. This ensures they have the resources to pay out claims when needed.

ISU Armac: Your Trusted Partner

At ISU Armac, we understand the complexities of workers’ compensation insurance. With over 100 years of experience, we’ve helped countless businesses navigate their insurance needs.

Why Choose ISU Armac?

  • Expertise: Our workers’ compensation insurance claims specialists consistently receive top scores for customer satisfaction.
  • Flexible Billing: We offer flexible billing solutions tailored to fit your business’s cash flow.
  • Comprehensive Coverage: We provide coverage options that meet both state requirements and the unique needs of your business.

Ready to protect your business and employees? Get a workers’ comp quote today and learn how ISU Armac can help propel you and your business forward.

Workers' Compensation Insurance - how do i get workers compensation insurance