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Understanding the Cost of Workers’ Compensation Insurance for Your Business

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Understanding the Cost of Workers’ Compensation Insurance for Your Business


How much does workers’ compensation insurance cost? The national median monthly cost in 2023 was $67, and the average rate was $119 per month for new Progressive customers.

When running a business, protecting your employees is crucial. One key way to do this is by having workers’ compensation insurance. This coverage is essential because it helps cover medical expenses and lost wages if workers are injured or become ill due to their job.

But the cost of workers’ compensation insurance can vary widely. Several factors influence this, including the type of work your employees perform, your company’s claims history, and the state you operate in.

Understanding these costs and the factors that affect them can help you manage your expenses more effectively. We’ll break down what you need to know about workers’ comp insurance and how to potentially save on your premium.

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What Is Workers’ Compensation Insurance?

Workers’ compensation insurance, often called workers’ comp, is a type of insurance that provides financial protection to businesses and their employees. It covers medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, and lost wages if an employee gets injured or sick due to their job.


In simple terms, workers’ compensation insurance is a policy that helps take care of employees who get hurt or become ill because of their work. It ensures that employees don’t have to worry about medical bills or lost income while they recover.


The primary purpose of workers’ compensation insurance is to protect both employees and employers. For employees, it guarantees that they will receive necessary medical treatment and financial support if they can’t work due to a job-related injury or illness. For employers, it helps avoid costly lawsuits by providing a structured way to handle workplace injuries.

Example: Imagine a construction worker gets injured on the job. With workers’ comp, their medical bills and a portion of their lost wages are covered, reducing the financial burden on both the worker and the employer.

Legal Requirement

In most states, having workers’ compensation insurance is not just a good idea—it’s the law. Nearly every state requires businesses with employees to carry this insurance. However, the specific requirements can vary:

  • Texas is the only state where workers’ comp is not mandatory, but it is highly recommended.
  • States like Tennessee require businesses with five or more employees to have workers’ comp insurance.
  • Construction businesses often have stricter requirements due to the higher risk involved in the industry.

Workers' Compensation Insurance - how much does workers compensation insurance cost

Failing to comply with these laws can result in hefty fines and other penalties. Therefore, it’s crucial for business owners to understand and follow their state’s regulations regarding workers’ comp.

Fact: In Tennessee, the average cost of workers’ compensation insurance is around $50 per month, and it is mandatory for businesses with five or more employees.

Understanding what workers’ compensation insurance is and its importance will help you make informed decisions for your business. Next, we’ll dive into the costs associated with workers’ comp and what influences them.

How Much Does Workers’ Compensation Insurance Cost?

Understanding the cost of workers’ compensation insurance is crucial for any business owner. In 2023, the national median monthly cost of workers’ compensation insurance was $67 for new Progressive customers. The average rate was higher, at $119 per month. The median price is often more reflective of what most policyholders pay because it avoids the distortion caused by high and low outliers.

For a broader perspective, Insureon reports that the average cost of workers’ compensation insurance is about $45 per month, which totals $542 per year. This average can vary significantly depending on several factors, which we’ll discuss later.

Fact: Nearly a quarter (23%) of small business owners pay less than $30 per month for workers’ compensation insurance, while 40% pay between $30 and $60. The remaining 37% pay more than $60 per month.

Why the variation in costs? Workers’ compensation insurance is state-regulated, and each state has its own rules and calculations. For example, the national average cost is approximately $1.19 per $100 of payroll, according to the National Academy of Social Insurance. However, the exact rate can differ based on your business’s specific circumstances.

Next, we’ll explore the various factors that influence the cost of workers’ compensation insurance.

Factors Influencing Workers’ Compensation Insurance Costs

When asking, how much does workers compensation insurance cost, consider several key factors. These elements play a significant role in determining your premiums.


State Regulations

Each state has its own workers’ compensation laws, which impact insurance premiums. For instance, the cost per $100 of payroll can vary widely between states. In 2020, the rate in California was $1.45, while in Texas, it was only $0.46.

High-Risk States

Certain states are considered high-risk due to the nature of prevalent industries or regulatory environments. For example, Alaska, known for its rugged work conditions, had a cost of $1.74 per $100 of payroll in 2020.

Number of Employees

Employee Count Impact

The number of employees directly affects your workers’ compensation costs. More employees mean a higher likelihood of claims. If you have five employees, your premium will be higher than if you’re a sole proprietor.

Risk of Claims

Statistics show that 34% of workplace injuries occur within an employee’s first year. This means businesses with higher turnover rates may face increased premiums due to the elevated risk of claims.

Annual Payroll

Payroll Calculation

Your annual payroll is a critical factor. Insurance companies use this figure to calculate premiums. For example, if your payroll is $500,000 and your state rate is $1.19 per $100 of payroll, your annual premium would be:

$500,000 / 100 x $1.19 = $5,950

Rate per $100

The rate per $100 of payroll can vary. The national average in 2020 was $1.19, but states like Arkansas had a lower rate of $0.63, while Wyoming had a higher rate of $1.78.

Type of Work

NCCI Class Codes

Workers’ compensation rates are influenced by the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) class codes. These codes classify job types by risk level. For example, a desk job like accounting will have a lower rate than a high-risk job like electrical work.

Risk Levels

Jobs with higher physical risks, such as construction, have higher premiums. In contrast, industries like IT, which generally have lower physical risks, enjoy lower rates.


Construction vs. IT

Industries with higher risks, like construction, usually face higher premiums. Construction workers are more prone to injuries, leading to higher claims. Conversely, IT companies often have lower premiums due to the relatively safe work environment.

Risk Assessment

Insurance companies assess the risk associated with your industry. They consider factors like the nature of the work and historical claim data to determine your premium.

Claims History

Experience Modification Factor

Your claims history heavily influences your premiums. The experience modification factor (EMR) adjusts your rate based on past claims. A business with fewer claims will have a lower EMR, resulting in lower premiums.

Past Claims Impact

Both the number and severity of past claims are considered. A single severe claim can significantly increase your premium. Conversely, a clean claims history can lead to discounts.

Understanding these factors can help you better manage your workers’ compensation costs. Next, we’ll explore ways to save money on your workers’ compensation insurance.

Saving Money on Workers’ Compensation Insurance

Prioritize Workplace Safety


Regular employee training is crucial. Teach your staff proper workplace procedures to reduce the likelihood of accidents. For example, instruct them on how to identify hazards and report them immediately.

Risk Manager

Hiring a risk manager can also be beneficial. They can oversee safety protocols, conduct regular safety checks, and ensure compliance with safety standards. This proactive approach can help prevent accidents before they occur.

Accident Prevention

Implementing a written accident prevention program can significantly reduce workplace injuries. This can include measures like installing fire-retardant sprinkler systems, adding more fire extinguishers and smoke detectors, and upgrading your security system.

Correct Class Codes

Avoid Misclassification

Ensure that you use the correct class codes for each of your employees. Misclassifying a low-risk job as a high-risk one can unnecessarily increase your premiums.

High-Risk Codes

High-risk jobs have higher class codes and thus higher premiums. Double-check these codes to avoid mistakes. For instance, a construction worker will have a different code than an office worker, and getting this wrong can cost you.

Pay-As-You-Go Policies

Payroll-Based Payments

Pay-as-you-go workers’ comp insurance allows you to pay based on your actual payroll. This means you only pay for what you need, helping you manage costs more effectively.

Seasonal Adjustments

For businesses with seasonal employees, pay-as-you-go policies are particularly beneficial. You can adjust your payments based on your payroll, avoiding the risk of overpaying or underpaying during the year.

By implementing these strategies, you can significantly reduce your workers’ compensation insurance costs. Next, we’ll address some frequently asked questions about workers’ compensation insurance.

Frequently Asked Questions about Workers’ Compensation Insurance

What is the most expensive workers comp claim?

The most expensive workers’ compensation claims often involve severe injuries or illnesses. According to a Travelers Insurance analysis, overexertion is the most common cause of work-related injuries. These injuries can lead to extensive medical treatment and long recovery times, resulting in high costs. For example, injuries requiring surgeries or long-term physical therapy can be particularly costly.

Who is required to have workers comp in Tennessee?

In Tennessee, most businesses with five or more employees are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. This includes family members, part-time workers, and corporate officers if they meet the state’s definition of an employee. However, construction businesses or trades must have workers’ comp if they have just one or more employees. Even a sole proprietor, partner, corporate officer, or LLC member in construction can apply for an exemption. Coal mining firms with employees must also provide coverage.

What is the maximum compensation rate in Tennessee?

The maximum compensation rate in Tennessee varies based on the state’s average weekly wage (SAWW). Workers’ comp benefits typically cover a portion of the injured worker’s average weekly wage, up to a maximum limit. For the most current maximum compensation rate, refer to the Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s page on benefits.

Next, we’ll dive deeper into the importance of choosing the right workers’ compensation insurance policy and how ISU Armac can help you navigate this crucial decision.


Choosing the right workers’ compensation insurance policy is crucial for protecting both your employees and your business. It ensures that your employees are covered in case of work-related injuries or illnesses, and it helps your business comply with legal requirements while managing costs effectively.

At ISU Armac, we understand the complexities of workers’ compensation insurance. We are committed to helping you find the best policy that fits your unique needs. With our extensive experience and a wide array of insurance products, we can guide you through the process of selecting, managing, and optimizing your workers’ compensation coverage.

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Why Choose ISU Armac?

  1. Expert Guidance: Our specialists are well-versed in the intricacies of workers’ comp insurance. We can help you understand the factors that influence your premiums and identify opportunities for cost savings.

  2. Customized Solutions: We tailor our recommendations based on your specific industry, number of employees, and claims history. This personalized approach ensures you get the most appropriate and cost-effective coverage.

  3. Comprehensive Support: From initial consultation to ongoing policy management, we provide continuous support to help you maintain compliance and manage risks effectively.

  4. Competitive Rates: By comparing quotes from multiple carriers, we ensure you get the best rates available without compromising on coverage.

Choosing the right workers’ compensation policy is not just about compliance; it’s about safeguarding your business and your employees. Trust ISU Armac to help you navigate this critical aspect of your business insurance needs.

Ready to secure the right workers’ compensation insurance for your business? Get a quote today!

By partnering with ISU Armac, you can focus on what you do best—running your business—while we take care of your insurance needs.