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Workers’ compensation insurance pays for medical care and rehabilitation for employees who are injured on the job or contract a work-related illness. Workers’ compensation also covers a portion of an employee’s lost wages, disability benefits and death benefits for the dependents of employees killed in work-related accidents.
Workers’ compensation covers all of the employees of a business except independent contractors. Special provisions must be made if employees work out-of-state.
Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system. This means that injured employees do not have to sue their employers to receive compensation. Compensation is automatic for covered benefits. Except in cases of extreme negligence, employers are generally protected from liability due to work-related injuries and illnesses.
For example, if an employee is hurt on the job, the injury is immediately reported to the workers’ compensation insurer. The employee receives whatever medical care is needed and the insurer pays the bills.
If the employee cannot work for a limited period of time because of the injury, the insurer pays the employee a portion of his or her lost wages. If the employee cannot return to work because of a permanent injury, the insurer pays to train the employee for another job. If the employee dies because of the injury, the insurer pays death benefits to the worker’s dependents.
Who Needs Workers’ Compensation?
Employers in all states except Texas and New Jersey are required by law to have workers’ compensation insurance. And in New Jersey, employers that do not have workers’ compensation coverage can suffer penalties so severe that the obligation is optional in theory only.
Each state sets its own benefit levels, so coverage does not differ among various workers’ compensation insurers within a state.
In North Dakota, Washington, Wyoming and Ohio only the state can sell workers’ compensation coverage.
Several states operate a worker’s compensation fund that serves as a workers’ compensation insurance company for employers in the state. These funds are available to ensure that workers’ compensation insurance is available to all employers in the state, even those that may have difficulty buying coverage from a commercial carrier.
What Affects the Cost of the Policy?
A company’s payroll is one of the factors used to calculate an employer’s premium. The higher your payroll, the higher your premium will be.
The kind of work your employees do also affects your premium cost. Employers must report to a workers’ compensation insurer the job classification of each of their employees. Generally, premiums are more costly for employees with jobs that involve a greater amount of risk.
For example, the premium for a construction worker would usually be higher than the premium for an administrative assistant.