In almost every U.S. state, employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance if they have a certain number of employees. If you’re a business owner in Delaware, you’ll need to purchase workers’ comp insurance if you have at least one employee that doesn’t meet the state’s exemptions criteria.

In this article, we’ll go over who you need to cover, who is exempt, and possible penalties for non-compliance.


How does workers’ compensation insurance in Delaware work?


If you operate a business in Delaware, you’re required to purchase workers’ compensation insurance as soon as you have one or more part-time or full-time employees. Most businesses purchase coverage through a private insurance company, but businesses who have trouble securing private coverage can get theirs through the Delaware Workers’ Compensation Insurance Plan. Some larger companies can qualify to become self-insurers.


Who needs workers’ compensation insurance in Delaware?


All employees, whether they’re part-time, full-time or seasonal, must be covered by a workers’ compensation policy. Like most states, however, there are exceptions when it comes to workers’ comp. As a business owner, you aren’t required to provide coverage for the following:

  • Farm laborers
  • Casual workers
  • Government employees
  • Real estate sales professionals
  • Some amateur sporting officials
  • Domestic workers earning less than $750 per quarter from a single household
  • Sole proprietors
  • Partners (in partnership companies)

Corporate officers are also considered employees under Delaware labor laws. However, up to eight corporate officers can opt out of workers’ compensation.

As a business owner or sole proprietor, you don’t have to purchase workers’ compensation insurance for yourself. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get coverage. Sustaining an injury or illness while performing your work can lead to sizable hospital bills, medical costs and a lengthy recovery period. Investing in workers’ comp for yourself could save you from a brutal financial setback.


What are the penalties for not having workers’ comp in Delaware?


As an employer, not having workers’ compensation insurance if you’re required to do so can result in fines and penalties. In Delaware, fines can add up to three times the amount you would have paid in insurance premiums. If an employee gets injured and you don’t have a policy, you could also be liable for all of that employee’s associated medical costs and lost wages.


What does workers’ comp cover?

Medical costs

If one of your employees is injured or becomes ill on the job, workers’ comp can cover their immediate medical expenses such as ambulance rides, emergency room visits, x-rays, surgery and prescription medications.

For example, if a kitchen employee reaches into a sink and slices their hand on a broken glass, they might require medical attention. Workers’ comp could cover the costs of their emergency room visit, stitches and pain management prescriptions.

Lost Wages

Many work-related incidents can leave employees unable to work for several weeks or months. Workers’ comp can provide some relief for employees in the form of partial wage replacement.

If an employee breaks their foot in a work-related accident, they could end up stuck at home for multiple months. While they’re out of work, workers’ comp would cover some of their lost wages.

Ongoing Care

Some work-related injuries require long-term care such as physical therapy or pain management. Often, these injuries are more the result of repetitive workplace stress rather than a single traumatic incident. Chronic back issues for construction workers and carpal tunnel syndrome for office employees are two common examples of the types of workers who must receive ongoing care due to repetitive stress. If their claim is approved, workers’ comp can cover the costs associated with their ongoing care.

Death Benefits

If the unthinkable happens and an employee passes away because of a workplace incident, workers’ comp can cover funeral costs and other death benefits for the deceased worker’s family or beneficiaries.