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In almost every U.S. state, employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance if they have a certain number of employees. In Florida, businesses have different employee requirements depending on which industry they’re in.
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 Florida work?
In the state of Florida, businesses are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance if they have four or more part-time or full-time employees on their payroll. The only exception to this rule is for construction businesses. If you’re in construction, you must secure coverage as soon as you have one employee. If you are an agricultural employer, you need to purchase workers’ comp as soon as you have 6 full-time or 12 seasonal employees.
In Florida, employers must purchase workers’ compensation insurance from a licensed private carrier, through the Florida Workers’ Compensation Joint Underwiting Association. The state of Florida’s Division of Workers’ Compensation contains many useful links to directories of licensed workers’ comp insurance carriers.
Another avenue for workers’ comp in Florida is through an employee leasing company, which manages workers’ comp for a client’s employees in exchange for a fee.1
Who needs workers’ compensation insurance in Florida?
Florida has specific requirements for different types of industries.
- Non-construction businesses: Employers must purchase coverage if they have four or more part-time or full-time employees.
- Construction businesses: Employers must purchase coverage if they have one or more part-time or full-time employees.
- Agricultural businesses: Employers must purchase coverage if they have six or more full-time employees or 12 or more seasonal workers who work more than 30 days in a season but less than 45 days per year.
- Independent contractors: Florida is one of the few states that require independent contractors or self-employed individuals to purchase coverage for themselves before they start on any project within the state of Florida.
As a business owner or sole proprietor, you may not 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 Florida?
As an employer, not having workers’ compensation insurance if you’re required to do so can result in fines and penalties. In Florida, fines can add up to double 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?
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.
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.
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.
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.