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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. If you’re a business owner in Missouri, you must carry workers’ comp insurance if you have five or more employees. Like most states, Missouri specifies a few employee types that are exempt from compulsory coverage.
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 Missouri work?
In Missouri, you must purchase workers’ compensation insurance for your business if you have five or more employees. If you are in the construction industry, you must purchase coverage if you have just one employee. Note that partners and corporate officers apply toward the employee count.
You’ll most likely purchase insurance through a licensed insurance agent. If you have difficulty finding a private insurer who will work with you, you can look for coverage through the residual market or assigned risk pool. For a directory of licensed workers’ compensation insurers in Missouri, visit the Missouri Department of Insurance website.
Another option is to become a self-insurer, which can be done on the Department of Labor website.1 This option is typically restricted to large companies that meet strict financial requirements to demonstrate their ability to pay any and all injury claims their employees might make. For most employers, purchasing insurance will be more cost-effective than self-insuring.
Who needs workers’ compensation insurance in Missouri?
Nearly every employee in Missouri must be covered by workers’ compensation insurance, with some exceptions. Employees who are exempt from mandatory coverage include:
- Employees covered under federal law (railroad, postal and maritime workers)
- Farm laborers
- Domestic workers
- Some real estate agents
- Volunteers at tax-exempt organizations
- Direct sellers
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 Missouri?
In Missouri, not having workers’ compensation insurance can lead to fines, penalties and even jail time. Employers who knowingly forgo coverage can be subject to a fine of up to $50,000 or three times the annual premium, whichever sum is greater. Repeat violations are considered felony offenses.
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 might 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.