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

Workers’ compensation is one of many small business insurance types all Ohio entrepreneurs should consider.

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 Ohio work?


Ohio is one of few states that doesn’t allow businesses to purchase workers’ compensation insurance via the private market. Instead, every business in Ohio needs to purchase coverage via the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC).

Ohio also allows employers to become self-insured. Getting approved for self-insured status means proving your business has enough capital to cover the medical expenses and lost wages of any employees that may get injured or become ill on the job.

It’s especially important for employers in Ohio to have coverage because Ohio is a no-fault workers’ compensation state. Which means that regardless of how the injury was caused or who was at fault, the employee is covered.


Who needs workers’ compensation insurance in Ohio?


Every employee, whether they’re full-time, part-time, or seasonal, needs to be covered by workers’ comp in Ohio. Business owners in the following categories can choose to forgo coverage:

  • Sole proprietors
  • Partners in partnerships
  • Sole proprietors or partners in LLCs
  • Family farm corporate officers
  • Corporate officers in corporations with zero employees
  • Ordained or associate ministers of religious organizations
  • Spouses of owners, partners and corporate officers
  • Volunteers

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 Ohio?


Businesses that miss premium payments in Ohio are given “lapsed” status. During this time, if an employee is injured or becomes ill on the job, they are entitled to sue their employer for damages related to their injuries. Failure to pay a premium on time can also result in a $30 fine, plus 15% of the annual premium due, depending on how late the payment is.


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 might 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.