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 Oregon, you must carry workers’ comp insurance if you have at least one employee. Like most states, Oregon specifies a few employee types that are exempt from compulsory coverage.

Workers’ compensation is one of many small business insurance types all Oregon 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 Oregon work?


The state of Oregon requires you to carry workers’ compensation insurance as soon as you have one employee that is not exempt from mandatory coverage.

There are two ways to obtain insurance in Oregon: through the private market or through an assigned risk plan. There are over 400 private insurers in Oregon approved to sell workers’ compensation insurance. If you can’t find a suitable insurer (due to having a high-risk business or other factors), you can seek coverage through the assigned risk plan, the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI).


Who needs workers’ compensation insurance in Oregon?


Nearly every employee in Oregon must be covered by workers’ compensation insurance, with some exceptions. Individuals who are exempt from mandatory coverage include:

  • Sole proprietors
  • Partners
  • Domestic workers
  • Casual laborers (payroll of less than $500 for any 30-day period)
  • Some corporate officers
  • Some LLC members
  • Out-of-state workers

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 Oregon?


If you get caught without insurance in Oregon, you’ll get a fine of twice your premium (at a minimum of $1,000) for your first offense. If you continue to operate your business without insurance, you’ll get assessed a fine of $250 per day. Repeated offenses can lead to forced compliance and possible jail time.

Penalties aside, not having insurance means business owners are liable for workplace injuries and illnesses. If one of your employees gets hurt and you don’t have workers’ comp, you could end up paying for their medical bills and lost wages out of your own pocket.


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.