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An important aspect of business ownership is understanding the different types of small business insurance and how they affect your risk and bottom line. Workers’ compensation insurance is one of those, and for most employers, it isn’t an option — it’s required. As a business owner in Wyoming, you might want to take some time to brush up on the state’s workers’ compensation requirements.
Wyoming’s unique laws make its workers’ compensation program different from those of most other states. In this article, we’ll cover Wyoming’s worker’s compensation laws and what kind of coverage your employees can get.
How does workers’ compensation insurance in Wyoming work?
In Wyoming, all employers are required to register their business with the Division of Workers’ Compensation and Unemployment Insurance. After you register your business, the Division of Workers’ Compensation will determine whether you need to provide mandatory or optional coverage to your workers.
In Wyoming, instead of shopping around different private carriers, you’ll get coverage from the Wyoming State Fund. Your premium cost will be determined by your business’s North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code and your experience rating.
Wyoming is also one of the few states that don’t allow employers to self-insure or join self-insurance groups. Going through the state fund is the only way to get coverage.
Who needs workers’ compensation insurance in Wyoming?
No matter what kind of business you run, you must register with the Division of Workers’ Compensation and Unemployment Insurance. This rule applies even if you’re a sole proprietor, independent contractor, partner or Limited Liability Company (LLC) member with zero employees.
Registering your business does not mean you’ll be required to purchase workers’ compensation insurance. Some individuals are exempt from mandatory coverage, including:
- Sole proprietors
- Independent contractors
- LLC members
The following individuals may qualify for a workers’ comp exemption:
- Agricultural workers
- Domestic workers
- Casual laborers
- Commission-based workers
- Real estate brokers
- Professional athletes
- Private nurses
What are the penalties for not having workers’ comp in Wyoming?
As an employer, you risk facing legal and civil penalties if you don’t comply with Wyoming’s workers’ compensation laws. Non-compliance can result in a misdemeanor charge with a fine of up to $1,000 and potentially up to 1 year of imprisonment.
On top of the potential fines and legal troubles, going without workers’ comp opens your business up to the risk of serious liability. If an employer gets hurt on the job and you don’t have coverage, you could end up having to pay for their medical costs, lost wages and legal fees. Going without insurance means you risk having to pay several times more than you would have paid in insurance premiums.
What does workers’ comp cover?
Medical cost coverage is one of the central aspects of any workers’ compensation policy. If one of your employees gets injured or becomes ill because of their work, they’ll likely face ambulatory, emergency room, and medication costs. Workers’ comp can cover those costs for your employees.
For example, one of your retail employees slips on a wet floor and breaks their wrist. They get transported to the emergency room where they get x-rays and a cast. The doctor prescribes them some mild pain medication. Workers’ comp can cover the cost of the ambulance, x-ray, casting procedure, and medication.
When an employee gets hurt on the job, they may end up missing significant time at work due to their injuries. Workers’ comp helps ease their financial burden by compensating them for a portion of their lost wages.
In Wyoming, lost wages are known as Temporary Total Disability (TTD) wages. TTD wages are equal to two-thirds of your employee’s gross monthly wage.
Some work-related injuries can lead to chronic conditions that require long-term medical care. Carpal tunnel syndrome, chronic joint or ligament pain, and hearing loss are all examples of work-related injuries that can result in ongoing medical costs.
In Wyoming, workers’ compensation covers any medical treatment that is directly related to workplace injury and is deemed a reasonable treatment option. That coverage extends to any long-term treatment methods your employee’s care provider recommends.
In addition to medical care and lost wages, workers’ compensation insurance can provide financial aid to families of employees who pass away from a work-related injury or illness. In Wyoming, surviving spouses and dependents can receive up to 80% of the average state wage in death benefits for up to 100 months. Families can also be compensated up to $5,000 for both funeral expenses and other death-related expenses.