Washington Workers’ Compensation

washington worker's compensation text overlaying image of washington state university If you run a business and have employees, you’ll need to purchase Washington workers’ compensation insurance. In fact, this type of insurance is a requirement in most states, including Washington, with some exceptions. It helps pay your employees’ medical bills if they sustain an injury on the job. And limits your liability for workplace accidents, is a requirement in most states, including Washington, with some exceptions.

In Washington, business owners can expect to pay, on average, $1.57 for every $100 of covered payroll. That means, for example, a business with a total annual payroll of $100,000 will pay approximately $1,570 per year for workers’ compensation insurance, or around $130 a month. This is only a rough estimate, since factors such as your location, the different rates for staffing types (laborers vs office workers), and your claims history can all have a significant impact on your rates.

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One of the biggest factors in determining your rates for workers’ compensation insurance is your employees’ risk, or the likelihood of a workplace injury occurring at your business. To assist insurers in determining risk exposure, and to get the best rates for your business, you can use a variety of workers’ compensation class codes. This is important because it costs more to insure certain employees. For example, office employees may have lower workers’ compensation costs than those who work outside of your office and face more risks.


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What’s Covered

If one of your employees is injured at work or becomes ill because of workplace conditions. Workers’ compensation in Washington can help pay for their medical bills. The weekly average wage of an employee is used to calculate workers’ compensation benefits. The type of claim determines the exact amount.

The most important thing that workers’ compensation does is offer coverage for your injured employee’s medical treatment. This would include doctor’s appointments, hospital stays, and surgical procedures. Following a return to work, an employee may need ongoing care. Such as follow-up appointments or extra surgeries; workers’ compensation will also cover these medical bills.

Additionally, if the incident causes permanent or temporary disability, the employee will receive compensation in the form of weekly or lump sum payments. If your employee suffers a temporary disability, their injury is preventing them from performing their regular job while they recover. They have a permanent disability if a doctor determines that they will not fully recover from their injury. 

These two classifications fall into two subcategories:

  1. Temporary total disability (TTD) – These payments will be made if your employee is unable to work at all during their recovery.
  2. Temporary partial disability (TPD) – TPD payments will be made if your employee is still able to work, but with certain restrictions, such as requiring lighter duties or fewer hours. Even if your company does not provide work that meets these requirements, the employee may still be eligible for these payments.
  3. Permanent total disability (PTD) – If the accident or illness leaves your employee unable to work at all, even after recovery, they will be eligible for PTD payments.
  4. Permanent partial disability (PPD) – If an employee has permanent impairments but is able to work with those impairments, they will be eligible for PPD.


Washington’s Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits

If an employee dies as a result of a work-related injury or illness in Washington, an eligible survivor can receive a one-time death benefit payment, as well as a monthly survivor’s pension. The deceased worker’s spouse will automatically be eligible for death benefits. If the employee’s children are legally dependent, they will also be eligible.

Funeral expenses are also covered under Washington’s workers’ compensation system, up to twice the state’s average monthly wage.


Washington’s Workers’ Compensation Laws

In Washington, any business with one or more employees must carry workers’ compensation insurance. So if you have any employees, including independent contractors and part-time workers, you will most likely be required to purchase coverage.

There are some workers who are exempt from the state’s workers’ compensation requirements, though, including:

  • Domestic workers, when there is only one employed, and they do not work more than 40 hours per week
  • Gardening, maintenance, and repair workers in private homes
  • Musicians and entertainers at specific events
  • Children under the age of 18 who are employed by a parent for farm work
  • Cosmetologists and barbers who rent or lease their space


How to Buy Workers’ Compensation Insurance

Because Washington is what is known as a monopolistic state, workers’ compensation coverage must be obtained through the Washington state fund. Workers’ compensation is administered by the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I). 

To purchase workers’ compensation insurance through the fund, your business must have a business license and an account with L&I. L&I will classify your employees using its own system, which will determine your coverage rates.

You may be able to self-insure if your business has at least $25 million in assets and an accident-prevention program. Every other business with employees is required to purchase workers’ compensation from the state fund.

Other insurance policies, such as general liability insurance, professional liability insurance (also known as errors and omissions insurance, or E&O), commercial auto insurance, and cyber liability insurance, are still available to small businesses through private insurers.

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How to Get the Most Savings

The majority of the cost of workers’ compensation comes from factors beyond your control. However, there are still ways to save. Implementing a safety program is a great way to reduce workplace injuries and claims, which will lower your premiums. So regardless of your industry, it is important to have safety and standard operating procedures in place. Employees who have safety training are less vulnerable to injuries, lowering your workers’ compensation costs.

It is also a good idea to regularly review your claims history. Evaluating your claims history on a regular basis can help you identify and correct patterns. You might discover that certain aspects of your business operations are frequently causing claims. This allows you to adjust the operation to make it safer. You can save money by keeping an eye on potentially dangerous operations.

Correctly classifying your employees is one of the most effective ways to save money. When you apply for your workers’ compensation policy, you will classify each of your employees depending on their job’s risk. And this risk classification influences the cost of your workers’ compensation. For example, you might pay less to insure an office worker than you would a manual laborer. It’s also important to correctly classify your employees because you may receive a fine if you fail to do so.

Begin a free online application today to compare workers’ compensation insurance quotes for your small business from leading U.S. insurers. EZ’s agents specialize in insurance for a wide range of small businesses. Working with our agents can save you hundreds of dollars a year on coverage.


Washington Workers’ Compensation FAQs

  • Are you required to have workers’ compensation insurance in Washington?

Yes, nearly all Washington employers must carry workers’ compensation insurance. The penalties for noncompliance with Washington’s workers’ compensation laws were recently increased, and include the following:

    • Failure to pay a workers’ compensation claim: $1,000 maximum fine, or double the premiums paid
    • Noncompliance with record-keeping requirements: $500
    • Noncompliance with a statutory provision: $1,000
  • How do workers’ compensation settlements work in Washington?

Workers’ compensation settlements are agreements to resolve a claim reached by you, your injured worker, and your insurer. In Washington, the majority of workers’ compensation claims result in a structured settlement, which means the injured worker receives periodic payments in installments over a certain amount of time.

Accepting a structured settlement precludes the worker from claiming future benefits for wage loss and permanent disability, but it does not preclude claims for future medical treatment. The claim may be reopened if a new injury or illness related to the original claim is diagnosed or discovered later.

  • What is the statute of limitations in Washington?

The workers’ compensation statute of limitations in Washington state is one year from the date of injury. The statute of limitations for an occupational illness is two years from the date it was discovered.

Why Use EZ

We do everything in our power to make shopping for workers’ compensation insurance as easy and stress-free as possible. And we give each of our customers our undivided attention. As soon as you fill out our form, you will receive instant, free quotes from your dedicated agent. Who will give you personalized service and will work to understand your needs. We want to ensure that you get the best coverage at the best price. Our services are completely free so check out your quotes today!

If you still have questions, feel free to give us a call at 877-670-3538. You will speak to a local insurance agent who can answer all of your questions. And help you find the workers’ compensation policy that works best for your business.

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About The Author:
Cassandra Love

With over a decade of helpful content experience Cassandra has dedicated her career to making sure people have access to relevant, easy to understand, and valuable information. After realizing a huge knowledge gap Cassandra spent years researching and working with health insurance companies to create accessible guides and articles to walk anyone through every aspect of the insurance process.

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