What Is An Assigned Risk Pool?

What Is An Assigned Risk Plan? text overlaying image of a bunch of hands holding pieces of a puzzle An assigned risk plan is a workers compensation plan set up by the state for businesses that cannot get a workers compensation plan from a ‘regular’ insurer. Plans with an assigned risk are also known as the leftover market or the assigned risk pool. This safety net is the last option for employers who don’t have any other way to get coverage. All states except those that have a monopoly have made a plan. How the plan is run and paid for depends on the laws in each state.


Reasons You Could Be In The Assigned Risk Pool

When insurance companies don’t want to write a workers’ comp contract for a specific business (for reasons we’ll list below), that business goes into the workers’ comp pool to be assigned to an insurance company. These less desirable businesses will be spread out fairly among the workers’ compensation carriers. You may be in the workers’ comp pool for the following reasons:


  • Poor claims history – If a business has too many claims for injuries, insurers might think that its owners don’t care about safety.
  • New company – An insurer can’t tell much about a new company because it doesn’t have a track record. This makes it difficult to judge the risk the company would take by insuring you.
  • High-risk industry – Many insurance companies don’t want to cover employers in dangerous jobs like logging, trucking, and roofs with workers’ compensation insurance.

Insurance companies think that businesses with these traits are more likely to have a claim, so they may not want to offer a workers’ comp insurance. But because most states require workers’ comp insurance, the pools are set up to choose a company for you.

Assigned Risk Plan Administration

All states have a person in charge of running the plan and making sure policies are given out. In most states, the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI), the state competitive insurance fund, the state rating group, or a third party is in charge of managing workers’ compensation insurance. The NCCI is in charge of running assigned risk plans for 22 states. Each of these 22 states requires all workers’ compensation insurers that do business within its borders to take part in the assigned risk plan. Insurance companies can either be:


  • Direct assignment – This means the NCCI assigns workers’ compensation policies from the companies that have to purchase a policy through the assigned risk pool. The business applies then the NCCI hands their application to one of the direct assignment companies.
  • Reinsurance – The insurers in this group basically insure the direct assignment companies. So if a direct assignment insurer has a claim or policies that they cannot pay for themselves the reinsurance company financially protects them so they can pay the claim without being bankrupt.

In some states, the state competition fund is in charge of running the assigned risk plan. This means they give businesses the option to either buy from the state fund or buy from private insurers. So, the state fund competes with the private insurance companies for business. These states are:


Most of the other states have either chosen their rating group or an insurance company to run their plans.

Cost Of Assigned Risk Plans

The assigned risk pool is supposed to be a last-resort market for high-risk businesses. Because of this, the rates are supposed to reflect the risk that the insurance companies are taking by covering this group of high-risk plans. Rates vary from state to state, but in general, it’s safe to think that the rates in the pool are the highest available for most workers’ compensation class codes. In fact, many companies in the standard voluntary market base their rates on the rates of the given risk pool.

Getting Coverage

If you or your insurance agent can’t find workers’ compensation coverage for your business in the standard market, you or your agent can send an application to your state’s assigned risk plan provider. How to apply changes from state to state. If your state’s plan is run by the NCCI, you can apply online 24 hours a day or send your application through the U.S. Postal Service to the NCCI. To get coverage from an assigned risk pool, you must have tried to get coverage from an insurer, but have been turned down. Each state has its own rules about how many rejects are needed. For example, West Virginia companies can only apply for coverage in the assigned risk plan if they can show that two insurers have turned them down.

Getting Out Of The Assigned Risk Pool

If you’re in the pool, there are no extra fees or charges. The only problem is that you don’t get to choose your insurance company, and you usually don’t have much choice about how to pay. Your payments can also be up to 400% higher than those of businesses that aren’t in the risk pool. If that bothers you, you may want to get out of the workers’ comp pool as soon as possible. This is how:

Improve Your Claims History

If you are in the workers’ compensation pool because you have made too many claims in the past, the only way out is to make fewer claims in the future. And a detailed safety plan is the best way to cut down on claims. This should include figuring out what the risks are and how to deal with them, as well as giving all workers ongoing safety training. You could also set up a safety committee or use tools for safety or incident management.


Even if you do all of the above, you can’t stop all accidents from happening, so it’s also important to know how to handle them when they do. This is because, in addition to how often you file a claim, the length of a claim can also make your workers’ compensation costs go up. Insurance companies want as few open claims as possible, so claims that take a long time to settle will make your workers’ comp cost go up. 


Because of this, you should have a plan to help wounded workers get back to work as soon as possible. This could include a strategy called “light duty,” which lets employees go back to work without having to do any tasks that will make their injury worse.


Have Patience

If your business is new and you are in the workers’ compensation pool, you have no choice but to wait it out. If you don’t have any claims and don’t work in a high-risk business, you should be able to get out of the workers’ comp pool in a few years. So patience is key here. Bide your time in the risk pool and put safety procedures in place to keep your claims low and claims length short that way when it’s time to move out of the pool you can do so easily.

Work With An Independent Agent

If your business is in a high-risk field, you may not be able to do anything. Because of your risk, insurers might not be ready to give you a policy. Each provider is different, though. Just because one insurance company won’t give you a policy doesn’t mean that no one else will. Even if one insurance company doesn’t take your business one year, that doesn’t mean they won’t the next. Carrier insurance rules change so often that the same rules may not apply from one year to the next. 


So you might be able to do a little research to see if there is a company that will take you on. Even better, you could work with an independent agent who can shop around to different companies to find one that might be willing to cover you.

How EZ Can Help

Workers’ compensation can be stressful. Hope is often at the end of the tunnel. There are usually ways to improve your workers’ compensation position. An independent insurance agent can help you choose a workers’ comp company. They can also assist you in managing your workers’ compensation policy in other ways that save time and money. EZ is the place to go if you need workers’ compensation insurance for your business. We are proud of the fact that we pay attention to each customer as a person and try to make sure you feel comfortable while you shop.


We offer personalized service and instant, free quotes from an agent picked based on your needs. If you’d like to get started with a quote you can enter your zip code in the box above. We want you to make the best decision possible and get the best deal for your money. Our services are always free, and there are no hassles or obligations to sign up. You can also call us at 877-670-3538 if you still have questions. You can talk to an insurance agent in your area, who will be able to answer all of your questions and help you find the best workers’ compensation policy for your business.


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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