Firm-Wide blog

Employers Workers’ Comp Options for their Employees

By Burg Simpson
March 20, 2018
5 min read

Any company doing business in Colorado – whether it’s a public or private entity – is required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. This insurance helps protect both the employer and the employee in the case of an accident on the job.

Anyone hired to perform services for pay is considered an employee by state law. But there are exceptions to this in some cases, such as:

  • Sole Proprietors, Business Partners: Since Colorado law doesn’t classify business owners and/or partners as employees, the state doesn’t require coverage.
  • Independent Contractors: These workers aren’t considered employees or employers, even though they do perform a service in exchange for pay. As such, they’re not covered by workers’ comp insurance. The definition of who is an independent contractor and who is an employee has been the subject of some recent litigation by attorneys at Burg Simpson. It is clear that an individual is not an independent contractor just because the company that hires him or her calls then than and then starts paying them without deductions for social security, unemployment or taxes. If an individual is injured and later found to be an employee the company can be hit with penalties from their insurance carrier for not correctly reporting them and paying for that coverage.
  • Corporate Officers: Generally speaking, corporate officers with a 10 percent or more ownership stake may exempt themselves from coverage.

It’s important for employees and independent contractors to know if they’re covered in case they get hurt on the job. Even if your employer doesn’t have coverage, you may still have opportunities for securing compensation. So if you’re an employee or an independent contractor who’s been seriously hurt on the job, get in touch with our workers’ compensation attorneys to discuss your possible options.

Your Employers Coverage Options

Colorado employers are responsible for obtaining workers’ compensation coverage and paying for all premiums for their employees. State law prevents employers from passing off any premium costs to you, the employee. Colorado is a private market state, which simply means your employer can and should buy workers’ compensation insurance from any carrier licensed to sell it.

Employers purchase insurance coverage through a commercial insurance carrier or, if they qualify, they can opt to fund a self-insurance program. Either way, your employer is required to have worker’s comp coverage in case anyone gets hurt on the job and it’s important they take care of their employees. Options for workers’ comp coverage include:

  • Pinnacol Assurance – While Pinnacol is technically a commercial insurance company, it’s also a Colorado state-charted carrier, making it the single largest commercial insurance – and workers’ comp – carrier in the state, writing more than 58 percent of the premiums for workers compensation. They are considered the carrier of last resort so they will cover the vast majority of small employers in Colorado.
  • Other commercial insurance companies – Several other carriers, such as Travelers, The Hartford, and Liberty Mutual, for example, also operate in Colorado.
  • Individual self-funded plans – Like most states, Colorado also allows companies to basically pay for each workers’ comp claim out of pocket as they happen, rather than paying premiums to a carrier. These self-insured plans, as they’re also called, can be less predictable to plan for but they can also offer companies greater control over claims. However, companies must be certified by the state to self-fund their workers’ compensation costs. To be certified, companies need to meet certain solvency standards and provide the applicable actuarial reports.
  • Group/pool self-funded plans – Self-insured groups are self-funded plans on a much larger scale. These are made up of groups of employers who get together for the specific purpose of paying for workers’ compensation claims. This allows smaller companies to self-insure when they might not have the financial resources to do so otherwise.

Other Employer Requirements

In addition to securing adequate workers’ compensation insurance, Colorado law requires employers to also:

  • Display a Notice to Employer of Injury poster on the premises at all times.
  • Keep a record of all lost-time injuries and occupational illnesses.
  • Report lost time injuries by filing the Employer’s First Report of Injury with the insurer within 10 days.
  • File a Supplemental Report of Accident form with the relevant insurance carrier upon an employee’s return to work or termination from employment.
  • If there is an injury to an employee they are required to provide the injured employee with the names or at least 4 doctors or clinics to provide care for the injury at the time of the injury or soon thereafter. There are some exceptions, particularly in rural areas, but generally there must be some choice offered.

If you’ve been injured at work, don’t attempt to handle your own claim. It’s especially important to get help if your employer isn’t abiding by these requirements. Contact the Colorado workers comp lawyers at Burg Simpson Colorado quickly by calling 303-792-5595 or fill out our Free Case Evaluation Form so we can take a look at your case and explain your options.

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