In one word—yes. If you own a business in Ohio and employ one or more people besides yourself, you are required by law to carry workers' comp insurance. It's no-fault coverage to pay the medical bills and lost wages of employees injured on the job. In exchange, under Ohio law, your employee cannot sue you if they are injured at work. It doesn't matter if you provide health insurance to your employees—you must also carry workers' comp.

How to Get Workers' Comp Insurance in Ohio

If you are starting a new business, expanding a solo operation, or buying an existing business, you must apply to the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation for insurance. You will pay a non-refundable application fee and wait for your application to be processed. Once it has been approved, you will be issued a certificate of coverage, which Business Owners Standing by Their Small Businessmust be posted in a visible area for employees to see. Also, explain how the coverage works to all employees and make incident report forms easily accessible to report any workplace accidents and injuries.

The cost of your insurance will depend in part on the business you are insuring. Construction companies pay higher rates than bookstores, for example. Your premium will also reflect the number of employees you have and your history of filing claims.

Are There Exceptions to This Rule?

If you are a sole proprietor or partnership with no employees, you do not have to carry worker's comp. Family farms that do not employ outside workers are also exempt. Ministers of religious organizations need not be covered, but paid employees of a church do. If you are a non-profit organization managing a volunteer workforce, you needn't provide them with workers' comp coverage, but you must cover your paid staff.

Large companies that employ over 500 people and meet several other criteria may obtain insurance outside the BWC system. This is known as being self-insured. Small businesses are not eligible to take this option.

Do Everyone a Favor, and Comply With the Law

As a workers' comp attorney, I represent clients injured at work and who are having trouble with their employer or the BWC getting the compensation they deserve. When an employer is breaking the law by trying to game the system, you always lose. When caught, the BWC will impose past past premiums and penalties; plus, you must pay dollar for dollar the costs of claims. If you own a small business, let this be a lesson to you. Understand Ohio workers' comp law and comply with it! Overall, it's cheap insurance!

James Monast
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Board-Certified Workers’ Compensation Attorney in Columbus, Ohio