In August 2016, a motorist on Interstate 95 in Providence got a flat tire and contacted the American Automobile Association for assistance. The 47-year-old tow truck driver who responded to the call then proceeded to change the tire for the stranded driver. As he was working, a box truck traveling along the interstate struck the parked tow truck, then continued forward and hit the worker, who suffered two cracked ribs, a lacerated kidney, and cracked vertebrae.
In a case like this, the injured worker would receive workers’ compensation benefits to cover his medical treatment and lost wages. The injured worker would also have the option to sue the driver for pain and suffering and other miscellaneous losses not covered by workers’ compensation.
This is just one example of a time that a Rhode Island workers’ compensation policy was able to protect the interests of workers and employers in this state.
Rhode Island workers' compensation laws require all employers in this state with one or more employees to carry workmans' comp coverage with a few exceptions. Employers are not required to cover the following workers:
Rhode Island workmans' comp insurance is beneficial to both your business and your employees. Your employees do not need to worry that an on-the-job injury or occupational illness will result in unmanageable medical bills or lost income; and you, as a business owner, do not have to worry about facing expensive liability lawsuits related to these types of injuries. Workers’ compensation insurance enables your employees to quickly and easily obtain the coverage and compensation owed to them. When they accept this coverage, they forfeit their right to sue your business for negligence in the matter at a later date.
What Is Covered?
Rhode Island workman’s comp policies are designed to cover the costs related to occupational injuries and illnesses your employees may suffer, regardless of fault. These expenses can include immediate and future medical treatment costs, lost wages while the employee takes time off to recuperate, long-term disability, and even death benefits for family members in the event that an injury is fatal. In the accident on Interstate 95, the tow truck driver was fortunate that his truck absorbed most of the impact; otherwise, this might have been a fatal accident. Had that happened, his family would have been entitled to a death benefit payout to cover several years of lost income potential.
Covered injuries and illnesses can included those that are caused immediately by an accident, such as the one that injured the tow truck driver, as well as those that result from long-term exposure to a hazard, such as repetitive stress injuries or illnesses caused by frequently breathing in toxic substances.
There are instances in which an employee’s claim may be legally denied. These should be defined in the terms of each individual policy. The exceptions may vary slightly between insurers, but they typically include cases in which the injured employee:
If an employee feels that their claim was wrongfully denied, they may appeal the decision by filing a petition with the Appellate Division of the Rhode Island Workers’ Compensation Court.
Where Can You Buy Rhode Island Workman’s Comp Coverage?
Rhode Island is an NCCI state. That means that the state’s insurance departments have designated the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) as their licensed rating and statistical organization. Employers can purchase Rhode Island workmans' comp insurance in one of two ways:
Trusted Choice® insurance agents can help you find a Rhode Island workers’ compensation company that is suitable to meet the needs of businesses in your industry. Because they are just as interested in maintaining worker safety as you are, good companies will often provide you with information about safety standards and protocols that can keep your employees safe and ensure that you meet all OSHA requirements.
Insurance companies will calculate the cost of your Rhode Island workers' comp policy using a state-wide standard calculation that is regulated by the Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation. Your premiums will be based on the industry in which your company operates, your company’s total annual payroll amount, and your assessed risk factor for worker safety (expressed as an experience modification factor.)
Independent insurance professionals can help you understand Rhode Island workers’ compensation laws, as well as ways that your company may qualify for policy discounts so that you can find an appropriate policy and avoid overpaying for your coverage.
Rhode Island bases its workers' compensation rates on NCCI guidelines, and assigns base premium rates for each industry classification.
Below are some sample base rates (rate per $100 of employer payroll) as of August 1, 2016. These rates are updated annually by the Rhode Island Division of Workers’ Compensation and are overseen by the state’s Department of Business Regulation. These rates can go up or down annually, depending on worker injuries in each industry within the state. Published rates include minimum and maximum base rates for coverage for all job classifications. The following are minimum base rates for a selection of jobs:
If you employee an office full of clerical workers and your total annual payroll amount is $500,000, you could expect a minimum base rate of $850 per year for your workers’ compensation premium.
In this state, companies that meet certain qualifications, based on how much they spend on workers’ compensation premiums, are assigned an experience modification factor, or experience mod. If your company is rated, your mod factor can affect your Rhode Island workers' compensation insurance rates.
An experience modification factor provides insurance companies with an indication of how your company’s claims history compared to other businesses of your size in your industry. When you report worker injuries, as required by law, your rating will increase. Severe injuries will result in higher increases, as will frequent injuries or work-related illnesses. These can affect your rating for three years. Each year that you go without any worker injuries, your mod will decrease. When it goes below 1.0, your company can qualify for policy decreases.
Experience mod eligibility rating requirements vary by state. In Rhode Island, businesses qualify to be experience rated if one of two things is true:
If your business is experience-rated, your Rhode Island workmans' comp premiums will be calculated using the following formula:
Your mod rating represents a debit or credit. The amount of the debit or credit will be applied to your workers’ compensation base premium as follows. If your experience mod is:
Here are some examples of how your experience rating can affect your Rhode Island workers’ compensation premiums:
The best way to rein in your workers’ compensation rates is by establishing and maintaining a low experience modification factor. You can do this by taking suitable measures to safeguard your employees against potential injuries and illnesses. Workers’ comp insurance companies will often assist in this endeavor by providing you with resources and guidelines related to workplace safety and OSHA requirements.
There are a number of different ways that workers can be injured on the job, and employers should be prepared for the possibility of any type of occupational illness or injury. Whether your employees are hurt in an accident, due to long-term exposure to hazardous materials, or even in the course of a robbery, you are responsible for providing suitable coverage. A workers' compensation insurance policy that is designed specifically to protect businesses in your industry offers you the best line of defense against these risks.
A local Trusted Choice agent who is familiar with the various aspects of commercial insurance coverage will be able to ensure that your company meets the requirements mandated by Rhode Island workers' compensation laws. These agents can help you review policies and quotes from reputable insurance companies so that you can rest assured that you will have the right coverage if the need arises. Find an agent near you to learn more and review quotes.