A self-employed contractor was injured in a South Carolina Lowe’s store when a stack of 12 wooden doors fell from a shelf above her. The woman was severely injured, and she was unable to return to work after two operations on her back.
While this may be an extreme example, back injuries are common in the workplace, even in jobs you might not expect. Employees with dangerous occupations can get seriously injured, and even office workers can be victims of slips, trips, falls, and repetitive motion injuries to name a few.
So, no matter what type of work your employees perform, it is the employer’s responsibility to help pay for medical expenses if they are injured on the job. Workers’ compensation insurance is required for most employers in South Carolina. This makes sure that injured workers get medical care and income protection while they are unable to work. In addition, it prevents you from being sued for damages by your employees.
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What Is Workers' Compensation Insurance?
Workers' compensation insurance, also known as workman's compensation, provides benefits to employees who get injured or sick from a work-related accident. It also includes disability benefits, missed wages, and death benefits.
The Workers' Compensation Act in South Carolina stipulates that if an employee is injured by accident while employed, that individual is entitled to recover medical expenses, missed wages, and disability benefits if they suffered a temporary or permanent injury as a result of a work-related source.
A workers’ compensation insurance company may deny coverage for certain claims, such as willfully self-inflicted injuries, injuries from being under the influence of drugs or alcohol, injuries occurring during voluntary events outside of work, and injuries occurring while in the act of committing a felony.
What Are the Basics of the Workers’ Compensation Law in Columbia, SC?
In South Carolina, the Workers' Compensation Act states that if an employee is injured or becomes ill while on the job, they are entitled to certain benefits.
Is workers’ compensation insurance required in Columbia, SC?
In South Carolina, if you employ at least four employees, you are required to have workers' compensation insurance. If an employee becomes hurt or ill on the job and the employer did not have the required workers’ compensation insurance in South Carolina, the state could take the business’s properties to cover the cost of a claim.
Although South Carolina requires employers with at least four employees to have workers' compensation insurance, there are few exceptions, including the following:
- Railroad or railway express company employees
- Agricultural employees
- Licensed real estate agents working for a broker
- Employers with less than $3,000 in annual payroll for the previous year
- Casual employees who do not work regular hours
- Federal employees of the state
- People selling agricultural products
What Does Workers’ Compensation Cover in Columbia, SC?
Missed wages: If an employee gets injured or ill on the job, workers’ compensation can help replace their lost income if they must take time off from work.
Disability benefits: Workers’ compensation insurance provides coverage to employees for medical costs associated with work-related injuries or illnesses, including emergency room visits, treatments, surgeries, and prescriptions.
Under the current South Carolina law, the employer can select the doctor that treats the employee. However, the employee does have the right to select a physician to evaluate them for the specific disability, but it will not be covered by the employer. If the employee goes to their own doctor without permission from the employer, the employer may not be held liable for medical expenses.
Ongoing care: Sometimes work-related injuries or illnesses can be serious enough to require multiple doctor visits. Workers’ compensation insurance can help cover their ongoing care costs, such as physical therapy.
Funeral costs: If an employee dies while on the job, workers’ compensation coverage can help pay their funeral costs and provide death benefits to the employee’s beneficiaries.
Let’s say one of your equipment operators loses the use of one of their legs and is partially disabled because of a work-related accident. They are unable to return to work and need continued medical and financial support. Workers’ compensation insurance can help cover the treatment costs and replace some of their missed wages through disability benefits.
Who Does Workers’ Compensation Cover in Columbia, SC?
There are several considerations that determine which employees need workers’ compensation insurance. For instance, specific jobs and the size of a business play a big role. Although requirements vary from state to state, most require workers’ compensation coverage for full-time employees. Some states do not require workers’ compensation coverage such as the following jobs:
- Casual workers
- Family members under a certain age
- Federal government employees
- Business owners and partners
- Insurance agents
- Real estate agents
These exceptions do not apply to every state, so be sure to understand your state’s workers’ compensation laws.
How Much Does South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Cost?
A workers’ compensation insurance quote will be based on four main elements: classification code (industry), claims history, location, and payroll.
- Classification code: Your business is calculated based on the jobs performed and potential risk for physical illness or injury.
- Claims history: Your claims history is used to assess how safe your work environment is and how likely you are to have claims in the future. Any claim, no matter the size, will affect your premium. Equally, a lack of past claims indicates a safe work environment and may lower your premium.
- Location: Workers’ compensation is controlled at the state level, which means rules and rates will vary from one state to another.
- Payroll: Although the state requirements for coverage depends on the number of employees you have, premiums are based on total payroll, including full-time, part-time, and temporary or seasonal workers.
South Carolina Workers’ Compensation 2020 Base Rate Examples
Most of the time, workers’ compensation benefits are calculated and paid based on an employee’s average weekly wages. This is calculated by multiplying the employee's daily wage by the number of days worked in one full year. That number is then divided by 52 weeks to get the average weekly wage.
Next, you add together the benefit and incentive costs, hiring, salary, and payroll taxes to ascertain the total compensation costs. If you want to find the monthly compensation cost, calculate the quarterly or annual costs, and divide by 3 or 12, respectively.
Listed below are some sample base rates (rate per $100 of employer payroll) as of 4-1-2020. These rates are published annually by the South Carolina Department of Insurance and are subject to change every year.
- O170 Farm animal raising and drivers: $2.50
- 0401 Cotton gin operation and local managers and drivers: $8.44
- 2105 Fruit packing: $3.02
- 8017 Retail Store: $1.20
- 8810 Clerical: $0.14
- 2702 Logging or lumbering and drivers: $10.61
- 2710 Sawmill: $11.62
Obviously, it costs considerably more to insure workers in the logging industry, where serious injuries are more likely than it does to insure retail store workers.
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The Workers’ Compensation Statute of Limitations In South Carolina
In South Carolina, it is the employee’s responsibility to inform the employer of a work-related injury or illness as soon as possible, but it must be within 90 days of the injury or illness. The injured or ill employee must file a claim within two years with the Workers’ Compensation Commission (WCC).
Additionally, if the employee neglects to inform either the employer or the WCC on time, they forfeit their right to make a claim. Moreover, it is the employer’s responsibility to buy the right workers’ compensation coverage through a licensed insurance company.
What Is an Experience Rating and How Does It Affect My Costs?
In South Carolina, some bigger companies are given an experience modification factor or experience mod. This factor can affect your South Carolina workers' compensation premium.
Your experience mod provides an indication of how your safety record and workers’ compensation claims will compare to other businesses of your size and in your industry. Companies with a higher experience mod will pay a higher premium rate.
Experience Rating Eligibility (EMR): South Carolina employers receive an experience modification rate or EMR once they meet one of these triggers:
- $9,000 in policy premium is generated during the last year or last two years
- $4,500 is the average policy premium generated for more than two years
If your workers' compensation policy is experience-rated, your payments are determined with the following formula:
- Base Rate X Payroll X Mod = Premium
Your modification rating represents a debit or credit that will be applied to your workers’ compensation base premium accordingly.
- A mod of 1.0: This is an average rating and is where all businesses start when they are experience-rated. A mod of 1.0 will not affect your premium rates.
- A mod greater than 1.0: This is also referred to as a debit mod. It signifies that your company’s injury occurrence and severity rate is worse than expected for a company of your size in your industry. Your payments will increase according to your experience mod.
- A mod less than 1.0: This is also referred to as a credit mod. It signifies that your company’s injury frequency and severity rate is better than expected for a company of your size in your industry. Your premiums will be discounted according to your experience mod.
Accidents at your business property can influence your experience modification rating for three years. Consequently, going years without any workers’ compensation claims will make your modification factor drop.
If you would like to keep your South Carolina’s workers’ compensation expenses low, the best way to do so is by maintaining a low rate of employee injury. This can be done by creating safe practice procedures and by keeping your employees educated about how they can avoid injuries while working.
How Can an Independent Agent Help Your Columbia, SC, Business?
You can protect your company from the risk of hefty liability judgments by investing in a qualified South Carolina workers’ compensation insurance policy. Having this coverage may even make your business more enticing to capable employees.
You can learn more about your options and easily review rates by working with a local TrustedChoice.com independent insurance agent. These independent agents are available to answer your insurance-related questions and help you find the best companies to meet your coverage needs. Find an agent near Columbia, SC, to get more information.
TrustedChoice.com Article | Reviewed by Jeffrey Green
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