FAQ: Workers' Compensation Insurance in Washington, D.C.

Workers' compensation insurance (also referred to as workers' comp) is a commercial insurance policy that is designed to protect employers and employees alike.

This insurance can provide coverage for medical expenses, lost wages, and rehabilitation services if an employee is injured on the job or is diagnosed with an occupational illness. It can also shield employers from the threat of a liability lawsuit related to these workplace injuries and illnesses.

The good news for employers in the District of Columbia is that workers’ compensation insurance rates in this city are among the lowest in the country. Your costs will be based on the number of employees you have, how much they are paid, the types of jobs they do, and your company's history of accidents and workers’ compensation claims. 

In Washington, D.C., every type of job is assigned a base rate for coverage. These rates are set by the D.C. Department of Insurance with input from the NCCI. Workers' compensation insurance companies must use these base rates, but can raise or lower premiums up to 25% based on discounts, incentives, and claims histories.

Let's look at some workers' compensation insurance cost ranges for a few different kinds of jobs in Washington, D.C. These are rates for every $100 of employer payroll.

  • Landscapers:  $2.82 to $5.30
  • Plumbing contractors:  $2.11 to $3.97
  • Roofing contractors:  $8.01 to $15.07
  • Retail store workers:  $0.65 to $1.22
  • Clerical workers:  $0.06 to $0.11
  • Restaurant workers:  $0.71 to $1.34

As you can see, workers’ compensation rates are higher for jobs with an increased risk of injuries (like roofers) when compared to jobs with minimal risk (like office workers and retail store cashiers).

Companies with a good safety record will pay rates at the lower end of the price range, while companies with many serious worker injuries will pay rates at the higher end.

In Washington, D.C., all employers are legally required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Exceptions are made only for sole proprietors with no employees. 

Homeowners must cover all their domestic workers like nannies, gardeners, and housekeepers if any of these employees work at least 240 hours during any calendar quarter in the same or previous year.

Coverage can be purchased through any commercial provider authorized to write policies in the District of Columbia. With approval, established companies with a solid financial footing can self-insure.

Workers' compensation insurance can protect your business against financial losses and potential lawsuits by ensuring that workers who are injured on the job receive the medical benefits and compensation for lost wages they are entitled to. 

Workers' compensation insurance in Washington, D.C. provides injured employees with:

  • Medical benefits: Worker’s compensation insurance provides employees with cost-free necessary medical care. Coverage includes:
    • Medical, surgical, and hospital care
    • Osteopathic, dental, podiatric, and chiropractic care
    • Physical and occupational therapy
    • Prescription medications and medical supplies
    • Tests like bloodwork, X-rays, and MRIs
  • Loss of income benefits:  If an employee must take more than three days off work to recuperate from a work-related injury or illness, workers’ compensation can provide disability pay in the form of:
    • Temporary total disability (TDD)
    • Temporary partial disability (TPD)
    • Permanent total disability (PTD)
    • Permanent partial disability (PPD)
  • Disfigurement benefits: If an employee suffers severe disfigurement to the face, neck, or other commonly exposed areas of the body, they can be awarded a lump sum payment of up to $7,500 in addition to their loss of income benefits.
  • Death benefits: If a worker’s injuries prove fatal, workers’ compensation can cover up to $5,000 in funeral and burial expenses and provide the employee’s spouse and dependents with ongoing death benefits in the amount of 50% of the employee's average weekly wage before the injury.

Sometimes, workers’ compensation claims are denied. Some of the more common reasons for claim denials include:

  • The employee was injured outside of work, such as while on a lunch break or while driving to and from work.
  • The claim is for an illness or injury that was a preexisting condition.
  • The employee was injured while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • The employee was injured while engaged in horseplay or committing a serious crime.
  • The insurance company has reason to believe the injury was intentionally self-inflicted.

If any employee believes that their claim was unjustly denied, they can contact the D.C. Office of Workers’ Compensation to arrange mediation services. If unable to achieve their desired outcome, the employee may request a formal hearing with the Administrative Hearings Division.

A workers' compensation insurance certificate is a document that provides proof of insurance. Sometimes, clients may request to see this document before they will hire you to do a job. This is particularly true if you are bidding on a government contract.

The workers' compensation insurance certificate includes details like:

  • Name and address of the insured
  • Name of the insurance company and your policy number(s)
  • Effective date and expiration date of each policy listed

You may be issued a certificate by your insurer when you purchase or renew your workers’ compensation insurance policy. 

Alternatively, prospective clients can use a free online tool to verify workers’ compensation coverage, because all active policies are maintained in a database by the D.C. Department of Employment Services. Anyone can use this tool by doing a search on your business name or your FEIN. 

Independent insurance agents make finding the right workers’ compensation coverage easy. These agents can work with a variety of the area’s best insurance companies to find you an excellent policy at a competitive price. They can also help you with any other business insurance needs you may have.

No business is too small to benefit from working with an independent agent. Discover the many advantages of having an experienced insurance professional on your side. Arrange an obligation-free consultation with an independent insurance agent near you today.

Workers' compensation benefits are not considered taxable income.

National Average Cost of Workers' Compensation Insurance

Healthcare $1,825 Per $100,000 payroll

Retail Trade $2,850 Per $100,000 payroll

Construction $7,430 Per $100,000 payroll

Workers' Compensation Insurance Laws in Washington, D.C.

  • Virtually all employers in the District of Columbia are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance.
  • When employers are made aware of a work-related injury or occupational illness, they must file DCWC Form 8 (Employer’s First Report of Injury or Occupational Disease) within ten days of notification. Failure to file this form can result in up $1,000 in civil penalties.
  • When employers are notified of a work-related fatality, in-patient hospitalization, or loss of limb or eye, they must inform the Office of Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) within 8 hours for a fatality and 24 hours for the other serious injuries.
  • Employers are required to post a Workers’ Compensation Notice poster in a conspicuous area at their workplace. This poster notifies employees of their employer’s compliance with workers’ compensation laws in the district and explains their rights and responsibilities if they are injured on the job. Failure to display this poster can result in fines or sanctions.
  • Employers may not terminate, discriminate, or otherwise retaliate against workers who have filed workers’ compensation claims or who have testified/will be testifying on behalf of another worker. Violation of the law can result in penalties up to $1,000, and the harmed employee will be eligible to retain their job and collect back pay.
  • Failure to carry required workers' compensation insurance can result in fines up to $10,000. If an employee is injured while their employer is uninsured, the business and its corporate officers can be held liable for the associated costs.


Common Workers' Compensation Claims in Washington, D.C.

There are around 8,500 worker injuries reported in the District of Columbia every year.


Five most common worker injuries in Washington, D.C.

  1. Punctures, cuts, and lacerations
  2. Sprains and strains
  3. Contusions
  4. Burns (caused by fire, heat, chemicals, electricity, steam, sunlight, or radiation)
  5. Fractures


5 Industries with the Most Workers' Comp Claims in D.C.

  1. Health care and social assistance
  2. Accommodation and food services
  3. Trade, transportation, and utilities
  4. Educational services
  5. Retail trade