While Wyoming is the least populous state in the U.S., its population is growing and is engaged in all kinds of dangerous work. From coal mining to oil and gas drilling, ranching, and a booming construction industry, Wyoming provides a wealth of opportunities for workers to earn a living. Worker illnesses and injuries just come with the territory.
In May 2008, three workers at a Wyoming coal mine were injured when a crane collapsed. It appeared that the earth shifted under the crane, causing the collapse. This is just one example of the perils faced by workers in Wyoming, and why employers need workers' compensation insurance.
Workers’ compensation insurance makes it possible for workers to pay their medical bills and be compensated for lost wages if they are injured on the job. Most Wyoming employers must purchase workers’ compensation insurance to help employees with the costs associated with work-related injuries.
Wyoming Workers’ Compensation Laws
Wyoming’s first workers’ compensation laws were passed in 1915. Wyoming is one of four monopolistic workers’ compensation states in the U.S. This means that there is no competition among private insurance companies; all workers’ compensation insurance must be purchased from the Wyoming State Fund.
Wyoming workmans’ compensation laws eliminate the need for an employee who has been injured on the job to file a personal injury claim against their employer in order to be compensated for the costs associated with that injury (medical bills, lost income). Wyoming workers’ compensation insurance provides immediate benefits for injured workers regardless of who was at fault for their injury.
In Wyoming, workers’ compensation insurance is mandatory for all extra-hazardous occupations, and is optional for others. All employers and business owners in Wyoming must register with Employer Services to obtain their industry class codes and determine if they need to have coverage. The list for extra-hazardous occupations is extensive and complex.
The Basics of Wyoming Workers’ Compensation
Who Is Covered?
Employers are required to purchase workers’ compensation insurance in Wyoming regardless of the number of employees they have. There are, however, numerous exemptions from the Wyoming workmans’ compensation requirement, depending on the state’s definition of “employee” for purposes of workers’ compensation coverage.
Under the Wyoming workers’ compensation statutes, an employee is defined as any person engaged in any hazardous employment under any appointment, contract of hire, apprenticeship, or agreement. The state also provides an extensive list of workers who are not considered to be employees and are exempt from workers’ compensation coverage. These include:
- Sole proprietors or partners
- Members of an LLC (unless coverage is specifically elected)
- Casual laborers
- Independent contractors
- Volunteers (unless specifically covered in the statute)
- Spouse or dependent of an employer living in the employer’s household
- Professional athletes (unless specifically covered in the statute)
- Domestic workers
- Private duty nurses working for a private party
- Federal employees
- Adult or juvenile prisoners or probationers (unless specifically covered in the statute)
- Foster parents
- Elected public officials or appointed members of any governmental board or commission, except for an elected or appointed sheriff or county coroner
- Day care workers or babysitters whose wages are subsidized or paid in whole or in part by the Wyoming Department of Family Services
What Is Covered?
Wyoming workmans’ compensation covers the majority of occupational illnesses and injuries. Benefits include:
- Medical benefits, including hospital services, doctor visits, nursing services, medical supplies, prescription medications, and lab services
- Temporary partial and total disability benefits
- Permanent partial and total disability benefits
- Vocational rehabilitation
- Death benefits for the surviving spouse and/or children
Where Can You Buy It?
Wyoming operates an exclusive state fund from which workers’ compensation must be purchased. Insurance companies may not sell workers’ compensation insurance in Wyoming, and employers may not self-insure.
All employers must buy Wyoming workmans’ compensation insurance through Employer Services at the Department of Workforce Services.
How Much Does Wyoming Workers’ Compensation Insurance Cost?
Wyoming is a monopolistic workers’ compensation state. This means that all rates are set by the state, and private insurance companies may not sell workers’ compensation in Wyoming.
Workers’ compensation insurance is relatively expensive in Wyoming due to the lack of competition. Employers are assigned a classification code by the state, and coverage is required or optional depending on the class code. Employers must check with the state to determine what is required after their class code has been assigned.
Each class code is assigned a base rate, which is used to determine the overall workers’ compensation premium for the employer. For example:
- Drilling Oil and Gas Wells: Required
- Motor Vehicle Towing: Optional
- Food and Beverage Stores: Check With Department
To determine an employer’s workmans’ compensation premium, the annual payroll at the beginning of the policy period is divided by 100, and then multiplied by the base rate for its class code. For example:
- Drilling Oil and Gas Wells
- Base Rate: $3.53
- Employer payroll: $100,000
- Premium calculation: $3.53 per $100 of employer payroll (or 3.53% of payroll)
- Estimated annual premium: $3,530.00
How to Find Wyoming Workers’ Compensation Insurance
All employers and business owners in Wyoming must register with the Wyoming Division of Employer Services to receive their workers’ compensation class codes. Wyoming workers’ compensation insurance may only be purchased from the Wyoming State Fund, which is maintained by the Wyoming Workers’ Safety and Compensation Division.