Knowing the laws and requirements surrounding workers' compensation is essential to running a smooth operation. Wyoming is another one of those states that has a state-funded workers' compensation program. Discovering how and when this mandatory state program pertains to you and your business is crucial.
An independent insurance agent can help sort through all the facts when it comes to your state-specific laws concerning workers' compensation insurance. They are knowledgeable in all things workers' compensation and can point you in the right direction.
What Is Workers' Compensation Insurance?
First things first, you need to know what workers' compensation insurance is before you can know the laws that govern it in Wyoming.
Workers' compensation insurance is an insurance policy taken out by an employer or independent contractor that will help pay for medical expenses for an injury or illness that occurred while working or as a result of an employee's job.
This policy will also pay for partial wages, usually up to two-thirds, for any employee, including owners or independent contractors, while they're recovering.
Almost every state mandates workers' comp coverage in some form or fashion, and an independent insurance agent is the perfect resource to have when it comes to knowing Wyoming's state-specific guidelines.
Wyoming's State Workers' Compensation Insurance Requirements
What Wyoming requires for workers' compensation coverage could mean the difference in some serious penalties and back-charged premiums from your state government.
Not to mention the legal consequences involved if you're found non-compliant. It could also mean a hefty lawsuit from one of your employees if you're caught skimping on the proper workers' compensation protection.
Having the right protection in place is an important part of your business operations, and not having a policy in place could leave you open to financial burdens that no company wants to bear, like:
- Employee medical expenses
- Employee lost wages
- Legal fees
In the state of Wyoming, workers' compensation insurance is mandatory if you have one employee and has to be obtained through the state program.
An independent insurance agent can get more in the weeds with you when it comes to your state's specifics concerning workers' compensation insurance and any other commercial insurance.
Keep in mind that your independent insurance agent will have the most current information as it pertains to your business and the state in which you reside.
Wyoming's Workers' Compensation Insurance Laws
Each state looks a little different when it comes to workers' compensation coverage, and when you are required to obtain it as a business owner.
In Wyoming, workers' compensation is non-negotiable and is a state requirement to obtain coverage through the Wyoming workers' compensation state program, or risk facing the penalties.
Penalties for not having proper workers' comp coverage in Wyoming:
- Stiff financial penalties
- Being charged with a misdemeanor
- Being charged with a felony
- Being imprisoned
An independent insurance agent can help when it comes to navigating the rough terrain of the Wyoming's workers' compensation program. They have walked this trail before and can give you some pointers.
Wyoming's Workers' Compensation Insurance Fraud Laws
Insurance fraud is a big deal. Filing a claim that isn't real or has been manipulated in an effort to get a large payout from the insurance company should be taken very seriously. Mainly because it lacks integrity, but also because the consequences could be dire for you, your employee, and your business.
Some insurance fraud consequences:
- Penalties and fines ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars
- Jail time of from one year to thirty years
The result of filing a faulty workers' compensation claim and being caught isn't worth the risk. An employee can file a false claim wanting a payout for an injury or exaggerated illness.
An employer can misclassify an employee to avoid them filing a claim in the first place. And a healthcare provider can extend the injury or illness to continue getting payment from an insurance company.
As the employer, you can set the stage. By setting up proper safety practices and a clean claims reporting process, you can help curb the chances of false claims being filed.
Workers' Compensation Insurance Companies in Wyoming
Since Wyoming has its own state-mandated workers' compensation program, you're required to obtain workers' compensation coverage through them. The real kicker is what industry you are in. The more risky your business operations are, the higher the premiums will be, even through a state-funded program.
If you have a cattle wrangling company and your employees are rope-tying cowboys, your workers' compensation premium will be a pretty penny. That's because your chances of filing a claim are high and the claims payout is likely to be high as well. Higher risk, higher premiums.
If you own a cowboy apparel shop and your employees are folding clothes and greeting customers, then you will have one of the lowest workers' compensation premiums on the market, because your business just isn't that risky.
All in all, the selection of insurance companies in your state is plentiful, but it may be a different story in your industry, depending on the insurance carrier's appetite.
Some states are monopolistic in their ruling, meaning they require you to obtain insurance through their state programs and only their state programs. The four states that adopted this state-funded workers' compensation program are: North Dakota, Ohio, Washington and Wyoming.
Self-Insured Workers' Compensation in Wyoming
Some states allow a business owner to self-insure. All this means is that you, as the business owner, agree to file an exemption through the state channels that declares you're insuring any and all workers' compensation claims internally.
This is a risky move even if you have deep pockets. It puts your business in jeopardy of financial ruin if a claim gets big enough. And in a world where you're only as good as your worst employee, taking on that kind of gamble is something to consider carefully.
Luckily, your independent insurance agent is an expert at these types of things, and can tell you if your state will allow self-insurance and discuss the repercussions of such a move. All in all, it should be discussed with a trusted adviser before making any long-term commitments.
Wyoming's State Workers' Compensation Benefits
In Wyoming, benefits are paid based on the necessity of the claim. This means that the state-funded program will pay out for as long as medically necessary and requested by a physician. Once you're cleared to go back to your regular working duties, then the claim will probably stop responding and be closed out.
The Wyoming workers' compensation program will also pay for lost wages of a worker as long as they are not able to go back to work for 3 days or more due to a work-related injury or illness.
How Long Can You Collect Workers' Compensation in Wyoming?
Workers' compensation can be collected and paid out normally until the patient is recovered and discharged from medical care. This is based on the physician's recommendations for the patient's care and recovery.
An independent insurance agent can help with the claims process and make sure all parties, employee, employer, and state, are communicating so there is a timeline for treatment and care.
Who Is Exempt from Workers' Compensation in Wyoming?
As an employer, you have to get workers' compensation insurance through the Wyoming state fund if you have even one employee. It just makes plain good sense to protect yourself and your business from a potential lawsuit, and they do occur.
Through the Wyoming workers' compensation state fund, you will not be included in coverage as the owner, member, partner or executive unless filed for and requested.
This can be discussed with your independent insurance agent and can save you a good chunk of premium by not including your own payroll as the owner. The majority of owners exclude themselves and simply use their health insurance if they get injured on the job.
What's the Cost of Workers' Compensation Insurance in Wyoming?
Well, it varies— just like any other state or insurance policy, for that matter. It's as vast as the number of industries in the world, and the only true way to know is to have your agent run the numbers on your business and its specifics.
While it's nearly impossible to know what your individual workers' compensation premium will be, here are some determining factors you can look out for.
Workers' compensation price-determining factors:
- Industry: This plays a big part in the cost of your workers' compensation premium. The riskier your business, the more your premiums will be.
- Number of employees: This determines how much your rates will increase. And more people equals more money.
- Gross annual payroll per employee type: Each employee is given a classification code that classifies their job duties and then charges premium according to how risky their tasks are. The amount of money you pay them will determine the amount of premium per classification code. The more payroll, the more premium you pay.
- Experience modification rating: if your business has had workers' compensation insurance for a total of three years or more, and you are paying over $5,000 in annual premium, then you'll be assigned an experience modification rating, aka "mod." This mod will adjust throughout the years depending on the number, length, and frequency of claims turned in. The better the mod, the better rate you will receive. Kind of like a credit score for your workers' compensation policy.
How to Apply for Workers' Compensation Coverage in Wyoming
As a business owner, knowing who to get workers' compensation insurance from can be a bit confusing if you're not familiar with your state requirements. Sure, you can just Google it, or ask around, but who knows what you're going to get?
With an independent insurance agent, you get a local Wyoming state expert who knows the workings of the state workers' compensation program. It's really as simple as it gets.
Getting workers' compensation coverage with an independent insurance agent goes like this:
Step One: Find a trusted independent insurance agent here.
Step Two: Go over your business details such as employee demographics, payroll and daily operations for proper classification of workers on your workers' compensation policy.
Step Three: Your independent insurance agent will take your information to the state program and let the offers pour in on coverage and rates.
Step Four: You and your independent insurance agent look at the best coverage option as it applies to your specific situation and go with coverage through the state program.
Step Five: Enjoy the freedom of working with a trusted adviser and having them handle all your workers' compensation insurance needs.
Following these five simple steps will ensure that you're on the road to a more protected future as a business owner, giving you appropriate coverage quickly and when you need it.
Wyoming's Workers' Compensation Claim Eligibility Requirements
In order to be eligible for a claim, you need to be able to prove the facts. As a business owner, having proper safety protocols in place for your employees is the first step. The next is to have a clear-cut workers' compensation claim reporting process that both you and your independent insurance agent agree upon.
To determine if a claim will process and pay out benefits, the insurance companies like to make sure they aren't being taken for a ride, so to speak. Having a streamlined process will help make for a faster, and more accurate, claims result.
In the end, it's down to the adjuster assigned to the claim and the insurance company to determine if a claim fits into their policy form. Time is of the essence, so be sure to report any claims activity within the first 24-hour period.
Benefits of an Independent Insurance Agent
Independent insurance agents have access to multiple insurance companies, ultimately finding you the best coverage, accessibility and competitive pricing while working for you.
And as your company grows and your needs change, they'll be there to help you adjust your coverage, up or down, to make sure you're properly protected without overpaying. Find an independent insurance agent in your community here.
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Wyoming Department of Workforce Services. (2019). http://www.wyomingworkforce.org/businesses/workerscomp/