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Georgia has relatively high workers' comp rates, compared to national averages. A 2020 study by the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services found that Georgia had an average workers’ compensation index rate of $1.64. This means Georgia is ranked 15th in the U.S., down from a position of 6th in a 2018 study. On average, Georgia businesses can expect to pay about $1.64 per $100 in total payroll.
Georgia workers’ compensation rates are recommended by the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI), which most states use as their rating bureau. NCCI collects data on workplace injuries and advises rates based on classification code, or industry classification. Class codes categorize businesses, and NCCI assigns rates to each class code based on the relative risk for illness or injury.
When seeking a workers’ compensation policy, small business owners can contact a licensed insurance agent or carrier. The insurance carrier calculates the final premium cost based on the advised rate, the company’s payroll, Experience Modifier, and any additional credits or debits based on the company’s workplace safety. Learn more about how workers' compensation costs are calculated.
If your business is having trouble finding coverage, NCCI also administers Georgia’s assigned risk pool, which will place you with a carrier.
The average cost of workers’ compensation premiums in Georgia, as of 2020 data, was $1.64. This is also called the “Premium Index Rate.” Workers’ compensation costs are calculated by multiplying the premium index rate per $100 of payroll.
So, in other words, a business with a total payroll of $200,000 would pay a $3,280 per year in workers’ compensation premiums. However, it’s important to note that the premium index rate is only an average. Depending on the exact line of business, costs could be much higher or lower.
For example, construction workers have a higher risk of being injured than retail employees – and workers’ compensation premiums would reflect this. And the opposite is true, too. Employees in lower-risk positions are less likely to be injured, so your rates would be lower in that case.
Workers’ comp premiums in Georgia are a lot cheaper than they were a few years ago, but Georgia is still quite a bit more expensive than some other states when it comes to workers’ comp rates. There are a few things that can influence this, and may explain Georgia’s higher rates.
Just because the premium index rate is $1.64 doesn’t mean all businesses pay this exact amount for workers’ compensation insurance in Georgia. In fact, most companies pay more – or less – than the premium index rate. The biggest factor is your line of work. The higher the risk of injury in your business, the more you’ll pay in workers’ compensation premiums.
Another factor is your safety record. If you have a long record of safety and few workplace injuries, you’ll have a lower rate. On the other hand, if you have a higher rate of injuries, you may have to pay a higher overall premium.
So, for example, someone running an accounting business and has no history of workers’ comp claims could pay just $1 per $100 of payroll, which is lower than the premium index rate of $1.64. If their business paid out $100,000 in wages annually, they’d pay just $1,000 in total for coverage.
On the other hand, someone who runs a plumbing business in Georgia and has lots of accident claims could pay $2-$3 per $100 of payroll, or even more. For a company with total wages of $100,000, that adds up to $2,000 or $3,000.
Georgia workers’ compensation classification codes or “class codes,” are set by the National Council on Compensation Insurance, or NCCI. Each class code has a certain level of risk, and insurance costs are adjusted accordingly. By taking into account all the employees at your business and their various class codes, insurers can understand the overall level of injury risk at your company.
Let’s say you run a landscaping business in Georgia with five workers. Four of them are landscapers. They are assigned the class code "0042.” This class code has a higher risk of injury, because landscapers must move heavy equipment, use power tools, and so on.
The other worker at your landscaping business is an accountant. They are assigned the class code “8803.” This class code has a very low risk of injury, since accountants usually work on computers and in offices, where injuries – while not impossible – are uncommon.
When writing an insurance policy for workers’ compensation insurance in Georgia, an insurance company would take the risk of each employee into account. Overall, this landscaping business would pay a relatively high rate for insurance, since it has four workers who are assigned a high-risk class code, and only one worker with a low-risk class code.
If you employ three or more people at your business in Georgia, you need to have workers’ compensation insurance.
This includes full-time, part-time, and seasonal employees. If your business is incorporated or operates as an LLC, all officers and LLC members are included in this employee count, too.
It is possible for you to waive coverage on yourself, and up to five total officers or members. To do this, you must file form WC-10 with your insurance carrier. However, this does not mean that you do not count as employees.
Even if you waive coverage, you and all others who waive coverage are still included in the employee count. So for example, let’s say your company has five officers, you all waive coverage, and your business only employs a single part-time worker. You still would be required to purchase workers’ comp insurance for that single employee under Georgia laws and requirements, because your company is considered to have six total employees.
The exception to this is if you are a sole proprietor or operate in a partnership, you are not considered to be an employee. You can still opt in to coverage as an employee by notifying your insurance carrier in writing that you wish to be included.
If you are an independent contractor in Georgia, you are not required by law to purchase workers’ comp. However, you also will not be covered by a client’s workers’ comp policy. Under Georgia law, independent contractors are not considered to be employees in any capacity, and do not qualify for workers’ comp benefits if they are injured on the job.
Because of this, we strongly encourage independent contractors to purchase their own workers’ compensation policy in Georgia. If you do purchase a policy for yourself, you will be covered in the event of a workplace injury – not under your client’s policy, but under your own.
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Georgia has a private market, which means you can get a workers' compensation quote from any private insurance carrier or agency that is licensed in Georgia.
Georgia does not have a state fund that competes with the private market. If you have trouble getting a policy, you can obtain coverage through the assigned risk pool.
Need more information? Here are some frequently asked questions about GA workers' comp.
Georgia employers with three or more employees must carry coverage, regardless of whether these are full-time, part-time or temporary / seasonal workers. The policy must cover all employees in case of a work-related injury or illness. Coverage must be in place by the start date of the third employee, or the employer could face fines for non-compliance.
The policy may also cover the employer, though Georgia does allow some employers to waive coverage if they wish.
Typically, the business must purchase coverage for all employees before the third employee's start date, so coverage is in effect before they begin work. Workers' compensation policies are in effect for a full year.
If the business has three employees, it needs a worker' comp policy regardless of the company's size. Small business insurance is just like any other commercial insurance product, but coverage is relative to the amount of exposure a small business might have. Less exposure means lower limits, and therefore, lower premiums.
For workers' compensation insurance, premiums are based on total payroll. This means costs may change as payroll fluctuates.
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