Massachusetts Workers' Compensation Insurance

Massachusetts’ workers’ compensation system is strict: You must carry workers’ compensation insurance if you have any employees, including family members.

A workers’ comp policy protects both employer and employee when a work-related injury or illness occurs. Below we outline everything you need to know to buy work comp in Massachusetts.

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Small Business Work Comp Requirements in Massachusetts

Employers must carry an active workers’ compensation insurance policy for all employees, whether full-time, part-time or family. The owner must also be covered if considered an employee.

Exceptions

The few exceptions to this rule include:

  • Domestic employees who must work less than 16 hours a week.
  • Members of a limited liability company (LLC), partners of a limited liability partnership (LLP), or sole proprietors of an unincorporated business.*  
  • Corporate officers who own at least 25% interest in the corporation can request an exemption from workers’ compensation coverage.*
  • Real estate agents working on a commission basis.
  • Taxi drivers who lease their cabs on a fee basis and who are not treated as an employee under federal tax law.

*Note: This exemption does not apply to employees who are not members or officers. Employees must still be covered.

Independent Contractors

In Massachusetts, workers are presumed to be employees, unless enough evidence suggests otherwise. Companies hiring contractors should be sure workers operate independently and comply with state requirements.

Out-of-State Employers

If you have an all states endorsement, check with your insurance carrier or state authority to see if yours is compliant with Massachusetts law.

Unless the workers’ compensation policy has an all states endorsement, coverage is only in effect within state lines. Additional coverage must be secured to protect employees and comply with state law when workers travel across state lines.

How to Buy Small Business Workers’ Compensation Insurance

Massachusetts has a private market. Employers can purchase a workers' compensation policy from any private insurance carrier or agency that is licensed to write in that state. Get a free quote from WorkCompOne >>

If you’re still having trouble finding coverage, you can contact the Massachusetts assigned risk pool, which will place you with a carrier.

The insurance agent or carrier will ask you basic information about your business, such as number of employees, type of work performed by those employees and total payroll. Be sure to have your current payroll and EIN number on hand.

You can set the start date of your policy, and insurers may allow you to set your billing frequency to annually, quarterly or monthly.

Coverage and Rates in Massachusetts

Massachusetts strictly enforces its workers’ compensation law. The state may issue a stop work order (SWO) to employers who don’t have workers’ compensation insurance, and minimum fines are $100 per day. Employers can also be subject to criminal charges, or debarment from public contracts.

Massachusetts workers comp rates decreased on average 12.9% in 2018. Rates are set by the Workers' Compensation Rating and Inspection Bureau of Massachusetts, and vary based on industry. Insurers must abide by state-wide rates, but can apply credits and debits on an individual basis to calculate the final workers’ compensation insurance quote.

While compliance depends on the number of employees, insurance premium is set based on total payroll. It’s often represented as the rate per hundred dollars in payroll.

Massachusetts construction workers were a disproportionate number of opioid-related deaths in 2011 - 2015, a disturbing trend under recent investigation by the state. Researchers also found a correlation between higher fatal opioid-related overdoses and occupations with higher rates of work-related injuries and illnesses.

Work comp covers wage replacement and medical bills for employees injured on the job. To protect against other injuries at your place of business, you may need general liability insurance.

Massachusetts Work Comp Resources

Editor's note: Last updated on September 24, 2018

Here's What You Need to Get Started

To buy workers compensation insurance, you need to request a quote from a licensed insurance agent and provide some details about your business.

Here’s what to have in front of you:

  • Number of employees in each class code.
  • Total payroll for all employees. You may be able to exclude yourself if you don't wish to be covered under the policy. 
  • Federal ID Number. If you are a sole proprietor, you can use your Social Security Number.
  • Copy of your workers comp insurance policy, if you've had coverage or claims in the past few years. If you know your company's experience mod, please have your experience mod rating sheet or policy in front of you. Otherwise, you will be assigned a default rating of 1.0.

The information on this page has been interpreted and summarized for your convenience. Please consult your state's governing authority for the most current and complete legislation.