In most cases, Oklahoma employers must carry workers’ compensation insurance. Not having coverage could result in a misdemeanor charge and fines. The state revamped its workers’ compensation system in 2013, and has been in flux ever since.
Below, we outline workers’ comp requirements for Oklahoma small businesses.
You are required to carry workers' compensation insurance in Oklahoma if you have any employees, whether full-time or part-time.
Sole proprietors and partners: You are a sole proprietor or partner: In Oklahoma, you are excluded from coverage but have the option to include yourself.
Corporate officers and members: Oklahoma excludes officers and members owning 10% or more stock, but you may elect to include yourself.
“Family five or fewer”: If you have up to five employees and all are immediate family, you are exempt from providing workers’ compensation.
Independent contractors: Independent contractor may complete an “Affidavit of Exempt Status” to verify that they are waiving coverage.
In Oklahoma, both the independent contractor and the principal employer can be held liable for an uninsured subcontractor’s employees. If hiring a contractor with employees, ask the subcontractor to show proof of coverage.
Other exceptions include:
Oklahoma has a private market, meaning that you can purchase workers' compensation insurance from any private insurance carrier or agency that is licensed to write in that state.
Oklahoma has a state fund that competes with the private market. You can contact CompSource Mutual Insurance Company, if you are unable to secure coverage from a private insurance carrier. State funds accept higher-risk businesses, but their rates are often higher.
The Oklahoma workers’ compensation system has been in flux—and a source of debate—for at least a decade. Citing high costs, excessive claim payouts and a slow-moving system, state lawmakers passed legislation in 2013 that reformed the state’s work comp.
Since then, costs have declined, but laws have still be evolving. A number of provisions have been struck down by the state supreme court as unconstitutional. One such law, the Oklahoma Employee Injury Benefit Act, or Opt-Out Act, allowed employers to opt out of the state workers’ compensation system and provide its own Employee Benefit Plan. It has since been overturned.
In 2018, Oklahoma workers’ compensation rates decreased 16.3%, the largest decrease filed that year by NCCI and fifth year in a row that rates have decreased.
Many agree that the state work comp system was facing an overrun system full of unnecessary costs and benefits, and badly needed to be reformed. The recent changes have brought down costs and benefits; a significant drop in rates has been attributed to the 2013 law. But critics say it’s gone too far in the other direction, and that the cost savings are at the expense of injured workers.
Oklahoma workers’ compensation rates are recommended by the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI), which most states use as their rating bureau. NCCI collects workers’ compensation data and advises rates for commercial insurance carriers.
When buying a policy, small business owners can contact any insurance agent or carrier licensed to write in Oklahoma. The insurance carrier calculates the final premium cost based on the set rate, the company’s payroll, and any additional credits or debits applied. Learn more about how much workers’ compensation costs.
Editor's note: Last updated on August 13, 2018