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Texas is the only state in the country that does not require employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance.
Texas state law is unique in that employers are not required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Limited exceptions to this rule may include:
Texas employers who do not carry workers’ compensation insurance coverage are required to report their non-coverage status and must still report any work-related injuries and occupational diseases to the Texas Department of Insurance, Division of Workers’ Compensation.
Employers must also notify their employees that they do not provide work comp insurance. Employers can receive fines from the state for not complying with annual reporting requirements.
Employers that opt-out of the state workers’ compensation system are called non-subscribers. Non-subscribers are not penalized by the state for not carrying coverage, but can be at risk for greater liability if a worker is injured.
Even if businesses are not required to carry insurance, the employer may still be responsible for the costs of a workers' compensation claim if a worker is injured on the job.
Workers’ compensation insurance limits the employer’s liability for work-related injuries, and opting into workers’ compensation legally limits the amount and type of compensation that an injured employee may receive. Non-subscribers are exposed to nearly unlimited damages and legal fees, if a worker brings a personal injury lawsuit against the company.
Texas workers’ compensation system reforms, including health care networks, advocacy and resources for safer workplaces, have focused on reducing costs and improving worker care. As a result, premiums have fallen by 63% since 2005, according to the Texas Department of Insurance – Division of Workers’ Compensation (TDI-DWC).
Texas workers’ compensation rates are recommended by the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI), which most states use as their rating bureau. NCCI sets the rate, or baseline cost, of work comp insurance for all businesses operating within Texas. It does so by collecting and analyzing loss data, or workers’ compensation claims for workplace injuries and illnesses.
NCCI advises rates based on class code, or industry classification. Rates are then multiplied by total gross payroll for all employees being covered under the policy, to calculate the policy premium amount.
The Texas workers' compensation system switched to NCCI as its state rating bureau in 2014.
NCCI reports that the average rate for each $100 of payroll dropped from $2.32 in 2003 to $0.86 in 2015. For a business with a payroll of $100,000, this represents a decrease of $1,460 or 63%.
Fewer claims and injuries suggest that Texas workplaces are becoming safer, and lower rates have incentivized more employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance.
Meanwhile, critics of the opt-out system argue that by allowing employers to offer their own program for injured workers, larger companies in particular are able to get away with lower benefits and limited oversight.
For a small business, Texas workers’ compensation insurance will vary in cost based on payroll, industry and claims history. Learn more about how much workers' compensation costs.
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Texas has a private market for workers' compensation insurance policies. This means small businesses can purchase a policy from any insurance carrier or agency that is licensed by the Texas Department of Insurance.
Employers must comply with the state where employees perform work, regardless of where the business was founded or is based. If a business operates in multiple states, or employees travel across state lines to work, businesses may need to modify the policy to guarantee coverage. Non-subscribers might still need coverage for out-of-state employees or work.
Commercial insurance carriers must be licensed by Texas to bind work comp policies in the state.
Self-insuring or joining self-insuring groups are also options, typically for larger employers, as long as the self-insured parties meet state requires and are certified.
If you’re having trouble getting a workers’ compensation policy, contact Texas Mutual Insurance Company. Texas Mutual is the workers compensation insurer of last resort, and will provide coverage to higher-risk businesses.
In Texas, insurance companies that offer workers' compensation insurance are required to provide accident prevention services to policyholders at no additional charge. Contact your insurance carrier to see what services or programs they offer.
The Texas Department of Insurance also provides resources to help keep workplaces safe. The Occupational Safety and Health Consultation Program (OSHCON) helps employers understand and comply with OSHA requirements, and teaches them how to maintain safe workplaces.
Premiums vary based on business size, location, industry and claims history. Find out the average small business work comp premium and how much you might pay.
Workers’ compensation law can be confusing and complicated. This guide outlines what you need to know to buy work comp insurance.