North Carolina is home to more than 800,000 small businesses, employing about 1.6 million people. This represents a significant amount of on-the-job risk of injury or illnesses to workers in the state and the small business owners who employ them. It’s one of the reasons that if you own a small business in North Carolina, you may be required by law to carry workers’ compensation insurance. If you don’t have it, you could face penalties and more serious legal issues.
In this article, we’ll cover:
- 5 best workers’ compensation insurance companies in North Carolina
- Workers’ compensation laws in North Carolina
- What does workers’ compensation insurance cover in North Carolina?
- What doesn’t workers’ compensation insurance cover?
- How much does workers’ compensation insurance cost in North Carolina?
- How to find cheap workers’ compensation insurance in North Carolina?
- How is workers’ compensation insurance different than general liability insurance?
5 best workers’ compensation insurance companies in North Carolina
We researched many companies that offer workers’ compensation insurance in North Carolina to come up with our top five for different reasons.
- biBERK: Best for cheap coverage from a top-tier carrier
- Simply Business: Best for finding the cheapest coverage
- CoverWallet: Best for businesses looking to quickly compare quotes from many providers
- Smart Financial: Best for experienced and knowledgeable agents
- THREE: Best for comprehensive coverage and simple and easy-to-understand policy
biBERK: Best for cheap coverage from a top-tier carrier
biBERK is a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway. They focused completely on selling insurance coverage to small businesses. Workers comp insurance is one of their coverage offerings. biBERK sells insurance completely online, offering a simple and fast online quoting. Within 10 minutes any small business owner should be able to buy a workers comp insurance policy on their website
- Backed by one of the very best insurance brand names, Berkshire Hathaway, with unparalleled financial strength and reputation
- One of the best digital experiences, from getting quotes, buying a policy, and managing the policies completely online
- One of the most affordable rates in the industry. They claim that their customers save 20% on average
- Great customer support experience, including claim assistance
- Their policies may have lower coverage, although still satisfying the minimum coverage requirements by the state. If you compare several policies, you should pay attention to the coverage limits of all policies
- If you prefer working 1:1 with an agent in-person, you may look elsewhere
Simply Business: Best for finding the cheapest coverage
Simply Business is an insurance brokerage firm, focused 100% on serving small and medium-sized businesses. Simply Business offers all coverages that small or medium-sized businesses may need. They work with 30+ carriers with one single goal of helping small businesses find the coverage they need at the cheapest rate available. If your main goal is to find the cheapest rate quickly, you may want to work with Simply Business.
- Easy to get and compare several quotes to find the cheapest one
- All carriers have good financial strength ratings and tend to offer low-cost coverage. These carriers may not be easily accessible outside of Simply Business platform
- Great customer satisfaction rating on trustpilot
- In some cases, quotes may not be available online. You have to call to discuss your cheapest quote options
- If you prefer working with a particular carrier that Simply Business doesn’t work out, you may need to look elsewhere
CoverWallet: Best for businesses looking to quickly compare quotes from many providers
CoverWallet is a cutting-edge and highly-experienced insurance provider. The firm has developed a proprietary, state-of-the-art platform, using its own algorithms, to ensure it is able to connect small businesses with the workers comp coverage they need at the best possible price. The platform makes it fast and easy to get quotes from multiple providers. This makes it possible to get and compare quotes from several highly reputable insurers.
The firm’s experts have used their extensive experience to make certain you only answer the questions you need — and provide the information required — to generate quick and accurate quotes. The entire process should take less than ten minutes from beginning to end.
You can also rest assured knowing that CoverWallet is a part of Aon, a well-known company that provides advice to businesses on things like risk, health, and retirement.
Once you get your quote, it’s easy to purchase a policy online or through an agent. When you get your workers’ comp coverage through CoverWallet, it’s simple to manage your policies online, including doing things like downloading a certificate of insurance, filing a claim, renewing your policy and more.
In addition to all this, you can get other types of business insurance coverage through CoverWallet, making it easy to secure and manage all your small business coverage such as general liability, commercial auto insurance, professional liability insurance, cyber insurance, etc.
Smart Financial: Best brokerage firm with experienced and knowledgeable agents
Smart Financial is another brokerage firm specializing in serving small businesses. They partner with 50+ carriers and offer all coverages small businesses may need, including workers comp insurance. One unique aspect of Smart Financial is that they believe small business insurance is quite complex and small business owners should work closely with an experienced agent to make sure they understand the right coverages that they need. That’s the reason why Smart Financial’s main focus is to match small business owners with an agent who has significant experience in the same industry and niche.
- A large network of agents who are very knowledgeable and experienced in all industries and niches
- A large network of carriers ensures that small businesses have access to the right coverages at affordable prices
- Simple and fast experience to match small business owners and agents
- Limited digital capabilities, ie. no online quotes
- If you prefer doing everything online, you may need to look elsewhere
THREE: Best for comprehensive coverage and simple and easy-to-understand policies
THREE is another direct-to-consumer carrier belonging to the Berkshire Hathaway family. THREE was founded with a belief that all business insurance policies should be less than 3 pages and free of insurance jargon.
- Great digital experience. Easy to get quotes, buy a policy, and manage a policy online
- Simple and extremely easy-to-understand policies
- No exclusions buried in the policy’s fine print
- Comprehensive coverage
- Rates may not be as competitive, but reasonable for a comprehensive coverage
- Online quotes may not be consistent. Sometimes you have to call to get quotes
Workers compensation laws in North Carolina
The North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act (NCWCA) requires that businesses with three or more employees have workers’ comp insurance. This includes businesses operating as:
- Sole proprietorships
- Limited liability companies (LLCs)
Be aware that the North Carolina Industrial Commission uses different criteria to figure out whether independent contractors are employees. One of the biggest ones is how much control the employer has over what the contractor does.
You could also be liable for employee injuries if you subcontract some or all of your work. This could be the case if a subcontractor doesn’t have workers’ compensation insurance. If one of their employees gets hurt or sick on the job, you could be responsible for their medical costs. This could include:
- Unlawfully employed persons
- Temporary employees
- Part-time employees
- Seasonal workers.
There are some exceptions as to who is categorized as an employee in North Carolina. Sole proprietors, LLC members and business partners aren’t considered employees. However, they can choose to be covered if they meet certain requirements.
Some types of employees are also exempt from the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act, including:
- “Casual” employees which are ones that do not work regular hours and are able to leave a job without notice
- Domestic household workers
- Agriculture workers at farms with fewer than ten employees
- Employees of the federal government
- Railroad workers
- Corporate officers who choose to be excluded from workers’ comp coverage. Even if they decide to do this, they’re still counted as an employee when determining if a business has three or more workers.
What does workers compensation insurance cover in North Carolina?
In North Carolina, workers’ comp can help cover:
- Accident or injury: Workers’ compensation coverage pays medical costs if an employee gets injured while on the job
- Illness: If a worker is exposed to harmful chemicals or allergens in the workplace that cause an illness, their medical care can be covered by workers’ comp
- Lost wages: A work-related injury or illness often forces employees to miss work. Workers’ comp helps replace the lost wages of injured or sick employees while they’re recovering
- Ongoing care: If a workplace injury or illness requires an employee to get ongoing care, such as physical therapy, workers’ compensation will pay for the treatment
- Funeral costs: If an employee passes away because of a work-related incident, workers’ comp pays funeral costs up to a certain limit
- Repetitive injury. If a worker is injured because of ongoing repetitive job related strain, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, workers’ comp will pay for therapy
- Disability benefits: If an injury is so severe an employee never returns to work, or doesn’t for a long time, workers’ comp will pay medical costs and some lost wages over the long term.
What doesn’t workers compensation insurance cover?
Workers’ compensation insurance won’t cover things like:
- Injuries to independent contractors, clients or customers
- Employees who are intoxicated or high when they’re injured
- Wages for temporary employees while recovering from a work-related injury
- OSHA fines
- Injuries that occur after the employee has left work
- Vandalism or intentional injuries.
How much does workers compensation insurance cost in North Carolina?
In North Carolina, the cost of workers’ comp coverage depends on a number of factors, including your:
- Number of employees and size of payroll
- Industry and type of work
- Workplace risks
- Company claims history
- Business age or years in operation.
There are different rates for each type of employee, which is covered by North Carolina workers’ comp class codes. These are applied on a percentage basis per $100 of payroll. On average, workers compensation insurance costs $0.9 per $100 payroll in North Carolina.
Workers comp insurance cost also varies by providers, so be sure to shop around with a few providers (bibERK, THREE, the Hartford) or a digital broker like Simply Business, CoverWallet, or Commercialinsurance.net to compare several quotes to select the best and cheapest one for your company.
How to find cheap workers compensation insurance in North Carolina
Most businesses in North Carolina are able to choose their own workers’ comp insurance provider. You owe it to yourself to compare coverage and costs from several insurers. They have different ways of calculating premium costs and you will likely find a range of prices. You can select one that offers you the best coverage at the lowest possible cost.
Some insurance companies offer several discount programs for having safety policies and return-to-work policies in place, so make sure you are asking the insurance companies if there are discount programs available to your company. You should also have discount if you choose to bundle several business insurance policies together.
Lastly, the cost of worker compensation insurance depends on the classification codes of your employees. Construction workers have much more expensive workers compensation insurance than clerical workers, so make sure you classify your employees into the correct codes and remember to update the codes when your employees change the nature of their work. That might help reduce the premiums you have to pay for workers comp insurance policy.
Do 1099 employees and contractors need to have workers comp insurance in North Carolina?
In North Carolina, independent contractors and 1099 employees are not obligated to have workers’ compensation insurance, and their employers do not have to provide it for them. However, if a worker in this category is injured while working, they may still be able to receive workers’ compensation benefits if they can demonstrate that they were an employee, not an independent contractor, at the time of the injury.
The state of North Carolina employs a multi-factor test to distinguish between employees and independent contractors. The test looks at elements such as the employer’s level of control, the skills required for the job, and the relationship between the worker and the employer.
If a worker who was misclassified as an independent contractor is injured while working, they may have the option to pursue workers’ compensation benefits from their employer through legal action. However, they would need to prove that they were misclassified and not an independent contractor.
For their own protection, it is advisable for independent contractors and 1099 employees to secure their own workers’ compensation insurance coverage in case of on-the-job injury or illness.
What if they fail to prove they were misclassified as independent contractors, what options are available to them?
If an independent contractor or 1099 employee is unable to prove that they were misclassified and are therefore not eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, they may have other options for seeking compensation for their injury. Some of these options may include:
- Personal Injury Lawsuit: The worker may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against their employer or a third party who was responsible for the injury.
- Disability Benefits: If the worker is unable to return to work due to their injury, they may be eligible for disability benefits from the state or from a private disability insurance policy that they may have purchased.
- Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI): If the worker is unable to work due to their injury, they may be eligible for SSDI benefits from the federal government.
- Unemployment Benefits: If the worker is unable to work due to their injury, they may be eligible for unemployment benefits if they meet the eligibility criteria set by the state.
It is important to note that each case is unique and the options available to a worker will depend on the specific circumstances of their injury and their employment status. An attorney specializing in workers’ compensation or personal injury law may be able to provide more information and assistance in exploring these options.
Learn more about workers comp insurance requirements for independent contractors and 1099 employees in different states
Workers compensation insurance vs. general liability insurance: How are they different?
Workers comp only covers people who work for you. If a client, customer or random person is injured at your workplace or job site, general liability insurance will cover it. General liability covers bodily injury and damage caused by you or an employee to someone else’s property.