Workers Compensation Insurance in Monopolistic States

What are Monopolistic States?

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Four states in the U.S. prohibit the sale of workers compensation insurance by private insurers. These states are called monopolistic states. In each of these states, employers must purchase workers compensation insurance from a state-operated insurance fund. The four monopolistic states are Ohio, Wyoming, Washington and North Dakota.

Nevada and West Virginia were monopolistic states in the past. Both switched to a competitive market system after their state fund experienced financial problems. Nevada opened its workers compensation market to private insurers in 1999. West Virginia followed suit in 2008. 

Monopolistic Versus Competitive Funds

Many states operate workers compensation insurance funds. Most state funds are competitive enterprises that vie for business with private insurers. Some serve multiple purposes. For instance, New York's state fund is a competitive fund that also administers the state's assigned risk plan.

Unlike competitive funds, the monopolistic states' funds are the only source of workers compensation insurance in those states. Private insurance is not permitted, so these funds have no competitors.  

Classification and Rating

Each of the four monopolistic states has developed its own classification and rating system. Ohio, Washington and North Dakota use a system based on four-digit codes. These differ from the NCCI codes. Wyoming classifies workers using the North American Industry Classification System. The NAICS is based on six-digit codes.

Separate Policy Required

Many businesses employ workers in multiple states. If a business employs workers in a monopolistic state, those workers cannot be insured under a multi-state workers compensation policy. Rather, they must be covered under a separate policy obtained from the state insurance bureau.

A workers compensation policy obtained in a monopolistic state does not include employers liability coverage. In these states, employers liability is typically covered via an endorsement attached to a general liability policy. When it is included by an endorsement, employers liability insurance is often called stop-gap coverage.


Purchasing Workers Compensation Coverage in Ohio

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In Ohio, workers compensation insurance is mandatory for any business that employs one or more workers. Employers must purchase this coverage from the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation (BWC). They can apply for a policy by completing an application and mailing it (along with the application fee) to the BWC. An application can be downloaded from the BWC's website.

The BWC operates an experience rating program, and calculates experience modifiers for eligible employers. Employers are subject to experience rating of their expected loss equals or exceeds $2,000, based on their payroll and applicable rates. The BWC offers a group experience rating program, which allows employers in similar businesses to save money on workers compensation premiums. A group must be sponsored by a trade association or other employer group. The sponsoring organization that wants to sponsor a group must apply to the BTW for certification.

Self-insurance of workers compensation is permitted in Ohio. To qualify as a self-insurer, an employer must employ at least 500 Ohio workers and meet other eligibility requirements.

Purchasing Workers Compensation Coverage in Wyoming

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In Wyoming, workers compensation insurance is administered by the Workers Compensation Division of the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services (DWS). Businesses that employ any workers in the state must register with the DWS. Registration is required before a business begins operations or hires any workers in Wyoming.

Once an employer has registered, the DWS will assign classifications. Base workers compensation rates are available at the Department's website. The DWS calculates experience modifiers for employers that are subject to experience rating.

Wyoming does not permit self-insurance of workers compensation obligations. However, the DWS does offer a deductible program for employers that meet its requirements.

Wyoming employers can apply to the DWS for financial assistance to implement health or safety training, or to invest in new safety equipment. Once a request has been approved, an employer may receive up to $10,000 from the Wyoming Safety Improvement Fund. 

Purchasing Workers Compensation Coverage in Washington

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Businesses that employ any workers in the state of Washington are required to purchase workers compensation insurance from the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I). In addition to providing insurance, the L&I oversees Washington's occupational and safety program, which is approved by OSHA.

Before a Washington employer can purchase workers compensation insurance, it must obtain a business license from the Department of Revenue (DOR). Once a license has been issued, the DOR notifies L&I that a workers compensation account is needed. L&I sets up an account, and determines the appropriate classifications and rates. It then notifies the employer of the premium that is due. If an employer is subject to experience rating, L&I calculates the applicable experience modifier.

Washington permits employers that have at least $25 million in assets to self-insure their workers compensation obligations. To qualify as a self-insurer, an employer must meet  requirements established by L&I.

Purchasing Workers Compensation Coverage in North Dakota

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North Dakota Workplace Safety and Insurance (WSI) is the provider and administrator of workers compensation insurance in the state of North Dakota. Businesses must purchase insurance if they hire individuals to work in North Dakota or have employees working at a business location in the state. To obtain a policy, an employer must complete an application and submit it to the Employer Services division of WSI. Applications are available at the WSI website.

The WSI establishes workers compensation rates. It also operates an experience rating program for employers that meet a specified premium threshold. Employers that don't meet the threshold are subject to a small account debit/credit program.

The WSI offers a return-to-work program to help injured workers get back to work as quickly as possible. The program includes medical case management, vocational case management, and assistance to injured workers who are seeking reemployment.

 North Dakota does not permit employers to self-insure their workers compensation obligations. However, the WSI does offer a large deductible program for employers that meet its qualifications.