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Workers' Compensation for California Businesses

What are the laws that govern workers’ compensation insurance in California?

According to the California state website:

California law requires that employers, including those in the construction industry, carry workers’ compensation insurance, even if they have only one employee. The insurance exists for employees who get hurt or sick because of work. Workers’ compensation insurance provides basic benefits, including medical care, temporary disability benefits, permanent disability benefits, supplemental job displacement benefits and a return-to-work supplement, and death benefits.

Workers’ compensation is the nation’s oldest social insurance program: It was adopted in most states, including California, during the second decade of the 20th century. The workers’ compensation system is based on a trade-off between employers and employees. Employees are entitled to receive prompt, effective medical treatment for on-the-job injuries or illnesses no matter who is at fault and, in return, are prevented from suing employers over those injuries.

As a result, California employers are required by law to have workers’ compensation insurance, even if they have only one employee. And, if your employees get hurt or sick because of work, you are required to pay for workers’ compensation benefits. Workers’ comp insurance provides basic benefits, including medical care, temporary disability benefits, permanent disability benefits, supplemental job displacement benefits and a return-to-work supplement, and death benefits.

The vast majority of workers’ compensation claims are resolved without any problems. However, sometimes a disagreement can arise between you and your employee over issues such as whether the injury was sustained on the job or how much in benefits they are entitled to receive.

When a dispute like that arises, the Division of Workers’ Compensation can help resolve it through its Information and Assistance Unit or by going before a judge at one of the division’s 22 local district offices plus satellites.

Who is required to purchase workers’ comp insurance in California?

According to the California state website:

All California employers must provide workers’ compensation benefits to their employees under California Labor Code Section 3700. If a business employs one or more employees, then it must satisfy the requirement of the law.

Sometimes a business owner (sole proprietor) may desire to purchase workers’ compensation insurance to cover himself/herself only. The inclusion of a sole proprietor must be clearly stated in the workers’ compensation policy or must be added as a coverage endorsement to the policy. Since workers’ compensation insurance is a type of liability insurance where the employer assumes complete liability for all worker injuries, a workers’ compensation policy for a sole proprietor may not be the best choice.

Purchasing health, life, and/or disability income insurance can be a viable option to workers’ compensation for a sole proprietor. Contact a licensed commercial broker-agent or a casualty broker-agent for further information and consultation.

Executive officers and directors of corporations must be included in workers’ compensation coverage, unless the corporation is fully owned by the directors and officers. If the directors and officers fully own the corporation, then they may elect to be excluded from workers’ compensation benefits. Fully owned corporations may want to discuss the option to include or exclude their officers and directors with a licensed commercial broker-agent.

California Labor Code Section 3351 defines who is an employee, and therefore who can be covered under a workers’ compensation policy. Whether a business is a sole proprietorship, a partnership, or a corporation, it is beneficial to develop a working relationship with a reliable, competent broker-agent who can explain coverage eligibility issues and present options based on the organization model of a business.

California Statistics*

*2017 business stats provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics

271,340

number of Californians employed by small businesses


15,700

number of workplace injuries


134

record high temperature in Death Valley, CA


500,000

annual seismic tremors


300,000

tons of grapes harvested annually


California Businesses We Cover with Workers' Comp Insurance

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Food & Beverage

Bars, Bistros, Cafeterias/Buffets, Candy Stores, Caterers, Coffee Shops, Doughnut Shops, Fast Casual, Fast Food, Fine Dining, Health Supplement Stores, Juice Shops, Tea Houses, Taverns and Nightclubs

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Tech Services

Data Processing, Ecommerce, Hosting, Graphic Design, Network Installation/Repair, Office Machine Installation/Repair, Programming, Strategy & Management Consulting Services, and Software/Web Development (includes SOLOpreneuers!)

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Legal Services

Athlete/Actor/Entertainer Agents, Court Reporters, Lawyers & Attorneys at Law, Notaries and Transcription

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General Retail

Bakeries, Beer/Wine/Liquor Stores, Butcher/Meat Markets, Convenience Stores/Gas Stations, Discount Stores, Fish, Seafood, Fruit & Vegetable Markets, Grocery Stores, Laundromats, Pet Stores, Pharmacies/Drug Stores, Specialty Food Stores

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Educational Services

Computer Training, Cosmetology/Barber Schools, Exam Preparation/Tutoring, Fine Art Schools, Language Schools, Libraries/Archives, Management Training, Professional Training, & Translation/Interpretation Services

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Manufacturing

Microbreweries (less than 15,000 barrels produced per year) & Wine Making (no growing or production of grapes/fruit)

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Personal Services

Barber Shops/Salons, Cemeteries/Mausoleums, Crematoriums, Funeral Homes, Interior Design, Pet Kennels/Groomers, Photography/Photofinishing, Gyms, Nail Salons, Self-Storage, Tanning Salons, Tattoo/Piercing, and Wedding/Event Planners

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Clothing Retail

Bridal Stores, Clothing Stores, Dry Cleaners, Formal Wear/Costume Rentals, Luggage & Leather Goods Stores, Shoe Retail/Repair, and Tailor Shops

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Personal Product Retail

Art Galleries/Stores, Auto Parts, Beauty/Cosmetics, Bike Stores, Bookstores, Camera/Photo Supplies, Cell Phone Retail/Repair, Computer Stores, Jewelry Stores, Musical Instruments, Sporting Goods , Tobacco/Vaping & Video Games

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Medical Professions

Blood Banks, Dental Labs, Dentists/Orthodontists, GP/Medical Specialists, Kidney Dialysis Centers, Medical Diagnostics & Testing, and Veterinarians

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Architecture & Engineering Services

Architects & Drafting, Engineering, Surveyors, & Window Treatment Stores (we do not cover construction contractors or trucking companies)

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Financial Services

Accounting, Auditors, Banks/Credit Unions, Bookkeeping, Collection Agencies, Financial Advisors/Trust Companies, Mortgage & Loan Brokers, Payroll Services, Tax Preparation, Title & Title Insurance

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Scientific Services

Scientific Research & Development/Consulting, Technical Consulting, & Environmental Consulting

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Office, Home, & Garden

Hearing Aid Stores, Hobby/Craft/Art Stores, Gift/Novelty Stores, Florists, Floor Covering Stores, Mailing/Packaging Stores, Models/Toy/Games, Office Supplies, Optical Stores, Paint/Wallpaper Stores, Perfume Stores, Plumbing & Taxidermists

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Therapeutic Services

Acupuncture, Chiropractors, Mental Health Practitioners, and Physical & Occupational Therapy

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Explore commonly asked questions about business type, industry and state.

To put it simply, your business is covered. Just like that.In most cases, all of your employees are covered by workers' compensation insurance, including subcontractors (given they provide you a Certificate of Insurance). However, a Certificate of Insurance (COI) isn't a guarantee of coverage (policy may have cancelled since issuance). You should request periodic COIs throughout the contract.
Workers' compensation insurance provides all state required benefits, including reasonable and necessary medical treatment and wage replacement, for employees injured in the course and scope of employment.
In most states, it’s required for small business owners to obtain workers’ compensation coverage. In the event that an employee is injured in the course and scope of your employment, workers' compensation insurance protects you from costly lawsuits and provides state required compensation for the employee, including lost wages and medical expenses.
The estimated premium is based on estimated payroll (at the beginning of the policy). The final premium is based on actual payroll (at the end of the policy) for the policy period (usually 12 months). In the event your payroll changes, we'll work with you on adjusting your policy.
Yes, the workers' compensation policy covers all of your employees. Significant changes to your payroll should be reported to Cerity. This will help mitigate having a large additional premium due at the end of your policy period.
Cerity is a data-services company that is a licensed insurance producer that provides comprehensive workers' compensation insurance for American businesses. In less than five minutes, a small business owner can have a quote and can be protected as soon as the next day. In other words, your business is covered. Just like that. We are backed by Employers Holdings, Inc., a workers' comp industry veteran of over 100 years, EHI is reimagining how to purchase workers compensation insurance.
You do not need any documents to apply - we told you it was simple! All you need to obtain a quote is tell us a few quick things about your business and we should be able to get you a quote.