Workers’ Compensation Insurance in South Carolina

How Is Workers’ Compensation Insurance Defined in South Carolina?

The state of South Carolina defines workers’ compensation insurance as a system of insurance that pays for workers’ medical treatment and lost wages in regard to workplace injuries or illnesses. The South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act states, “If an employee suffers injury by accident arising out of and in the course of employment, that individual is entitled to recover medical expenses, temporary total compensation for lost time, and permanent disability benefits if he/she suffered any permanent injury as a result of the work accident.” 

Employers must pay for the insurance coverage for their employees. In exchange, the employer cannot be held liable for workers’ injuries or illnesses. 

What Are the Laws Regarding Workers’ Compensation Coverage in South Carolina? 

The law in South Carolina states that business owners with four or more regular full-time or part-time employees are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. South Carolina works with a broad definition of employees: adults, minors, and seasonal workers are all covered under state law. In addition, family businesses, nonprofit organizations, and general contractors all must have coverage if they employ more than four individuals. 

Independent contractors and sole proprietors do not need workers’ comp coverage. However, some may choose to get coverage for themselves to protect against the costs associated with workplace injuries and illnesses. 

What Does Workers’ Compensation Insurance Cover in South Carolina?

In the event of a workplace accident, South Carolina workers’ comp insurance provides both medical coverage and payments for lost wages and permanent disabilities. This can include temporary or permanent benefits including but not limited to:

  • Benefits for medical treatment and medical travel expenses
  • Partial disability and total disability benefits
  • Compensation for disfigurement
  • Death benefits for fatal work accidents

In addition, South Carolina workers’ comp covers temporary disability and permanent disability benefits. 

Temporary workers’ comp benefits apply when an employee is unable to work for more than one week. In those situations, the worker is able to receive compensation for the lost wages, which are called “lost time benefits.” The employee’s doctor must certify that the employee is not able to work. Lost time benefits are usually two-thirds of the employee’s monthly income and determined by the employee’s earnings the month before the individual gets sick or is injured in the workplace. 

This benefit is considered temporary and only lasts while the employee’s doctor is actively treating them. If the employee’s doctor determines that the team member is able to return to work, they will receive a letter from the insurance company called a “Notice of Claim Status,” which clarifies that the doctor said they can officially work again. If the employee is unable to return to work full time or can only do modified work, and as a result they are earning less than they usually do, they can continue to get time lost benefits, which will be two-thirds of the difference in their earnings.

Permanent workers’ comp benefits apply when an employee’s doctor finds that their condition is stationary, or not expected to improve any further. In this case, the doctor will determine whether the employee has a permanent disability. If the employee does, the doctor will give them a percentage of disability. This number, along with the employee’s age, education, and work history helps determine the employee’s rate of compensation.

What Are the Penalties in South Carolina for Not Having Workers’ Comp Insurance Coverage?

South Carolina, like most other states, takes workers’ compensation very seriously. This means that employers who are legally required to have coverage and are found to be noncompliant by the state’s Workers’ Compensation Division may be subject to penalties or fines. In the event of noncompliance, the state can take business assets to pay for the costs associated with a workers’ comp claim. 

Learn more about workers’ comp coverage requirements in states other than South Carolina here

What Types of Injuries Are Covered by South Carolina Workers’ Comp?

South Carolina state law outlines specifically which types of injuries are covered by workers’ comp insurance. However, there are general guidelines that can help employers understand what typically qualifies for a workers’ comp claim.

The types of injuries typically covered by workers’ comp are:

  • Injuries that are not the result of intentional self-harm or harm from drug use, alcohol use, or fighting
  • Injuries that fall within the general “course and scope” of the worker’s employment, such as long-term occupational injuries, including back strain from repetitive motion

For more information about the workers’ comp claim process, visit our learning center

What Are Workers’ Comp Death Benefits in South Carolina?

If a worker passes away due to a workplace injury or illness, their surviving spouse, minor children, and other eligible beneficiaries may receive death benefits in South Carolina. Additional beneficiaries outside of spouses and minor children include adult children who are younger than 23 and full-time students, or those who are mentally or physically incapable of supporting themselves. In addition, others such as stepchildren and illegitimate children who are dependent on the worker may receive benefits. 

Death benefits include weekly compensation and benefits for burial and funeral expenses up to $2,500. Generally, surviving dependents receive two-thirds of the deceased worker’s average weekly wage for up to 500 weeks.

How Do Workers’ Comp Settlements Work in South Carolina? 

As in other states, workers’ comp settlements in South Carolina are mutually beneficial agreements made between the injured worker, the employer, and the insurance company that close workers’ comp claims completely. Settlements usually result in the employee being paid an agreed-upon amount of compensation (via structured monthly payments or one lump sum). In exchange, the worker agrees not to pursue additional benefits or civil litigation in relation to the claim in the future, and the claim is closed permanently. 

What Are the Statutes of Limitations Regarding Workers’ Comp in South Carolina? 

In South Carolina, employees must file their workers’ comp claim within two years from the date of the injury or discovery of the illness. In addition, the injured employee must inform their employer of the injury or illness as soon as possible, but legally they must do so within 90 days of the injury. If the employee fails to meet these statutes, they forfeit their right to a workers’ comp claim. 

How Much Does Workers’ Compensation Insurance Cost in South Carolina?

As in other states, the cost of workers’ comp insurance premiums in South Carolina will vary depending on a variety of circumstances. Private insurers set their own rates, which are usually determined using several factors that are unique to each business. 

For South Carolina business owners looking for coverage, the best way to tell how much you’ll pay is to compare quotes from multiple companies. Every business’s premiums will be different depending on claims history and business categorization. For example, if your business is considered low risk, your rates might be lower than those of businesses that are considered high risk. 

Many factors unique to your business will be utilized to determine your exact insurance premiums. 

Some of these factors include: 

  • The location of your business
  • The size of your business and the number of employees 
  • The industry in which your business operates

Hoping to lower your insurance premiums? Luckily there are preventative steps, such as prioritizing risk mitigation techniques, that might be able to help. Insurance providers consider how seriously businesses take workplace safety when calculating workers’ comp premium rates. This means that taking simple steps such as enacting employee training sessions, following industry best practices, and creating safety protocols could potentially help lower your insurance premiums. 

How Do I Get Workers’ Comp for My South Carolina Business?

Business owners seeking workers’ comp coverage in South Carolina can purchase a policy through any commercial insurance company, agent, or broker that is licensed to operate in the state. Those who cannot get approved for private insurance can get coverage through the state of South Carolina or via the state’s assigned risk program, which is administered by the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI). 

In addition, South Carolina businesses can opt to self-insure. Self-insurance is only available to businesses that meet certain financial requirements because it requires the business to be held financially responsible for the cost of all expenses in the event of a claim. With self-insurance businesses must pay out of pocket without the assistance of insurance. This is not an ideal choice for most businesses, as it can be extremely costly in the event of an incident. 

Luckily, South Carolina businesses can easily get workers’ comp insurance coverage when they partner with the right private insurance provider. Cerity created a faster, more affordable way to get workers’ comp. Our goal is to help South Carolina business owners just like you get insurance premium quotes fast — without phone calls or paperwork. With our proprietary tools and modern technology, we provide business owners with quick quotes and instant policies. 

Visit our free online quote tool and begin protecting your South Carolina business today.

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