Workers’ Compensation Insurance Policy & Law in Tennessee

How Is Workers’ Compensation Insurance Defined in Tennessee?

The state of Tennessee defines workers’ compensation as a system of insurance that is meant to assist both employees and employers in minimizing the impact of work-related injuries and illnesses. The Tennessee Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) administers the Tennessee Workers’ Compensation Act to provide services that are designed to help injured or ill employees return to health and their jobs as soon as possible. Workers’ compensation insurance provides injured or ill workers with appropriate medical treatment, wage replacement, and additional forms of compensation for costs associated with workplace injuries or illnesses. 

What Are the Laws Regarding Workers’ Compensation Coverage in Tennessee? 

In Tennessee, most businesses are required by law to have workers’ compensation coverage. The law states that any employer in the state with five or more employees must have coverage. In addition, any employer in the construction business or related trades with one or more employees must provide coverage, unless they are specifically exempted. 

Certain types of positions can be exempt from coverage, including corporate officers of non-construction employment, subcontractors, and independent contractors. However, these employees can elect to get coverage if they wish to help pay for the costs associated with an on-the-job injury or illness. 

In the state of Tennessee, workers’ comp coverage must be provided by the employer. It is illegal for employers to require their employees to pay any portion of the company’s workers’ comp premiums. 

What Does Workers’ Compensation Insurance Cover in Tennessee?

In the event of a workplace injury or illness, Tennessee workers’ comp insurance provides two types of benefits — medical benefits and partial wage replacement. 

Medical benefits include no-cost medical treatment, so long as the employee is treated by an authorized treating physician. This includes emergency care, travel reimbursement for medical treatment, medications, surgical treatment and supplies, nursing or psychological services, prescription eyeglass/eyewear, hospitalization, and dental work.

Partial wage replacement benefits include temporary disability benefits, permanent disability benefits, and death benefits. 

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

Because the effects of not having workers’ comp coverage are lasting and impact more than just the employer, the state of Tennessee takes workers’ comp coverage compliance seriously. As a result, not having coverage when you’re legally required to do so can result in serious penalties, such as: 

  • 25% penalty for failure to pay or to timely pay temporary disability benefits   
  • Penalty of up to $10,000 or more for failure to timely comply with a Specialist’s or Administrator’s Designee’s order
  • Penalty of $1,000.00 per day in the event of a failure to comply with an Order 21 days after its receipt 
  • Other various financial and civil penalties.

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

What Types of Injuries Are Covered by Tennessee Workers’ Comp?

Tennessee state law outlines specifically which types of injuries are covered by workers’ comp insurance in the state. 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 Tennessee?

According to Tennessee state law, if a death occurs as a result of a workplace injury, surviving dependents will receive wage replacement benefits such as: 

  • 50% of the worker’s average weekly wage paid to a surviving spouse with no dependent children, subject to the maximum weekly benefit as allowed by law
  • 66 ⅔% of the worker’s average weekly wage paid to a surviving spouse with one or more dependent children
  • $20,000 paid to the deceased worker’s estate if there are no surviving dependents

In addition, death benefits include burial expenses of up to $10,000 for deaths occurring on or after May 19, 2017. For deaths occurring prior to May 19, 2017, death benefit amounts are not to exceed $7,500.

How Do Workers’ Comp Settlements Work in Tennessee? 

As in other states, workers’ comp settlements in Tennessee are mutually beneficial agreements made between the injured worker, their employer, and the insurance company. 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. In Tennessee, a settlement must be approved by a judge to ensure it is in line with the benefits that are to be provided by the Tennessee Workers’ Compensation Law and that the settlement is in the employee’s best interest. 

What Is the Statute of Limitations Regarding Workers’ Comp in Tennessee? 

In Tennessee, employees must file their workers’ comp claim within one year from the date of the injury or discovery of the illness. 

Injured employees should immediately report any work-related accident, injury, or illness to their employer and are required by law to report, preferably in writing, their injury or illness within 15 calendar days. 

How Much Does Workers’ Compensation Insurance Cost in Tennessee?

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

For Tennessee 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 circumstances unique to each business. For example, if your business is considered low-risk, like accounting, your rates might be lower than those of businesses that are considered high-risk, like oil and gas. 

Many Factors Are Used to Determine 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

Looking to help lower your insurance premiums? Luckily, there are some preventative steps that might be able to help. Insurance providers often 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 Tennessee Business?

Business owners in Tennessee that are seeking workers’ comp coverage 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, whether because they are high risk or because they have too many past claims, can get coverage through the state’s assigned risk program, which is administered by the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI). This is often referred to as a provider of last resort. 

In addition, Tennessee businesses can opt to self-insure if they meet certain financial requirements. Self-insurance requires the business to be held financially responsible for the cost of all claims and related 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. 

Where Can I Get Workers’ Compensation For My Tennessee Business?

We offer workers’ compensation to businesses no matter where you are in Tennessee. If you are located in East Tennessee, Middle Tennessee, or West Tennessee, we’ll help you protect your Tennessee employees.

If you need workers’ comp coverage for your Tennessee business, you can purchase a policy through any private insurance company, agent, or broker that is licensed to operate in the state. So even if you aren’t in any of the following cities, know that we can still help you:

  • Nashville
  • Memphis
  • Knoxville
  • Chattanooga

Luckily for Tennessee businesses, getting workers’ comp insurance coverage is easier than ever when with the right private insurance provider. Cerity is home to a faster, more affordable way to get workers’ comp. Every day we help Tennessee business owners like yourself get insurance premium quotes fast — without phone calls or paperwork. Using proprietary tools and modern technology, we provide business owners with quick quotes and instant policies. 

Visit our free online quote tool and see how easy it is to protect your Tennessee business today.

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The information provided is intended to provide a general overview. This information is not legal advice and should not be relied on as such. Cerity® makes no warranties for the accuracy, adequacy, or completeness of the information provided, and will not be responsible for any actions taken based on the information contained herein. If you have legal questions or need legal advice, please consult an attorney.