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Workers' Compensation for Wisconsin Businesses

What are the legal requirements for workers’ compensation insurance in Wisconsin?

According to Wisconsin.gov:

“All employees working for an employer (other than farmers) with three or more workers are protected immediately by the Wisconsin Worker’s Compensation Act. Employers with fewer than three workers come under the law if they pay wages of $500 or more in any quarter of a calendar year. Their workers are covered 10 days after the end of that quarter. Farm workers are covered if the farm employer has six or more employees on 20 or more days in a calendar year.

Nearly all workers in Wisconsin are covered. This includes both public and private employers. Nearly all private and public employees in Wisconsin are covered under the Act, including employees who are family members (except for farmers in some cases), minors, part-time employees and corporate officers.

There are a few classes of workers who are covered by federal laws and are not covered by the Act. Employees of the federal government (such as postal workers, employees at a veteran’s administration hospital, or members of the armed forces) are covered by federal laws. People who work on interstate railroads are covered by the Federal Employers Liability Act. Seamen on navigable waters are covered by the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, and people loading and unloading vessels are covered by the Longshoremen’s and Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act.

The only employee exceptions to the Act’s insurance requirement are: (1) domestic servants, (2) any person whose employment is not in the trade, business, profession or occupation of the employer, (3) some farm employees, (4) volunteers, including volunteers of non-profit organizations that receive money or other things of value totaling not more than $10.00 per week, (5) religious sect members that qualify and are certified for an exemption, (6) employees of Native American tribal enterprises (including casinos), unless the tribe elects to waive its sovereign immunity and voluntarily become subject to the Act. Virtually all other workers and employers are subject to the Act.”

What does workers’ comp insurance cover in Wisconsin?

In the event of a workplace accident, workers’ comp insurance provides both medical coverage and payments for lost wages and permanent disabilities. This can include temporary or permanent benefits.

Temporary workers’ comp benefits refer to the scenarios of when your employee is unable to work for more than one week, your worker is able to receive compensation for the lost wages, which are called “lost time benefits.” Your employee’s doctor must certify your employee is not able to work.

Lost time benefits are 2/3 of your employee’s monthly income and determined by your 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 your employee’s doctor is actively treating you. When your employee’s doctor determines that your team member is able to return to work, your employee will receive a letter from the insurance company called a Notice of Claim Status, which clarifies that the doctor said you can officially work again.

If your 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, your employee can continue to get time lost benefits, which will be two-thirds of the difference in their earnings.

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

Wisconsin Statistics*

*2017 business stats provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics

1.2 million

number of Wisconsin residents employed by small businesses


71,900

number of workplace injuries


1,007,123

barrels of craft beer produced annually


531,899

acres of state parks & forests


16,692

lakes


Wisconsin Businesses We Cover with Workers' Comp Insurance

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.