Workers Compensation Insurance in Monopolistic States

Buying Insurance in Ohio, Wyoming, Washington, and North Dakota

Ohio, Wyoming, Washington, and North Dakota prohibit the sale of workers compensation insurance by private insurers. They are collectively called the monopolistic states because they require employers to purchase workers compensation coverage from a government-operated insurance fund.

Nevada and West Virginia were monopolistic states in the past but 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 in 2008. 

Monopolistic Versus Competitive Funds

Workers compensation insurance funds exist in many states but most are competitive enterprises that vie for business with private insurers. Some funds serve multiple purposes. For instance, the State Compensation Insurance Fund (of California) and the New York State Insurance Fund are competitive funds that also administer their state's assigned risk plan.

Unlike a competitive fund, a monopolistic state fund is the sole source of workers compensation insurance in the state. It has no competitors because private insurance is not permitted.

Separate Policy Required

If a  business employs workers in multiple states, one of which is a monopolistic state, the workers employed in the monopolistic state must be insured under a separate policy purchased from the state bureau. They cannot be insured in under a multi-state workers compensation policy.

Stop Gap Coverage

In monopolistic states, employers liability coverage is not included in workers compensation policies. Instead, it is covered via an endorsement attached to a general liability policy. When included in a liability policy, employers liability insurance is often called stop-gap coverage.

Coverage in Ohio

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In Ohio, any business with one or more employees must purchase workers compensation insurance from the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation (BWC). Employers can apply for a policy by completing an electronic application at the BWCs website or mailing a hard copy to the Bureau.

The BWC determines the rates charged to employers for workers compensation insurance. It classifies employers using the NCCI classification system. All employers that meet certain qualifications are entered into the state's experience rating plan. The BWC calculates each employer's experience modifier.

The BWC offers discount plans such as group experience rating, retrospective rating, and a deductible plan. These plans encourage employers to focus on safety, efficiency, cost control, and return-to-work.

Ohio permits employers to self-insure their workers compensation obligations if they meet certain eligibility requirements. For instance, employers must be financially stable and have a least two years' experience with the state fund.

Coverage in Wyoming

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Businesses that employ workers in Wyoming must purchase workers compensation insurance from the Workers Compensation Division of the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services (DWS). Businesses must register with the DWS before buying a policy.

Wyoming classifies workers using the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), which is based on six-digit codes.  The DWS assigns each employer the appropriate NAICS classifications. The agency lists base rates on its website. The DWS calculates experience modifiers for all employers eligible for experience rating.

The DWS does not permit self-insurance. However, it does offer a deductible program for employers that meet its requirements. Deductibles range from $1,000 to $100,000.

Coverage in Washington

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Businesses that employ any workers in the state of Washington must purchase workers compensation insurance from the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I). Besides selling insurance, the L&I oversees Washington's OSHA-approved occupational and safety program.

All new businesses that operate in Washington must obtain a business license from the L&I and create a workers compensation account. The L&I reviews the employer's application and determines the appropriate classifications. Washington utilizes its own classification system based on four-digit codes. Rates are posted on the L&I's website. If an employer is subject to experience rating, L&I calculates the applicable experience modifier.

Washington does not offer a workers compensation deductible program. It does permit self-insurance if an employer has at least $25 million in assets and meet other requirements.

Coverage in North Dakota

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North Dakota Workforce Safety and Insurance (WSI) is the provider and administrator of workers compensation insurance in North Dakota. Businesses must purchase insurance if they employ any individuals to work in the state or have employees working at a business located there. 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 classifies workers using North Dakota's classification system, which is based on four-digit codes. Classifications and rates are posted on the WSI's website. Employers are subject to experience rating if they meet a certain premium threshold. Employers ineligible for experience rating are enrolled in the state's small account debit/credit program. The WSI does not permit self-insurance but it  does offer a large deductible plan.

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.