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Workers’ Compensation for Building Design Professionals

Workers' Compensation Insurance for Building Design Professionals

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What is Workers’ Compensation Insurance for building design professionals?

Workers’ Compensation Insurance, commonly known as Workers’ Comp, is a form of liability insurance that provides funds for employees who suffer work-related injuries or illnesses. Workers’ Comp helps to cover medical expenses and lost wages associated with these injuries.


In exchange for accepting Workers’ Compensation benefits, an injured employee agrees not to sue your business for the injury. Workers’ Compensation Insurance is no-fault, which means that it pays benefits regardless of whether the employer or employee is at fault for the injury.

What does Workers’ Compensation Insurance for building design professionals cover?

Workers’ Compensation Insurance covers employees at your building design firm, which includes workers who are not U.S. citizens as well as minors, who suffer a work-related injury or illness.

A work-related injury is an injury that is related to a worker’s job duties, which includes most injuries that occur while an employee is working. The range of injuries and illnesses covered is broad and may include accidents from slipping and falling at your own offices to exposure to toxic chemicals on a job site. Each state regulates the kinds of illnesses or injuries that Workers’ Compensation Insurance covers, so coverage may vary from state to state.

Injuries that occur on a job site, client site, or outside of your office are covered. Injuries that occur while traveling for work reasons, such as driving from the office to a client site or driving between work sites are also covered, even if driving a personal vehicle.

Note that there are illnesses or injuries where coverage is not required by the states. For these illnesses or injuries, employees may still sue your company. Workers’ Compensation Insurance will cover legal defense costs and damages from these illnesses or injuries which are not defined in state workers’ compensation regulations. This coverage is also known as employers’ liability insurance, and is often referred to as “Part 2” or “Part B” of Workers’ Compensation Insurance.

What are the key exclusions of Workers’ Compensation Insurance for building design professionals?

Injuries suffered in the following situations would not be covered by Workers’ Compensation:


What does Workers’ Compensation Insurance for building design professionals pay for?


In the event of injury at work, Worker’s Compensation will pay for:


Most states require that benefits be paid for the duration of the disability. Some states specify a maximum number of weeks for the lost wages to be paid, especially for temporary disabilities.


In the event of death at work, Workers’ Compensation Insurance will pay for:

Death benefits for surviving relatives are based upon an employee’s weekly wages. The benefit is a portion (commonly two-thirds but it varies by state) of the worker’s wage at the time of death. Rules vary by state, but for a surviving spouse, the benefit may be paid until their own death or remarriage. For children, the benefits may be paid until the children reach age 18.

Is Workers’ Compensation Insurance required for building design professionals?

Workers’ Compensation insurance requirements vary by state. In most, coverage is not required until a business has employees who are not owners or partners in the business.

As a building design firm, you may find that many of your potential clients will require that you are covered by Workers’ Compensation Insurance. If your business hires contractors, you should require proof of Workers’ Compensation Insurance from all of your subcontractors in order to avoid any unintended liability. You may be legally liable for the injuries of your contractors if they are injured while doing work for your company.


How do states regulate Workers’ Compensation Insurance?

Workers’ Compensation Insurance is regulated by each individual state, and each state has slightly different regulations and requirements for employers and insurance companies. The states determine:

States also have different regulations for providers of Workers’ Compensation Insurance. States generally have one of three systems:

How much does Workers’ Compensation Insurance cost for building design professionals?

Pricing for Workers’ Compensation Insurance is based upon a number of factors, including:

Workers’ Comp premiums are usually quoted as a rate per $100 of payroll, and the range of premiums varies widely. Generally speaking though, you can assume that lower risk industries and professions, such as an architect or engineer, will pay significantly less than higher risk professions, like a roofer or construction worker.

For all but the smallest businesses, insurance companies apply an adjustment to premiums called the experience rating. This rating is based on the claims history of a business compared with other businesses with the same industry classification. The higher your experience rating, the higher your workers’ compensation premiums will be.

The experience rating is weighted towards the frequency of claims over the severity of claims. Thus, if you have many smaller claims, you’ll have a higher experience rating than a company with only a single large claim. Insurance companies believe that a high number of small claims is a marker that a company will face larger claims in the future, so they raise premiums for businesses with many claims.

The best way to control your workers’ compensation costs is to create a work environment that is safe for your employees. By reducing workplace safety risks, you’ll reduce the number of workers’ compensation claims and also reduce your premiums.

Final Word

Workers’ Compensation covers the medical expenses and lost wages of employees who have been injured or fallen ill on the job, no matter who was at fault. Pricing for Workers’ Compensation depends on the business location, number of employees, dollar amount of payroll, claims history, and the nature of the business. Industries in which employees face more physical risks and hazards, such as construction, will pay a higher premium for Workers’ Compensation than architects, engineers, and other building design professionals that mainly work from a desk. Since building design professionals do face the typical hazards of business as well as hazards on visits to job sites, Workers’ Compensation will provide coverage for the risks of employee injuries that leave them unable to work.

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