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Workers’ Compensation Insurance in Tennessee

Workers' Compensation Insurance in Tennessee

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If your business has employees in the state of Tennessee, you’ll need to make sure you adhere to Tennessee’s Workers’ Compensation Insurance laws. Workers’ Compensation provides medical and financial benefits for employees who suffer work-related injuries or illnesses or for their survivors in the case of an employee death.

Who needs Workers’ Compensation Insurance in Tennessee?

In Tennessee, any employer with five or more full- or part-time employees must obtain Workers’ Compensation Insurance. However, in the construction and mining industry, employers must obtain Workers’ Compensation Insurance if there is even one employee. In Tennessee, an “employee” is generally defined as any individual who is in the service of an employer under any contract (written or implied) of hire or apprenticeship. 

The Tennessee Workers’ Compensation Act (WCA) defines all of the requirements for Workers’ Comp in Tennessee, and the Tennessee Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) monitors, enforces, and administers the program. Ensuring your company is in compliance is critical, as there are serious penalties and fines for those who fail to abide by state regulations.

What employees are covered under Workers’ Compensation in Tennessee?

Almost all workers are covered under Workers’ Compensation in Tennessee. If you provide work or services for an employer, and you are not an independent contractor, you will likely be eligible for Workers’ Compensation Insurance.

The following are categories of employees that are eligible for Workers’ Comp coverage:

The following are categories of employees that are generally excluded from Workers’ Comp coverage:

What Workers’ Compensation benefits do employees receive?

Under Workers’ Compensation in Tennessee, employers are required to provide the following benefits to employees who are injured in the course of employment:

Medical Benefits

Temporary Total Disability Benefits

Temporary Partial Disability Benefits

Permanent Partial Disability Benefits

Permanent Total Disability Benefits

Death Benefits

What are the penalties for breaking Tennessee Workers’ Compensation laws?

Failure to adhere to the Workers’ Compensation laws set out by the WCA can result in significant fines and even imprisonment. In order to avoid any costly penalties, it’s important to consult the WCA or your insurer to ensure you are in compliance. Below are the major ways in which companies can be penalized:

Failure to Maintain Coverage

Failure to Pay Benefits and Medical Expenses 

Failure to Report and Notify


Failure to Provide a Medical Panel

How much does Workers’ Compensation Insurance cost in Tennessee?

According to the National Academy of Social Insurance Workers’ Compensation Report (November 2020), the average employer cost for Workers’ Compensation in Tennessee was $0.81 per $100 of covered wages. This figure is estimated across all insurers and all industries, so the cost to your particular business may vary.

How does the Workers’ Compensation claims process work in Tennessee?

An employee has 15 days to report a work-related injury through a written notice. Work-related illnesses should be reported within 30 days of experiencing symptoms. If an injury or illness is reported too late, adjustments may be made to protect the employer’s rights, which may include denial of the claim.

Employers must accept the report and notify their insurer within one day of receiving notice from the injured employee. The employer is required to provide a medical panel with at least three physicians within three days of receiving notice. Employers are required to pay disability benefits within 15 days after receiving notice of the injured employee’s disability.

If there are any doubts about the claim, the employer can work with the adjuster to investigate and they have 15 days to deny a claim. An employee has one year to dispute a denial. In the event of a disputed claim, mediation must take place and either a Settlement Agreement or a Dispute Certification Notice is formed. With a Dispute Certification Notice, a hearing can be requested.  

Tennessee Workers’ Compensation Insurance Resources

For more information on Tennessee Workers’ Compensation laws and requirements, please visit the following resources:

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