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Is Workers' Comp Required in California?

California Workers' Compensation Requirements

    California requires all employers to buy workers' comp in the state regardless of the number of employees they have.

    Sole-Proprietors are not automatically included for coverage under a workers' comp policy. They can elect to be included. Owners must elect to be included on the Acord 130 application in order to be valid.

    Partners are automatically included for coverage. They can't elect to be exempt from coverage.

    Corporate Officers who are the sole shareholder are excluded from coverage, but they may elect coverage. Officers of other corporations are automatically included for coverage and can't be excluded or exempt. Certain Officers who own more than 15% of the business can opt out of coverage if they meet certain requirements.

    All LLC Members who work in the business are included under coverage in California. However, non-working LLC Members are excluded from coverage unless the elect to be covered on the Acord and listed on the policy.

    The California State Insurance Fund is managed by SCIF- California State Compensation Insurance Fund.

Workers' Comp Exemptions in California

    California can be a very confusing state when it comes to properly documenting the inclusion and exclusion of business owners. Insurance carriers utilize their own forms to properly document how owners are treated under the policy. Incorrect documentation can lead to audit issues if this process is not managed carefully.

    Sole-Proprietors who include themselves on workers' compensation coverage must use a minimum payroll amount of $59,800 and a maximum of $154,700 for rating their overall workers' compensation cost.

    Partners, Officers and LLC Members who are not excluded from coverage must also utilize a minimum payroll of $59,800 and a maximum of $154,700 in order to calculate the cost of workers' comp insurance.

CA Workers' Comp Verification

    The state of California provides a free online tool for verifying workers' compensation insurance coverage. Anyone can search by business name or FEIN. The results will only show the business name and policy number for employers who have coverage in the state being searched. The information is managed by WCIRB California.

    workers' compensation verification tool

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How is Workers' Comp Calculated?

Workers' compensation is a commercial insurance product categorized as Property & Casualty insurance (P&C Insurance). Even though workers' comp is calculated using estimated payroll wages and class codes, premium is still a separate business expense from the cost of payroll. California Employers may treat the cost of coverage as an expense on their taxes.

Work comp rates for all job classification codes are always expressed as a percentage of $100 in wages. An annual policy is always subject to an audit because it was based on estimated wages and not actual wages.

Here is an example using two class codes with different estimated payroll for each class code:

Class Code Insurance Companies Rate Per $100 Estimated Annual Payroll Divide Payroll by 100
8810 Clerical $0.28 base manual rate $25,000  (25000 divided by 100) 250
8835 Home Health Care $1.75 base manual rate $100,000  (100000 divided by 100) 1000

In order to calculate the cost of the policy you only need to multiply each rate with its divided payroll. It benefits employers to re-calculate their premium as their payroll becomes larger than originally anticipated.

Class Code Workers' Comp Calculator Estimated Premium
8810 Clerical $0.28 X 250 $70.00
8835 Home Health Care $1.75 X 1000 $1,750.00

* Additional premium costs may also include an expenses constant, terrorism charges, catastrophe charges and other state surcharges such as a second injury fund or other state assessment fees.

California Workers' Compensation Insurance

Every state has their own laws to determine how employees must be covered and how they must be classified for rating premium. A lot of states use state specific class codes and have different requirements for who is obligated to carry workers' compensation insurance.

If you have employees that travel out of state for work, or they work in multiple states throughout the year, you may need to buy a policy for each of the states where your employees are located and working. In most cases, you can cover multiple states on one policy.

Workers' Compensation Insurance in California can be purchased from private insurance companies authorized by the state to provide coverage. The Assigned Risk Pool, or an alternate State Insurance Fund, is available for businesses that are unable to find coverage from a private company. Our specialists help will help you navigate your best options.

Policy premium is based on numerous factors including: class codes assigned to your business and employees, estimated payroll, covered states, prior policies, owner experience and previous workers compensation claims.

See California workers' comp insurance laws

What Does California Workers' Comp Cover?

California workers' compensation insurance helps pay claim expenses when an employee, or a covered sub-contractor, is injured while working for your business. It also shields your business from other legal liabilities associated with an injured employee. Work comp coverage includes:

Medical Costs

Workers' comp insurance pays for the medical expenses associated with claims or injured workers. The cost of an ER visit, required surgeries and drug prescriptions are some of the covered expenses included under a policy. An employee injured due to a slip and fall would be covered, for example. Coverage for medical benefits can also include longer term expenses such as physical therapy or rehabilitation.

Employee Wages- Income Benefits

Most business owners can't afford to continue paying employees if they are unable to work while they are injured. Workers' comp income benefits in California will replace most of your employees missing income if they are away from work due to an injury or illness. For example, if a construction employee broke his arm and could not perform the job for 8 weeks, the coverage would make payments to the employee to help replace the lost wages.

Short-Term and Long-Term Disabilities

Sometimes an injury can cause a partial disability or a more permanent disability. Workers' compensation steps in to help pay the cost of ongoing medical bills and may even replace a portion of wages lost due to the disability. If an employee had a finger amputated due to a work related injury. The employee could be paid a sum (known as an Impairment Rating) for the loss of the finger for permanent disability as well as some temporary disability coverage while recuperating.

Occupational Illness

Some types of work environments can include occupational exposures that have unforeseen circumstances. A chemical mixing operation, for example, may expose employees to chemical irritants and cause harmful reactions that make them sick. A workers' comp policy would cover the cost of treating an illness caused while performing the job.

Funeral Expenses

Nearly 50,000 deaths happen at work each year. Many of these are in the construction and trucking industries. A workers' compensation policy is designed to cover the cost of these funerals and to provide death benefits to the employees family. State guidelines often determine the dollar amount of coverage.

Workers' compensation coverage is a No-Fault system designed to prevent costly employee lawsuits related to on-the-job-injuries. Many state provisions include Exclusive Remedy rules that protect covered businesses from these lawsuits in exchange for providing workers' comp coverage for their employees. Claims should be reported to a supervisor with 30 days. Employers should also report any claims or accidents to their insurance company within 30 days from notification.

How Does Workers' Comp Work?

Workers' comp insurance covers business costs associated with injured employees and from legal liability.
Workers' comp coverage protects employees when injured. It makes good financial sense for both parties.
Injuries and accidents happen. A workers' comp policy is a no-fault system that pays for these accidents and claims. It's required by law in most states.
  • Lost income for workers who can't perform job duties
  • Medical expenses for injury or illness on the job
  • Retraining expenses for employees unable to return
  • Permanent injury or disability for lasting injuries
  • Survivor benefits if employees are killed on the job
Coverage does not protect employers from everything. Sometimes employees and employers can be negligent.
Workers' comp does not cover negligence or injuries caused when breaking the law.
In some instances, workers' compensation coverage will not protect employers or employees from the legal liability resulting from a workplace injury.
  • Injuries resulting from a violation of the law
  • Accidents resulting from using drugs or alcohol
  • Injuries that did not occur in connection with the job
  • Clear company policy violations
  • Injuries that did not occur in connection with the job

Enjoy the benefits of our Pay As You Go Workers' Comp Options in California.

$O Deposit or Minimum Down

We've developed Pay As You Go workers' compensation programs that reduce or eliminate premium deposits and allow California employers to report and pay premium based on actual payroll wages. Protect your business from audits today.

More Payments Options

We've negotiated special terms with many of our insurance partners to offer more flexible payment plans like 12 equal installments plans and monthly reporting programs to help improve cash flow for our business owners.

Easier to Qualify for Coverage

We offer workers' compensation quotes from over 35 insurance carriers writing insurance in CA, making us your best option for lower workers' compensation rates, and good quotes for tougher workers' comp class codes in California.

Get Better California Workers' Compensation Quotes

CA Workers' Comp Specialists

At Workers' Compensation Shop, we're a little old fashioned. We still believe insurance is a relationship business. Sure, our technology is amazing, but trust is even more important to us. We consult and arm our customers with work comp knowledge. Then we advocate on your behalf to shop coverage for you.

Help with CA Class Codes

California does not utilize NCCI for managing and developing workers' comp rates. Instead, California utilizes its own system and rating bureau: Workers' Compensation Rating Bureau of California. Our licensed Specialists can help employers navigate and understand California classification codes and more.

Fast Workers' Comp Quotes

We make the process of getting workers' comp quotes fast and easy. We know your time is valuable. That's why we work hard to streamline the quote process, compare your rates, and present your best options as quickly as possible. Get workers' compensation quote options back in 24 hours or less.

Compare Rates With More Carriers

Why go it alone? We're a National Agency, and we have tons of carriers offering work comp in California. We have access to over 35 insurance companies with a diverse appetite and competitive rates. Our markets know we expect the lowest rates, bigger discounts, and more policy credits when we request a quote.

Don't Wait for Your California Rates to Increase


Did you know that the cost of a workers' comp policy in California can vary significantly between insurance company, underwriter, and insurance agency?
Find the best deal on workers compensation insurance.
Visit NCCI for more resources and information about workers' compensation class codes. Visit United States Department of Labor for more information about government agencies managing workers compensation insurance rates.

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