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Civil Penalty When Uninsured for Workers’ Compensation

Will Significantly Increase Effective July 1, 2014

—Uninsured employers shall be assessed a civil penalty, subject to a maximum of $250 per day of noncompliance and subject to a maximum civil penalty of $50,000.—


The 2014 General Assembly approved an increase in the civil penalty imposed when an employer required to insure under the Workers’ Compensation Act fails to insure. An employer is required by state law to insure in Virginia when they regularly employ more than two part-time (or full-time) employees. A business that hires subcontractors or other business to assist them in their trade or to fulfill a contract must count the subcontractor’s employees as well as their own employees in determining total employees for coverage requirements. For a contractor whose work varies, the Commission looks to the "established mode" of performing work. A contractor that hires one or more subcontractors with employees to accomplish their business is required to carry workers’ compensation insurance.

Workers’ compensation coverage requirements are complex, but focus on the number of employees. It is important to be aware that an "employee" is defined broadly under the Act and includes every person in the service of another under any contract of hire, written or implied. "Employee" includes statutory employees (subcontractor’s employees), corporate officers, minors, undocumented workers, working family members, apprentices, temporary and seasonal employees. A business that doesn’t count all of its employees may not realize it is required to carry coverage.

Employers should also be aware, designating a worker as an "independent contractor" does not necessarily mean they are not an employee. Workers’ compensation looks to whether the business exerts control over the manner and means of how the work is performed. In the event of a claim, the facts of the work circumstances will determine if the individual is covered for workers’ compensation, regardless of payment on a 1099 designation.

The Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission encourages employers to check their coverage, avoid coverage gaps, urges uninsured employers and new businesses to familiarize themselves with workers’ compensation insurance coverage requirements, obtain coverage when required, be compliant and avoid a penalty. Workers’ compensation is mandatory coverage. It is required by state law, and no other form of insurance may substitute. Failure to have coverage due to lack of knowledge is not a valid excuse for failure to insure.

The law change amends section 65.2-805 of the Workers’ Compensation Act which addresses the civil penalty for employer failure to insure. Such employer shall be assessed a civil penalty of not more than $250 per day for each day of noncompliance, subject to a maximum penalty of $50,000, plus collection costs. The amendment was approved March 7, 2014 and will be effective on July 1, 2014.

This notice provides only a summary of workers’ compensation coverage requirements and the law change and is not intended to be a substitute for or to be considered legal advice. Workers’ compensation information is available at: For specific coverage questions, please contact the Insurance Department of the Commission by e-mail at or by phone at (804) 205-3586.


Employers have a legal responsibility to their employees to make the workplace safe. However, accidents happen even when every reasonable safety measure has been taken.

To protect employers from lawsuits resulting from workplace accidents and to provide medical care and compensation for lost income to employees hurt in workplace accidents, in almost every state, businesses are required to buy workers compensation insurance. Workers compensation insurance covers workers injured on the job, whether they're hurt on the workplace premises or elsewhere, or in auto accidents while on business. It also covers work-related illnesses.

Workers compensation provides payments to injured workers, without regard to who was at fault in the accident, for time lost from work and for medical and rehabilitation services. It also provides death benefits to surviving spouses and dependents.

Each state has different laws governing the amount and duration of lost income benefits, the provision of medical and rehabilitation services and how the system is administered. For example, in most states there are regulations that cover whether the worker or employer can choose the doctor who treats the injuries and how disputes about benefits are resolved.

Workers compensation insurance must be bought as a separate policy. Although in-home business and business owners policies (BOPs) are sold as package policies, they don't include coverage for workers' injuries.

What states are we licensed to advise you on your workers compensation policy?

We are located in the state of Virginia and review and advise many companies on their Virginia Workers Compensation Policy. However, we are also licensed in Maryland, West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina and can review and advise companies in Maryland on their Maryland Workers Compensation policies and companies in West Virginia on their West Virginia Workers Compensation policies.

What are the benefits of having us review your workers compensation program?

It has been estimated that as many as 80% of all workers compensation policies have some type of error on them.

We will look at your loss history and claims to make sure that the experience modification factor from the National Council on Compensation Insurance has been calculated correctly. There are also many mistakes made at audit on both workers classifications and payroll determination and what is and is not to be included in the final payroll number used to calculate your final premium. There are many dangers and unfortunate problems that arise from all of these mistakes and you could pay for those mistakes for years.

We will search dozens of insurance companies to get you absolutely the best rate. Many companies have specialty programs that your current agent may not know about or have access to. So why take the chance on losing precious profit dollars in this economy?

Useful Workers Compensation Links

Virginia Workers Compensation Commission

Maryland Workers Compensation Commission

West Virginia Workers Compensation Information