Buying workers’ compensation for:


State Fund: Yes, Exclusive.

Insurance Coverage Requirements: Workers’ Compensation is compulsory in Washington, waivers are not permitted.

Who is Required to Purchase Workers’ Compensation Coverage?

All employers with one or more employees must have coverage with some exceptions. All farm workers must be covered by workers’ compensation insurance, except children under 18 years of age employed by his/her parents.

The following are some employments which are not included within the mandatory coverage requirement:

  • Any person employed as a domestic servant in a private home by an employer who has less than two employees regularly employed forty or more hours a week in such employment.
  • Any person employed to do gardening, maintenance, or repair, in or about the private home of the employer.
  • A person whose employment is not in the course of the trade, business, or profession of his or her employer and is not in or about the private home of the employer.
  • Any person performing services in return for aid or sustenance only, received from any religious or charitable organization.
  • Sole proprietors or partners.
  • Any child under 18 years of age employed by his or her parent or parents in agricultural activities on the family farm.
  • Jockeys
  • An officer of a corporation voluntarily elected or voluntarily appointed in accordance with the articles of incorporation or bylaws of the corporation, who at all times during the period involved is also a bona fide director, and who is also a shareholder of the corporation. Only such officers who exercise substantial control in the daily management of the corporation and whose primary responsibilities do not include the performance of manual labor are included within this subsection. A corporation may elect to cover officers who are exempted.
  • A musician or entertainer under a contract with a purchaser of the services, for a specific engagement or engagements when such musician or entertainer performs no other duties for the purchaser and is not regularly and continuously employed by the purchaser.
  • A newspaper carrier selling or distributing newspapers on the street or from house to house.
  • An insurance agent, insurance broker, or insurance solicitor.
  • Members of a limited liability company, under certain conditions

Factors that Impact Coverage

  • You are an existing business hiring its first employees: You’ll need to re-file your Business License Application with the state of Washington. Once you’ve filed your business license, the Department of Employment Security will set up your state unemployment tax account, and the Department of Labor & Industries creates your workers’ compensation account and obtains your minor work permit, if applicable.
  • You are a sole proprietor or partner: In Washington, you are excluded from the policy but have the option to purchase Elective Coverage for yourself.
  • You are a corporate officer or member of an LLC: You have the option to purchase Elective Coverage for yourself in Washington, but you may exclude yourself if you meet all of the following criteria:
    • A bona fide corporate officer who also is on the board of directors and a shareholder, being elected according to the corporation’s bylaws and articles of incorporation
    • Have substantial control in daily management of the corporation
    • Primary duties do not include manual labor

Failure to Secure Compensation

An Employer or a president, vice-president, secretary, treasurer, or other officer of any company to cause or permit the company to engage in business without certificate of coverage is guilty of a gross misdemeanor:

It is a class C felony for any employer or the president, vice-president, secretary, treasurer, or other officer of any company to cause or permit the company to engage in business after the employer’s certificate of coverage has been revoked by order of the department;

The employer may be liable if an injury or occupational disease has been sustained by a worker prior to the time he or she has secured the payment of compensation to a penalty in a sum not less than 50% nor more than 100% of the cost for such injury or occupational disease.

Any employer who has failed to secure payment of compensation for his or her workers may also be liable to a maximum penalty in a sum of $500 or in a sum double the amount of premiums incurred prior to securing payment of compensation, whichever is greater, for the benefit of the medical aid fund.

Proof of Coverage is Required

Any employer other than a self-insurer must apply for and obtain from the department a certificate of coverage. In case the employer maintains more than one place of business, a separate certificate of coverage for each place at which business is transacted is required. Each certificate must be numbered and show the name, residence, and place and character of business of the employer and such other information as the department deems necessary and must be posted conspicuously at the place of business for which it is issued.

Self-insured employers must display this poster where workers can see it.

Independent Contractors

Mistakenly classifying an employee as an independent contractor can result in significant fines and penalties.

View 20 factors used by the IRS and our independent contractor questionnaire to determine whether you have enough control over a worker to be an employer.

Key Resources

Other Tips

If your insured employs workers in multiple states or your insured’s employees are temporarily working out-of-state, they need to purchase insurance for all the states where their workers are located, according to each state’s laws. Call 1-800-476-2948 and let us walk you through it.

The nature of your insured’s business, number of employees being covered and past coverage and claims are all factors in how much their premium will cost.