Buying workers’ compensation for:


State Fund: No

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

Who is Required to Purchase Workers’ Compensation Coverage?

Nearly all workers in Wisconsin are covered. This includes both public and private employers. Nearly all private and public employees in Wisconsin are covered under the Act, including employees who are family members (except for farmers in some cases), minors, part-time employees and corporate officers.

  • Employers who employ three or more workers on a full-time or part-time basis must have insurance.
  • Employers who employ one or more workers on a full-time or part-time basis and who pay gross, combined wages of $500 or more in any calendar quarter for work done in Wisconsin must have insurance by the 10th day of the first month of the next calendar quarter.
  • Farmers who employ six or more workers on any 20 days during a calendar year must have insurance 10 days after the 20th day of employment.Even out-of-state employers with employees working in Wisconsin must have a worker’s compensation policy with an insurance company licensed to write worker’s compensation insurance in Wisconsin. If an out-of-state employer has a worker’s compensation insurance policy with an insurance company not licensed to write in Wisconsin, they must obtain a policy from a Wisconsin licensed insurance company.

Sole proprietors and partners are not considered or counted as employees. Generally, policies exclude the sole proprietor or partners unless they are specifically endorsed to include them. Sole proprietors and partners may voluntarily purchase insurance to cover their own work-related injuries and illnesses.

Corporate officers are employees. Generally, policies covering corporations include corporate officers. In closely held corporations with not more than 10 stockholders, no more than 2 officers can be excluded from insurance coverage. If the corporation has other employees and/or officers, a policy is required and the election must be made by endorsement on the worker’s compensation policy. Officers who have made this election will still be counted in determining whether the employer is subject to the Worker’s Compensation Act. If a closely held corporation has no more than 2 corporate officers and has no other employees, a worker’s compensation policy is not required if both officers elect not to be subject to the Worker’s Compensation Act. This election can be completed by filing a Corporate Officer Option Notice with the Department.

There are a few classes of workers who are covered by federal laws and are not covered by the Act. Employees of the federal government (such as postal workers, employees at a veteran’s administration hospital, or members of the armed forces) are covered by federal laws. People who work on interstate railroads are covered by the Federal Employers Liability Act. Seamen on navigable waters are covered by the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, and people loading and unloading vessels are covered by the Longshoremen’s and Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act.

The only employee exceptions to the Act’s insurance requirement are: (1) domestic servants, (2) any person whose employment is not in the trade, business, profession or occupation of the employer, (3) some farm employees, (4) volunteers, including volunteers of non-profit organizations that receive money or other things of value totaling not more than $10.00 per week, (5) religious sect members that qualify and are certified for an exemption, (6) employees of Native American tribal enterprises (including casinos), unless the tribe elects to waive its sovereign immunity and voluntarily become subject to the Act. Virtually all other workers and employers are subject to the Act.

Factors that Impact Coverage

  • You are a sole proprietor, partner or member of an LLC: In Wisconsin, you are not considered an employee and excluded from coverage but have the option to include yourself.
  • You are a corporate officer: You are considered an employee and included in coverage; however you may exclude yourself under certain circumstances.

Failure to Secure Compensation

Employers that fail to obtain insurance when required may be ordered by the Department to cease operations until coverage is obtained. The normal penalty for an illegal lapse in worker’s compensation coverage is twice the amount of premium not paid during the uninsured time period or $750, whichever is greater. An employer who has an illegal lapse in worker’s compensation insurance of 7 consecutive days or less is subject to a $100 penalty for each uninsured day up to 7 days, provided that the employer has not previously had an illegal lapse in coverage and that no injury occurred during the uninsured period.

An uninsured employer is personally liable to reimburse the Uninsured Employers Fund for benefit payments to an injured employee. Aggressive collection action including warrants, levies, garnishment and execution against property are used to insure reimbursement. The normal exemptions of property from seizure and sale on execution of a judgment do not apply to uninsured employers.

Proof of Coverage is Required

There are no Worker’s Compensation posters required under Worker’s Compensation regulations.

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.

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.