Workers’ Compensation Insurance in South Carolina: Employer’s Guide

man injured in a warehouse from a fall

May 9, 2024

Navigating South Carolina’s workers’ compensation insurance requirements is crucial for business owners aiming to ensure legal compliance and the safety of their workforce. For industries ranging from tourism-heavy coastal areas, manufacturing hubs in the Midlands, and to the agricultural stretches of the Upstate, understanding these mandates is key to protecting your business against legal and financial pitfalls.

Are your workers’ comp insurance policies up for renewal? Has your business taken on more associated risks this year and needs to be reevaluated? Let’s talk about tailoring your approach to meet these demands effectively.

South Carolina’s Workers’ Compensation Laws

State-Mandated Workers’ Comp Insurance Requirements

In South Carolina, any business with four or more employees (whether full-time, part-time, seasonal, or temporary) must provide workers’ compensation insurance. Workers’ comp policies cover everything from medical expenses to a portion of lost wages should an employee suffer a job-related injury or illness.

While the majority of businesses are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance, there are a few employers and industries that are exempt from these requirements.

  • Commission-Based Real Estate Agents
  • Independent Driver-Operators
  • Express Railroad & Railway Firms
  • Agricultural Businesses
  • State Fair & County Fair Associations
  • Companies With Yearly Payroll Under $3,000

It is still recommended that exempt businesses carry workers’ comp insurance, as it is in the best interest of employees and business owners.

Penalties for Non-Compliance

Businesses that fail to secure workers’ compensation insurance face stringent penalties. The South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission can issue stop-work orders, effectively halting all business operations.Penalties of up to $100 per day can be imposed for non-compliance, with a minimum fine of $1,000.

Criminal charges, including misdemeanors for lesser offenses and felonies for more severe violations, can also be pursued.

Determining Your Workers’ Comp Coverage Needs in South Carolina

Assessing Business Risk & Coverage Levels

When assessing business risk and determining appropriate coverage levels for workers’ compensation insurance in South Carolina, it’s essential to consider both the general industry risks and any specific factors unique to your business.

For industries like construction or manufacturing, where physical labor is prevalent, the inherent risks include equipment-related injuries, falls, or other on-site accidents. However, emerging risks such as increased mental health issues due to workplace stress, or even repetitive strain injuries from prolonged computer use in office environments, also require reevaluating coverage needs.

With the integration of new technologies and machinery, businesses may face new risks associated with operating advanced equipment. Updates to existing insurance policies ensure comprehensive coverage. Regularly reviewing and adjusting your insurance coverage in response to these evolving risks is crucial to maintain adequate protection and compliance with state laws.

Inclusions & Exclusions in South Carolina Policies

In South Carolina, workers’ compensation insurance typically covers a wide range of injuries sustained during employment, but exclusions exist.

It’s important for business owners to be aware of the specific exclusions that can affect claim validity. Apart from the general exclusions for injuries resulting from an employee’s intoxication or engagement in illegal activities, other less obvious exclusions also apply.

Below are real scenarios that aren’t covered under workers’ comp policies and many business owners and employees are unaware of.

  • Injuries that occur during an employee’s commute to and from work are not covered under the state’s workers’ compensation insurance.
  • Injuries sustained during voluntary, off-duty, recreational, social, or athletic activities that are not part of the employee’s work duties, unless expressly required by the employer and produce a direct benefit to the business.

Understanding specific exclusions helps employers better manage risk and clarify to employees coverage boundaries, maintaining a transparent and fair workplace.

Navigating the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Process

Securing the Right Workers’ Compensation Insurance Policy: Steps for South Carolina Employers

When selecting an insurance provider, compare and consider factors such as:

  • Responsiveness to claims
  • Understanding of your industry-specific risks
  • Overall reputation
  • Consult with peers or industry associations to gauge other experiences with potential insurers

Managing Your Workers’ Comp Policy: Audits, Updates & Claims

Conducting annual insurance policy audits ensures your coverage reflects any changes in your business, such as increases or decreases in workforce, shifts in operational roles, or expansions into new service areas. Staying proactive with these updates can prevent gaps in coverage and facilitate smoother claims processes when incidents occur.

Financial Implications & Cost-Saving Strategies

Understanding Insurance Premiums & Cost Factors

Factors affecting premiums in South Carolina include the total annual payroll, the type and severity of work performed, and the company’s history of claims, known as the Experience Modification Factor (EMR). Businesses with lower EMRs, indicating fewer or less severe claims, often benefit from lower premiums.

Tips for Controlling Workers’ Comp Expenses

Businesses can actively reduce insurance costs by implementing comprehensive safety programs, regularly conducting risk assessments, and maintaining rigorous training protocols. For example, a manufacturing company can decrease its risk level by ensuring all employees use protective equipment and receive training on machinery operation.

PSI’s Role in Ensuring Compliance & Protection

Partnering with Palmetto State Insurance for Compliance Assurance

At INSURISK Solutions, Palmetto State Insurances commercial division, we specialize in helping South Carolina businesses navigate the complexities of workers’ compensation insurance. We provide customized insurance solutions that align with state regulations and fit your specific business needs, ensuring that you’re not only compliant but also well-protected.

Customized Solutions for South Carolina Employers

Our tailored approach includes assessing your specific business risks and designing a policy that offers optimal coverage. Whether you operate a high-risk construction company or a boutique retail store, INSURISK Solutions ensures that your insurance solution is comprehensive and cost-effective.

Protecting your employees with proper workers’ compensation insurance is a fundamental aspect of business ownership in South Carolina. Contact Palmetto State Insurance today to ensure that your coverage meets state requirements and aligns with your business needs.