As a painting contractor, having proper insurance coverage is crucial to protecting your business. Workers’ compensation insurance specifically helps cover costs if an employee is injured on the job. Without adequate coverage, a single employee injury could devastate your company’s finances.

This comprehensive guide will explain everything painters need to know about securing the right workers’ compensation policy. We’ll cover key topics in depth like:

  • What Is Workers’ Compensation Insurance?
  • Why Painters Need Workers’ Comp
  • What Does Workers’ Comp Insurance Cover?
  • Exclusions to Be Aware Of
  • How Much Does Workers’ Comp Cost for Painters?
  • Strategies to Reduce Your Workers’ Comp Premiums
  • How To Get Tailored Workers’ Comp Coverage

Read on for a detailed overview of how workers’ compensation insurance works and why painters need appropriate protection.

What is Workers’ Compensation Insurance?

Workers’ compensation insurance provides medical, rehabilitation, and wage replacement benefits to employees who sustain injuries or illnesses arising out of the course of their work.

As a painter, your employees may be injured on the job in a variety of ways – falls from ladders and scaffolds, chemical exposures, repetitive motion injuries from brushing and rolling, and more.

Workers’ compensation coverage pays for their medical treatment and compensates for a portion of lost wages while injured.

This insurance is mandatory for nearly all employers in the US. Even in states where it is optional, it is critically important. Without workers’ compensation, injured employees could sue your business directly to recover costs. This could absorb hundreds of thousands in legal fees and settlements.

Workers’ compensation laws are determined on a state-by-state basis but have some common elements:

  • No-fault coverage – Benefits must be paid regardless of who was at fault for an injury.
  • Exclusive remedy – Prevents separate lawsuits against the employer. Workers’ comp is the exclusive remedy.
  • Mandatory coverage – Nearly every state requires coverage with few exceptions. Failing to carry this insurance leads to significant fines.
  • Employer-financed – Employers foot the bill for all premiums. Employees are not required to contribute.

As the employer, it is your responsibility to purchase adequate workers’ compensation for all your staff and maintain compliance with your state’s guidelines. Failing to do so poses tremendous financial risks to your painting business.

Why Do Painters Need Workers’ Comp Insurance?

Due to the physical nature of painting work, employee injuries are common. Situations requiring workers’ compensation benefits could include:

  • Falls from ladders, scaffolds, lifts when working at heights. This can lead to fractures, spinal injuries, concussions and even death. Proper fall protection is a must.
  • Chemical exposure to paints, thinners, solvents resulting in skin irritation, allergic reactions, asthma attacks or even cancer depending on toxicity and duration of exposure.
  • Repetitive motion injuries like tendinitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, trigger finger from repeated brushing and rolling motions.
  • Back strains from moving heavy equipment, supplies and lifting awkward objects.
  • Eye injuries if proper safety goggles are not worn around paint, chemicals, debris.

Even with robust safety precautions, painting projects carry inherent risks on a daily basis. The financial costs of these employee injuries can easily climb into the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars when medical bills and lost wages add up.

Having proper workers’ compensation insurance coverage is the only way to cover these costs without financial disaster. It helps keep your business afloat if an on-the-job accident occurs by paying for the injury. This insurance is just as crucial as general liability coverage for painters to have ironclad protection.

Moreover, nearly every state requires painters to carry workers’ compensation insurance on their employees. Even in monopolistic states where coverage must be purchased through a state-run fund, painters must still carry this insurance. These states include North Dakota, Ohio, Washington, and Wyoming.

All states require workers’ compensation except Texas and Oklahoma. In Texas, workers’ comp insurance is optional for painters. However, ~90% still choose to purchase this coverage to limit liability. If not carried, employees can sue the painter directly for injuries. In Oklahoma, workers’ comp is optional for very small employers with 1 or 2 employees, which may apply to some self-employed painters or tiny firms. Firms with more than 2 employees must carry comp insurance in Oklahoma.

The vast majority of painters are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance on their staff in nearly every state. Only a small subset of solo self-employed painters or micro firms may potentially not be required in Texas and Oklahoma depending on size. However, even in these two states coverage is still highly recommended to avoid lawsuits. Every other state mandates workers’ comp.

What Does Workers’ Comp Insurance Cover for Painters?

Workers’ compensation insurance policies are designed to accomplish two things if an employee is hurt while working:

  1. Pay the employee’s medical bills and directly related expenses. This includes hospital fees, physical therapy, doctor visits, prescription medications, medical equipment, home health care, and any other medical costs stemming from the work injury. There are no caps or limits on the amount of medical coverage provided.
  2. Reimburse a portion of the employee’s lost wages while they recover. The specifics on wage reimbursement percentages and duration limits depend on individual state laws. Most states cover around 2/3 of the employee’s average wages up to state maximums.

Additional benefits covered may include:

  • Death benefits for surviving dependents if an employee passes away due to a workplace injury or illness. Most states provide both burial costs and wage replacement.
  • Vocational rehabilitation to help injured employees transition back to work or train for a new occupation if they cannot continue painting work due to permanent disability.
  • Mileage reimbursement for trips to doctor appointments and medical facilities.

Workers’ compensation is intended to cover all reasonable and directly related medical, rehabilitative, and wage replacement costs to help the injured employee fully recover and get back to work if possible.

It’s important to understand workers’ compensation insurance only applies to injuries occurring within the scope of employment. Key exclusions to be aware of include:

  • Injuries occurring outside of work hours or off company premises. There must be a clear connection to work duties.
  • Pre-existing health conditions that are aggravated or exacerbated by work activities. The injury itself must arise out of employment.
  • Intentionally self-inflicted injuries such as suicide attempts and self-harm activities.
  • Injuries occurring when an employee violates policy such as fighting, committing crimes, or intoxication at work.
  • Ordinary diseases of life like colds, flu, allergies etc. that are not caused solely by work duties.
  • Gradual hearing loss or repetitive motion injuries that occur slowly over time. These may be disputed by insurers.

Any gray areas or disputes will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. But in general, workers’ compensation insurance covers only identifiable injuries resulting from the employee’s job duties. Other key coverages like health insurance help fill gaps that workers’ comp does not address.

Common Painting Exposures Leading to Workers’ Comp Claims

Due to the nature of painting work, certain on-the-job hazards occur more frequently and can lead to severe injuries. These risks elevate workers’ compensation costs over time through higher base class rates and EMRs. Common claims sources include:

  • Falls – slips, trips or falls from ladders, scaffolding, lifts when working at height
  • Chemical exposures – toxic fumes, particulates, skin/eye irritation from paints, thinners, solvents, coatings
  • Lifting strains – back injuries, sprains from moving heavy materials, supplies, equipment
  • Respiratory issues – asthma, difficulty breathing due to paint, finish vapors
  • Cuts and lacerations – from tools, work materials, debris
  • Vehicle accidents – crashes traveling to and from job sites
  • Overexertion – repetitive strain from scraping, sanding, and brushwork motions
  • Other injuries – such as eye irritation from paint overspray or particulate debris

Implementing effective risk management, safety protocols, training, protective equipment, and developing a culture focused on injury prevention can help mitigate these hazards. Controlling the frequency and severity of claims is key for painting contractors to better manage EMRs and loss experience in order to minimize workers’ compensation costs over the long term.

What Does Workers’ Comp Insurance Cost for Painters?

Painting contractors pay workers’ compensation premiums based on a complex calculation using several elements. Being aware of how these key variables interact and impact final costs allows businesses to take steps to minimize premium expenses.

Class Codes and Base Rates

The National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) assigns classification codes to various professions based on the typical duties performed and risks involved. Painters predominantly fall this class code:

  • 5474 – Painting/Decorating NOC (not otherwise classified)

This code is used for most general painting and wallpaper installation work. The base rate for each class code combines both the frequency and severity of injuries statistically expected for the professions. Each state regulator approves a base rate table for every class code based on local conditions, wages, and other factors. Starting with the proper class code helps ensure painting contractors are not overcharged premiums due to miscategorization or misrepresentation of duties and risks.

Experience Modification Rating (EMR)

The experience modification rating (EMR) compares the recent loss history of a business relative to other employers in the same industry classification. An EMR above 1.0 indicates a worse than average safety record with elevated claims, while a rating below 1.0 represents safer than typical experience. The EMR directly multiplies the base rate as part of the premium calculation, meaning this factor can have a major influence on final costs. Maintaining a low EMR through diligent loss control and prevention practices is crucial for painting companies to manage expenses. Even a small increase in EMR can compound premiums exponentially.

Estimated and Audited Payroll

Payroll represents the compensation paid to employees over a set period, usually the prior policy year. Rates for workers’ compensation are applied per $100 of payroll. Therefore, higher payroll corresponds to greater premiums, all else being equal. Payroll is initially estimated based on projections for the upcoming policy term. Then audits are conducted at the end of the term to examine actual payroll based on records of hours worked and payments made to employees. Proper categorization, tracking, and reporting of payroll by job duty prevents unexpected increases or misrepresentation. Audits ensure the final premium aligns with real exposures.

Premium Calculation Formula

These elements culminate in a formula to derive the premium:

Premium = Base Rate x EMR x (Payroll / 100)

The base rate provides the starting point benchmark for a particular class code. The EMR adjusts this up or down based on the risk profile of the individual business. Higher payroll leads to greater premiums as more employee-hours are covered. Understanding how these variables interact provides employers the insight to manage costs more strategically.

Workers’ Compensation Premium Estimator for Painters

The following workers’ compensation premium estimator provides painting contractors an accessible tool to calculate potential costs based on their payroll, employee classifications, and risk factors:

By inputting details like the state where they operate, estimated payroll by class code, EMR, and other key variables, painting company owners can get an instant estimate of workers’ comp costs tailored to their business. This allows for more accurate financial planning and budgeting. It also illustrates how factors like safety initiatives to control EMR may directly reduce expenses, providing monetary incentive for workplace risk management.

Overview of Workers’ Compensation Costs for Painters by State

Workers’ compensation premiums can vary dramatically between states. This is influenced by state laws, insurance regulations, regional payroll levels, local risk and claims profiles, market competition, and other dynamics. Here is an overview of typical costs per painter employee and per $100,000 in payroll in each state:

Typical Workers’ Compensation Premium Cost per Painter Employee by State

StateTypical Cost of WC per Employee
Alabama$2,288
Alaska$1,828
Arizona$1,998
Arkansas$1,002
California$4,350
Colorado$1,837
Connecticut$3,884
Delaware$3,237
Florida$2,677
Georgia$5,000
Hawaii$2,612
Idaho$2,909
Illinois$2,907
Indiana$1,019
Iowa$2,508
Kansas$1,466
Kentucky$1,499
Louisiana$2,731
Maine$3,307
Maryland$1,844
Massachusetts$2,258
Michigan$2,123
Minnesota$3,711
Mississippi$1,670
Missouri$3,038
Montana$3,092
Nebraska$2,232
Nevada$1,906
New Hampshire$3,096
New Jersey$7,146
New Mexico$2,121
New York$6,864
North Carolina$2,438
North Dakota$1,100
Ohio$1,637
Oklahoma$2,362
Oregon$1,456
Pennsylvania$3,847
Rhode Island$3,302
South Carolina$2,970
South Dakota$1,872
Tennessee$1,704
Texas$1,092
Utah$1,706
Vermont$3,959
Virginia$2,066
Washington$2,436
West Virginia$1,560
Wisconsin$3,379
Wyoming$1,512

Typical Painters Workers’ Compensation Premium Cost per $100,000 Payroll by State

StateTypical Cost of WC per $100K payroll
Alabama$5,550
Alaska$5,900
Arizona$4,870
Arkansas$2,810
California$7,980
Colorado$4,600
Connecticut$7,970
Delaware$7,080
District of Columbia$3,520
Florida$7,140
Georgia$12,230
Hawaii$7,480
Idaho$8,850
Illinois$5,970
Indiana$2,600
Iowa$6,620
Kansas$4,030
Kentucky$4,000
Louisiana$6,920
Maine$7,550
Maryland$4,160
Massachusetts$4,050
Michigan$5,120
Minnesota$7,870
Mississippi$4,330
Missouri$6,700
Montana$8,230
Nebraska$6,080
Nevada$4,570
New Hampshire$7,280
New Jersey$12,590
New Mexico$5,380
New York$13,200
North Carolina$6,910
North Dakota$2,540
Ohio$3,930
Oklahoma$6,270
Oregon$3,620
Pennsylvania$8,350
Rhode Island$8,100
South Carolina$8,430
South Dakota$5,150
Tennessee$4,420
Texas$2,960
Utah$4,380
Vermont$8,360
Virginia$4,670
Washington$5,480
West Virginia$3,100
Wisconsin$7,660
Wyoming$3,480

What Can Painters Do To Reduce Workers’ Comp Costs?

The most effective way for painting contractors to reduce workers’ compensation costs is to focus on safety. Preventing workplace injuries saves money by avoiding claims.

Strategies to improve safety include:

  • Enforcing strict protocols and procedures for ladder use, handling hazardous materials, wearing protective equipment, etc.
  • Providing proper protective gear like masks, goggles, gloves
  • Identifying and fixing hazards
  • Rotating tasks to prevent repetitive motion injuries
  • Having clear medical policies to treat chemical exposures
  • Promptly reporting all injuries, even if minor

Other cost reduction tips:

  • Keep accurate records of job activities to ensure proper premium classification
  • Partner with an insurance broker to customize coverage and find savings
  • Explore group plans, dividend plans, self-insurance or other alternative structures
  • Verify billing for errors and that all credits are applied

The keys are focusing on safety, risk management, proper record-keeping, regular shopping of rates, and working with an experienced advisor. A strategic approach can help manage growing workers’ comp costs.

How Can Painters Get Tailored Workers’ Comp Insurance?

The workers’ compensation system can be complex to navigate with strict state and federal regulations. Mistakes in classification codes, Experience Mod calculations, and reporting claims can be very costly.

When seeking coverage, partnering with insurance specialists focused on the painting trades is highly recommended. Avoid a one-size-fits-all policy from an insurance carrier’s website or call center.

Some key benefits of using painting trade specialists include:

  • Access to top regional and national insurers familiar with painting risks who actively write these policies for painters. Captive painting insurance agents only work with select carriers.
  • Compliance expertise to steer you clear of violations and help manage claims appropriately. Confidently handle audits. Mistakes lead to fines.
  • Potential access to painting trade association plans not available to the general public. Group plans through PDCA, Finishing Contractors Association, etc can offer discounted rates.
  • Policy customization based on your unique mix of employees. Classifying payroll correctly optimizes your rate.
  • Bundle discounts when pairing workers’ comp with general liability and other coverages. This lowers insurance overhead.
  • Risk management guidance like job site assessments, OSHA advice, and safety program creation. Lower risks lead to lower premiums.
  • Claims assistance including investigation, directing medical care, coordinating return to work and settlement. Leave the paperwork to the experts. Learn more about the process of filing a workers compensation claim.

The right insurance partner takes the burden of handling complex workers’ compensation requirements off your shoulders. This allows you to focus on painting rather than insurance administration. Avoid roadblocks to smooth operation.

Obtain Workers Compensation Quotes for Your Painting Business

Are you searching for workers compensation coverage for your painting company? ContractorNerd offers a streamlined quotation process to meet your insurance needs.

Our online portal allows you to quickly input key details such as payroll information, employee classifications, and claims history. We utilize this data to immediately generate customized quotes from highly-rated insurance carriers.

Key Features Our Platform Offers:

  • Quotes tailored for commercial painters, residential painters, and painting contractors
  • Ability to adjust policy limits and elect employer’s liability
  • Licensed professionals available to guide you through process

We understand time is valuable when operating your painting business. That’s why ContractorNerd simplifies the process of securing essential workers compensation insurance. Obtain obligation-free quotes now to remain compliant and protect your workforce.