Workers’ Compensation Coverage

Workers’ compensation insurance is designed to respond in the event of a work-related accident or illness.  It protects employers by limiting their liability for accidents and illness caused by work, and protects employees by providing benefits to help them recover from a work-related injury or illness. Each state has different laws governing workers’ compensation. This FAQs section is specific to Colorado. 

FAQs

What does workers’ compensation insurance cover?

Workers compensation covers accidents, injuries, illnesses and deaths that occur as a result of work. 

Medical care and treatment includes hospital bills, medications, supplies and other related costs associated with treating an injury or illness sustained in the course of work. 

Lost wages come into play if an employee must take time off work to recover from a work-related injury or illness.  Workers’ compensation in Colorado covers two-thirds of an employee’s average weekly wage.  Lost wages are typically capped at a certain amount. 

Ongoing care refers to work-related injuries or illnesses that may require multiple treatment sessions.  This can include physical therapy, multiple surgeries and more. 

Disability benefits can help cover occupational injuries or illness that leave an employee disabled, whether permanently, temporarily, totally or partially. 

Repetitive injuries are injuries that develop over time, sometimes months or years.  Poor ergonomic habits that can cause repetitive injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome are an example.

Death benefits and expenses including funeral costs and payments to an employee’s beneficiaries apply if an employee loses their life as the result of a work-related incident. 

What are some claims examples?

  • A restaurant employee burns himself while cooking. He is taken to the hospital to receive medical care and his associated medical bills are covered by workers’ compensation. 
  • A warehouse employee throws out her back while lifting heavy equipment. Her physical therapy and other treatment would be covered by workers’ compensation.  
  • An office employee trips down the stairs and breaks his wrist. X-rays, physical therapy, and his other medical costs are covered by workers compensation.
  • A roofer falls from a two story house during his work. His medical costs, treatment and portions of his lost wages are covered by workers’ compensation.   

What doesn’t workers’ compensation insurance cover?

It is important to understand what isn’t covered by workers’ compensation insurance.  For example, injuries that are the result of alcohol or illegal drug use may not be covered by workers’ compensation in Colorado. Fraudulent claims would also be likely to be denied and can result in criminal charges.  Because workers compensation insurance is administered at a state level, it is wise to review state guidelines, consult with an attorney and inquire with your workers compensation insurance agent or carrier to get a full picture of what may not be covered in full or at all. 

Do I need workers’ compensation coverage?

The majority of business do need workers’ compensation insurance. In the state of Colorado, businesses are required to have coverage if they have one or more employees.  This applies to full-time, part-time, salaried and hourly employees.  There are a few exceptions to the requirement, outlined below.

Independent contractors don’t have employees and aren’t employees.  They work on a contract rate for different businesses and do not receive employee benefits from these companies. Generally, an independent contractor works outside of the business’ control and direction regarding how the services are being performed. It is imperative to understand who qualifies as an independent contractor to ensure you are complaint with state law.

Sole proprietors and business partners are not considered employees by the state of Colorado.  As such, they are not required to be covered by workers’ compensation coverage. 

Corporate officers who own at least 10% of the business are often allowed to elect or reject workers’ compensation coverage.  There are some exceptions so it is important to work with an agent to make sure you are adhering to state law. 

While sole proprietors, business partners and corporate officers are usually not required to carry workers’ compensation coverage, it is often a wise business decision to elect coverage due to the high cost of medical care.  Even if you have health insurance, workers’ compensation can help cover lost wages and guide you through the return to work process. 

What are the penalties for failing to have workers’ compensation coverage?

The Division of Workers’ Compensation enforces compliance with Colorado workers’ compensation requirements.  This entity can issue a cease and desist order against a business that it determines lacks proper coverage, which halts all operations until proper coverage is in force.  Uninsured employers can face large fines, up to $250 per day, for the time period when coverage was not in place. 

What is the statute of limitations for workers’ compensation claims?

An injured or ill employee should file a workers’ compensation claim immediately.  The employee is required to report the injury or illness to their employer, in writing, within four working days. If the employee misses at least three days of work, the employer is required is required to file a first report of injury.  A claim can only be filed for up to two years following the diagnosis on an injury or illness.  If the injury is repetitive or ongoing in nature (like carpal tunnel syndrome) the statute of limitations begins when the employee knew or should have known there was a medical condition caused by employment.  A worker’s dependents have two years to file a claim petition for death benefits.   

How much does workers’ compensation insurance cost?

Every business is different and each policy is customized based on your industry, payrolls, location, number of employees, claims history and other factors.

Payroll is one of the main elements used to determine your workers’ compensation premium.  Your business’ total employee wages and salaries are used to help calculate your premium. 

Experience modification factor, or e-mod, is a numerical rating assigned to your policy by the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI).  Your e-mod is based on your business’ accident and claims history and is used as a multiplier against the average accident rate of other companies in your same industry in Colorado.  If your e-mod is lower than the industry average (calculated as 1.00), your premium will likely be lower.  If your e-mod is higher than the industry average, it will be reflect in your premium. 

Classification codes are assigned to your industry by the NCCI and are based on exposures to injury associated with your industry.  For example, roofers will have a different classification code than restaurant workers.  Individual industries can have multiple class codes, depending on the type of work being performed.  If you industry, as a whole, suffers more worker injuries during a year, the rate for that class code will rise. 

Discounts are often offered on workers’ compensation premiums based on safety and health measures your business takes to prevent accidents.  Some discount examples are: premium size, cost containment, designated provider, performance credits, safety group program and deductible discounts. Your agent will be able to help you determine what discounts you may be eligible for and which discounts make sense for your business.  

How do I purchase workers’ compensation insurance?

Employers in Colorado have several options for purchasing workers’ compensation coverage.  You can purchase this coverage directly from Colorado’s state fund, which is administered by Pinnacol Assurance. You also have the option to purchase coverage from an authorized commercial insurance company through a licensed agent.  Larger business that have at least 300 employees or $100 million in assets can opt to self-insure, while public sector employers and professional associations may join a pool or group to obtain coverage. 

Employers’ Liability Coverage

Employers’ liability insurance protects your business if an employee sues over an occupational injury or illness. It covers legal costs in the event an employee alleges your business’ negligence caused their injury or illness. Most workers’ compensation policies automatically include employer’s liability coverage. Learn More > 

Other States Coverage

Workers’ compensation insurance requirements are different for each state. Some states require more or different coverage than others. If your business has employees that travel through or to other states for work, temporarily work outside of the business’ home state or if you have employees that regularly work in another state, you’ll need to understand your options for other states workers’ compensation coverage. Learn More >  

What our clients are saying:

NEWS  |  November 8, 2011
Kelley Cox

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – When investor and businessman Harry Logan founded Glenwood Insurance Agency in 1911, he probably wasn’t thinking about the company’s longevity. He sold it eight years later.

But from 1919 to the present, the company has passed through two Glenwood Springs families, and is still owned today by a partnership of families.

Now, 100 years after Logan opened the doors, the Glenwood Insurance Agency is celebrating a century in business.

“I’m proud to carry on the tradition,” said Scott Bolitho, a co-owner and third generation executive in the company. “My grandfather did business with a handshake. That personal touch has carried through to the present.

“We like to do business by establishing a relationship with people. You know in insurance, there’s nothing tangible you’re selling. Everything is built on trust and relationships,” Bolitho said.

“A lot of things have changed over the years, most notably the technology and the regulations on the industry,” said Asa Jones, another co-owner who took over from his brother Pete.

“The foundation for our success has always been our relationships with our customers. One of the benefits of living in and doing business in a town like Glenwood Springs is that we get to know and help so many great families,” Jones said.

“Through good years and bad, our priority has been to treat our customers and our employees like family,” said Nettie Avery, who, along with her husband Bryan, bought a share of the company in 1999.

“That’s one of the reasons we’ve weathered the storms. We’ve helped our customers through the difficult times by proactively meeting with them to find ways to cut their costs without sacrificing their coverage,” Avery said. “When our customers succeed, we succeed.”

Harry Logan was in the insurance and lending businesses when he launched Glenwood Insurance Agency in 1911. The town was just 26 years old, and didn’t stretch any farther south than 13th Street.

In 1919, Logan sold the business to Carleton Hubbard Sr., who ran it until the 1960s, said his son, Carleton Hubbard Jr. of Glenwood Springs, who also worked in the business in his younger years.

The senior Hubbard, who had spent the previous 10 years as county clerk and deputy county clerk, had purchased the Garfield County Abstract Co. a year earlier, and he was very busy running the two businesses.

Needing help, he hired Ada Hutchings, a former Strawberry Queen. Proximity paid off, and the two were married in 1928. They ran the two companies from an office in the Hotel Glenwood, a four-story wooden structure at the northeast corner of Eighth and Grand.

In 1944, they moved the office across the street into the brick First National Bank Building. The following year, the Hotel Glenwood burned to the ground.

In the 1960s, the Hubbards bought the abstract companies that were serving Eagle and Pitkin counties, just at the time when Vail and Snowmass Village were beginning to be developed. The title business was far more demanding than the insurance business, so the Hubbard family sold the 50-year-old insurance agency to Walter Thrall.

“My dad would feel very proud,” Hubbard said of the business continuing for another 50 years, “and it wouldn’t surprise him that it is still doing well. It was a nice little agency when he sold it. They [represented] good companies.”

In the same downtown block, Pat Bell owned a competing insurance agency in the Dever Building, on the northwest corner of Eighth and Grand.

“I remember going to my grandfather’s office on Saturday mornings with my brother to play with the rotary phones. We really grew up with the business,” said Scott Bolitho, son of Jere Bell (Pat Bell’s daughter) and her husband, Bill Bolitho.
In 1977, Pete Jones and Bill Bolitho bought the Glenwood Insurance Agency from Thrall and his partner, Ralph Sample. They merged the company with Bell’s agency, forming a company that was, for a few years, called the Glen Bell Agency.
A few years later, they also acquired the First Agency from Randy Wilson and Bob Howsam. In 1982, Pete’s brother Asa Jones came in as a partner. In 1983, they partners changed the name back to Glenwood Insurance Agency.

Today, Glenwood Insurance is owned by Scott Bolitho, Asa Jones, Bryan and Nettie Avery, along with investors Dennis Lawrence of Wyoming and Sarah Fleming of Grand Junction. Ian Exelbert, who previously served as market president for U.S Bank and controller for WestStar Bank in Glenwood Springs, joined the agency in September as an owner and chief operating officer.

Scott Bolitho also noted that Todd Thulson was a partner and key player in the agency from 1999 until his retirement in 2008.

Bolitho said as a kid, he never imagined following his father and grandfather into the insurance business.
“The last thing I was going to do was move back to Glenwood Springs. I wanted to work in sports marketing,” he said.
But he earned a college degree in insurance and finance, and spent seven years in Denver working for Travelers Insurance, one of the lines Glenwood Insurance has carried for decades. And then, just like his parents, he moved his young family back to Glenwood Springs and went into the business.

Now his son Ryan, 26, works there too.

“It was the same thing as me,” Scott Bolitho said. “He used to say to me, ‘Dad, how can you work in an office?’ And here he is.”

The insurance industry calls this multi-generational pattern “perpetuation.”

It results in stability and dependability that keeps customers and employees on board for years. Many of the agency’s customers are the second, third and, in some cases, fourth generations doing business with Glenwood Insurance, and some employees have been with the company for 20 to 30 years.

For Exelbert, it’s like stepping into a deep tradition.

“This is a great opportunity to carry on the legacy of a Glenwood Springs business that has stood the test of time, and proven its commitment to customers and employees again and again,” he said.

– Publicist Mandy Gauldin contributed to this report.