Here’s the general process for getting workers’ comp for your business.
- Get a broker
- Fill out an insurance questionnaire
- Provide supporting documents (payroll records and other company information)
- Answer any follow-up questions from the insurer
- Get quotes
- Select a policy and sign the documents
- Pay for the policy
We’re going to talk you through all of this. Before you read, though, you should know that what we’re about to explain is the traditional process for getting workers’ compensation insurance—at Huckleberry, this process is completely online and takes less time than making a cup of coffee.
Anyway. Let’s dig in.
1) Start the process early.
Getting workers’ comp the normal way can take a few weeks, so don’t wait until the day before your first employee starts. As soon as you decide to hire an employee, start the search for workers’ comp.
2) Get a broker.
Just about any business insurance broker will be able to find you workers’ comp policies. If you don’t have one already, call around to find someone you like working with.
3) Fill out an insurance questionnaire.
To get the ball rolling, you’ll need to fill out a pretty lengthy form. It’s where you explain all about your business, the type of work you do, and the kind of jobs you provide.
Some traditional insurance companies will allow you to fill out this application form online, but the majority will ask you to download and print out a PDF copy. (When you’re finished, you’ll mail or email it back to the agent.)
Keep in mind that this form can be over 300 questions long. Be sure to set aside an evening.
4) Provide supporting documents and answer any follow-up questions.
After the broker submits your form, prospective insurers will probably have some more questions for you. In particular, you should be ready to provide details on any safety incidents in the history of the company. (Did an employee sprain their ankle five years ago? Be ready to provide the details.)
You should also be ready to pull out your paperwork. A prospective insurer might ask you for a “loss run,” which is a list of all your company’s safety claims. You’ll need to get it from your current insurer.
A prospective insurer can ask you for just about any kind of paperwork, though. For example, if you’ve ever used independent contractors, you may need to track down evidence that all of those contractors have their own workers’ comp policies.
Best advice? If you’re going the traditional route, set aside plenty of time for phone calls and research.
5) Select a quote and sign the documents.
First off, getting quotes from prospective insurance companies can take a few days—or even a few weeks. (Remember when we said not to procrastinate?)
Once you do get a quote you like, though, you’ll need to accept it by signing the documentation. In the traditional insurance world, though, many insurers still require a wet ink signature, so you may need to mail the documentation back before the policy takes effect.
6) Pay for your policy.
This is where things can get a little bit complicated. Many traditional insurers will send you a paper bill, and, often, you’ll need to choose between a bunch of payment options: 1 installment, 10 installments, etc. Be aware that each payment plan will likely come with its own fees and down payment rules, so be ready to ask questions. You’ll want to make sure you understand your payment plan. If you accidentally let your insurance policy lapse, you could end up with criminal charges.
(Prefer automatic, electronic billing?)
7) Get your policy documents.
If you go with a traditional insurer, these will probably show up in your mailbox. It’ll be a big stack! Put them somewhere safe and accessible so that you can find the correct notices when you need them.