How to get Cheap Workers’ Comp Insurance

reminder to get cheap workers’ comp insurance
Mordechai Kamenetsky
Last Updated: 
April 24, 2023

Everyone wants to figure out ways to save money on their workers’ comp policy. Why spend extra money if you don't have to?

Let’s talk about how to find the cheapest workers’ comp insurance. 

But, first - a word of caution.

In the most simplistic form, workers’ compensation insurance is based on what you pay your workers and what type of work the workers are doing.

Unlike other types of insurance, where you buy a policy and it just goes until the end date, with workers’ comp insurance, there is an audit at the end of the policy. 

That means that someone will either call you or come down to your business and examine your payroll records to make sure that everything was set up correctly.

If they find that something is wrong, whether it’s that some payroll to employees or to uninsured subcontractors wasn't accounted for or that the type of work they do is classified incorrectly, there  will be additional premium due for the difference. 

So remember, looks can be deceiving. Be very careful that the policy that looks the cheapest, is not missing key information and you will have to pay more at the end of the policy. ‘Cause then it’s not really the cheapest :(

Affordable workers’ comp insurance has 2 levels

reminder to get cheap workers’ comp insurance

We’re going to expand on these common mistakes that cost you more money and additional things you can do to lower the cost of your policy.

Classify your workers’ correctly

Workers’ comp is based on the concept that people who do riskier jobs are more likely to get hurt and therefore, their insurance will cost more.

There is a list of 500+ job roles called double-check for businesses and employees. Each role is assigned a certain rate that is used to calculate the premium. Within each industry, there can also be different roles for various types of jobs if the level of risk varies greatly. 

For example, a janitorial business can have employees who do a variety of different roles. There can be a secretary or two, cleaning teams that specialize residential or commercial cleaning jobs. There can be a warehouse manager who oversees the inventory and manages supplies. A sales team that goes down to job sides and estimates job costs. There can even be a mechanic for maintaining the cleaning equipment.

Each type of role has a different level of risk and would cost a different amount. 

Commercial cleaners (9014) are cheaper than residential cleaners (0917), but the secretary (8810) is the cheapest of them all by far.

So if everyone got lumped together as residential cleaners, the policy would be much more expensive than it should be. 

So, the first thing to check for an affordable workers’ comp insurance policy is that your employees and their payroll is assigned to the proper roles or class codes.

Estimate your projected payroll as well as you can 

calculating payroll for workers’ comp insurance‍

Next, let’s discuss something that is really weird about workers’ comp insurance. The insurance company wants you to take a really good guess on how much you are going to pay your employees in the next 12 months. 

Anyone have a crystal ball they can share?

But in all honesty, they want you to sit down and try to figure out how many employees youwill have and what you are going to pay them. 

If you are very cautious and err on the side of less, your policy will be cheaper - that is until the audit. Remember, they will come check on you and if you paid your employees more than you estimated, the insurance company will calculate what you owe them and send you a bill. 

So, while it may seem that you found the cheapest workers’ comp policy, double check that the payroll they are using for the calculation makes sense.

Verify if you need to include all your types of workers

A business can have many kinds of people working for it. Full and part-time employees, sub-contractors, independent contractors, and so on. 

Check on the owners

Another thing to note here is that owners can be included in the policy but it is usually not required for them to be included. Their health insurance will usually take care of any injuries and they wouldn’t sue themselves so they don’t need that protection. 

If you included the owner, a quick way to save money would be to remove them from the policy. YAY! Instant savings.

If you want to keep them included in the policy, just make sure you didn’t count them twice. Once as an owner and once included in the count of workers. That would be paying for the owner and an additional person when it really is just one person counted twice.

That is how to double-check your policy to make sure you are getting the most affordable workers’ comp insurance.

Additional ways to get a cheap workers’ compensation insurance policy

Many small business owners don’t realize that they can reduce their workers’ comp costs! Here are some things you can do. Be forewarned that some of them require upfront work on your part but it will pay if in the form of a cheaper workman's comp insurance policy.

Safety program

Safety Program

Companies that have a formal safety program are less likely to have incidents and injuries on the job because they put an emphasis on safety. 

Therefore insurance companies will usually give a slight discount to businesses with a formal safety program. This is a written plan and can include daily and monthly safety meetings, tool box meetings, and constant review of OSHA protocols.

return-to-work program

Return-to-work (RTW) program

A return-to-work program helps injured workers ease back into the workforce. Even if they can’t do their regular job, and may have restrictions from their doctor, studies have shown that people who start working in some capacity, will recover faster and return to their full workload sooner and thus lower the cost of the claim for insurance companies.

It also helps the business because even though they are down an employee in one area, the employee helps out somewhere else and is another pair of hands to help juggle everything. Creating a return-to-work program requires effort, but the investment is highly worthwhile due to increased employee satisfaction and reduced insurance premiums.

Drug and alcohol-free workplace program

Drug and alcohol-free workplace program

Studies have shown that people are five times more likely to hurt themselves at work when they are drunk or high. Crazy how high it is! Isn’t it? 

Therefore, the insurance company will give you a discount if you commit to implementing a drug and alcohol-free program in your workforce. This typically includes a written policy and random testing.  

Lower your Experience Modification Rate

Lower your Experience Modification Rate

Not only will claims cost the insurance company money, but over time, they will increase your premium cost as well. Any business that is 4 years old and meets a few other requirements will get assigned an Experience Modification Rate otherwise known as an Ex-mod. 

This basically compares you to your industry's average rate of claims. It shows if you have more or less injuries than your industry. 

If you have more claims, it will increase your premium because you seem to be more prone to having injuries. 

However, if you have fewer claims than your industry average, the insurance company will give you a discount. This can make a big difference to your premiums so really pay attention to safety and try to do everything you can to avoid a situation where employees can get hurt. 

workers’ comp dividends


In some states, there is a dividend program. This gives you money back if you had a year with less than average claims. The insurance companies are willing to give a percentage of the premium money back as a way to incentivize businesses to take safety seriously!

Price your policy with Kickstand Insurance

There are many insurance agencies that offer online quotes. Some will even let you buy the policy instantly. In our experience, 2 out of 3 instant quotes are inaccurate and will not give you the proper coverage and you will get a nasty surprise bill at audit. As such, please be very cautious when using an instant quote to purchase software. Remember, appearances can be deceiving!

If you want to get an expert insurance agent to double-check your numbers and see if there are any ways to save you money, get started with a quick, no-obligation, instant quote and we’ll reach out to you shortly.

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Note: The information provided in this blog is intended for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional legal or insurance advice. Laws and regulations regarding workers' compensation insurance are complex and vary by state and by specific circumstances. Therefore, readers are encouraged to consult with a qualified legal or insurance professional to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem they might have.

Mordechai Kamenetsky

Mordechai Kamenetsky, co-founder and lead agent of Kickstand, is recognized as an expert in workers' compensation. He is passionate about helping small businesses manage risks and lower their workers' comp costs. In his articles, he educates readers and clients on the intricacies of workers' comp insurance.

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