Plumbing helps make modern life possible. Without it, things would be very different.
What most of us take for granted – flowing water at the sink, working toilets, and hot showers – is only possible with the help of skilled plumbers. These professionals handle everything from new plumbing installation to unclogging drains and so much more.
On the surface, it doesn’t seem like a high-risk occupation, but that appearance is deceiving. Plumbers face a wide range of risks every day on the job, and that means having workers’ comp for plumbers is important, whether you own an established plumbing company, are a sole proprietor, or you’re a contractor.
Workers’ comp insurance for plumbers is designed to pay for medical costs if an employee is injured on the job or develops a work-related disease. It can also pay a percentage of lost wages related to the injury or illness. And, if an employee is killed on the job or dies from injuries sustained on the job, it can pay funeral costs and provide death benefits to the employee’s survivors.
Many people don’t understand how workers’ comp insurance for plumbers works. Some may even be on the fence about whether it’s really a necessity and wonder what insurance plumbers need in the first place. In this guide, we’ll break everything down for you.
For those not part of the plumbing industry, the job often seems very low-risk. That couldn’t be further from the truth. While it might not involve the same risks as, say, an airline pilot, plumbers face significant risks on a daily basis. Some of the most common include the following:
Gas lines, leaks, and the risk of fire or explosion
Electrical lines and the risk of shock or electrocution
Slips, trips, and falls
Extreme weather when working outdoors
Hot water and steam burns/scalding
Cuts and lacerations
Repetitive motion injuries
Falls from heights, including rooftops, scaffolding, and ladders
Businesses (including plumbing companies) must carry multiple types of insurance today. General liability insurance and professional liability insurance policies are just two examples. Workers’ compensation insurance is another. This type of insurance is specifically designed to protect your workers and your business. But how does it do that?
First, workers’ comp insurance for plumbers covers both short and long-term medical costs.
For instance, let’s say one of your plumbers tripped on the job and sprained their ankle. They were able to drive themselves to the doctor’s office, where they received an X-ray and were told to ice their ankle and stay off it for a few days.
The employee goes home, rests, and comes back in a few days without any problems. Workers’ comp insurance will pay for the medical costs in this situation.
Now, suppose a plumber is repairing a damaged pipe within a business and is badly scalded by hot water. The scald covers the employee’s entire leg and requires immediate medical attention. Due to the severity of the scald, the employee not only needs to take several weeks off work but has considerable scarring that prevents them from using their leg correctly and limits their mobility for the rest of their life. Workers’ comp insurance would pay for the initial medical costs, as well as those down the road.
Workers’ comp insurance for plumbers will also cover lost wages. However, the amount covered and the timeframe involved vary considerably from state to state. You’ll need to consult your insurance carrier to determine what your state’s requirements are.
While each state is somewhat different, the overall process looks like this: an employee is injured on the job and must take time off. After a certain number of days, the workers’ comp policy begins paying a percentage of the wages that the employee would have earned on the job. The national average is around two-thirds of an employee’s regular earnings, but this varies by state.
Finally, workers’ comp insurance will pay out funeral costs and provide death benefits for a surviving spouse and dependent children of an employee who dies as the result of a workplace accident. The amounts vary by state, of course, but death benefits are designed to help offset the loss of a provider’s income by paying a percentage of what the employee would have brought home.
These are just a few examples of how workers’ compensation insurance for plumbers works. As you can see, it’s a necessity. And, if you don’t have it, you could be faced with some pretty significant financial and legal problems.
Most states require all businesses with employees to carry workers’ compensation insurance. That includes plumbing companies.
However, the situation changes when you’re talking about sole proprietorships, independent contractors, and other professionals. This varies greatly by state and will hinge on your state’s determination of risk severity. For instance, quite a few states require anyone in the construction industry to carry workers’ compensation insurance because of the risks involved.
The cost of workers’ comp insurance for plumbers varies depending on several different factors. Your anticipated payroll is one of those, as is the number of employees within your business. Other factors include the number of claims your business has had, your state, and the job class codes used for your employees.
Of those factors, class codes are among the most important. Misclassification of employees is one of the most common reasons for expensive workers’ compensation policies. Class codes are numeric designations set by the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI).
Plumbers only have a single class code: 5183. This should not be confused with class code 3188, which applies to workers who manufacture products for use within the industry. You will also have different job class codes for non-plumbers working within your business, such as a warehouse manager or receptionist.
Every business owner appreciates the chance to save money, but can you do that with workers’ comp insurance without sacrificing coverage and protection? The answer is yes, and you have several options available.
Require Safety Training
One way to reduce your workers’ comp insurance costs is to require safety training for your employees. They should have access to written safety information related to the company’s policies and best practices, like wearing safety glasses, but also participate in physical training that ensures they understand how to use tools and safety gear.
Create a Safety Team
Creating an employee-led safety team/committee is a good way to focus on the importance of workplace safety while ensuring that your employees feel a sense of ownership. A safety team can inspect processes and job sites, discuss the need for training, create protocols, and more.
Create a Return-to-Work Plan
Employees injured on the job often need time off to heal and recover. However, they’re often able to resume light duties before they would be able to return to their regular responsibilities. A return-to-work plan ensures that employees can come back to work as soon as possible, improving their recovery, and reducing the amount of disability pay they require. That in turn drives down the costs of your workers’ compensation insurance.
Create a Drug-and-Alcohol-Free Workplace
While plumbers face many risks on the job, drug and alcohol use can dramatically increase the likelihood of a workplace accident. By creating a drug-and-alcohol-free workplace and enforcing that through drug testing, safety training, and other means, you can reduce the risk to your employees and your business, while also cutting the cost of workers’ compensation premiums.
Getting workers’ comp insurance can be challenging for many businesses. Not all insurance carriers offer this type of coverage. And those that do have strict policies from their underwriters that may limit the level of risk they can take on.
You’ll also find that the landscape can be confusing in other ways. Some states require you to purchase coverage through their state-specific funds, while others want you to buy from private insurers.
If you’re having trouble finding workers’ comp insurance for plumbers, Kickstand Insurance can help. We work with plumbers and plumbing companies of all sizes across the United States to help them find the right coverage to protect their businesses and employees.
Getting workers’ comp coverage with us is simple, too. It takes about five minutes to complete the online form and provide us with some basic information about your business. Once we have that information, one of our experts will dig into the details to find ways to reduce your costs while providing the comprehensive protection you and your employees deserve.
Workers’ compensation coverage is incredibly important. It protects your employees while also safeguarding your business from fines, fees, and lawsuits. Get a quote and find the right policy in just a few minutes.