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The A-Z guide to Tennessee Workers' Comp

Tennessee Workers’ Comp Requirements

Tennessee workers’ comp requirements stipulate that if you are a business owner in Tennessee with five or more employees, your Tennessee business is required to carry workers’ comp insurance. This insurance provides benefits to employees who suffer work-related injuries or illnesses.

Required with



Any business in a very high risk industry, even with 1 employee, must have coverage.

Who can be exempt?

  • Independent contractors
  • LLC members
  • Business partners
  • Sole proprietors 

Is workers’ comp insurance required in Tennessee?

Many businesses in Tennessee require workers’ compensation insurance. It is mandatory for businesses with five or more employees. However, businesses in high-risk industries like construction must carry workers’ compensation even if they have only a single employee.

Do you need workers’ comp coverage if you’re self-employed?

No, Tennessee does not require self-employed professionals to carry workers’ compensation insurance so long as they are the company’s only employee. This also applies to self-employed individuals working in high-risk industries, such as construction.

Who’s exempt from Tennessee workers’ comp requirements?

In addition to self-employed professionals, Tennessee exempts many different people from the workers’ compensation insurance requirement.

These include the following: Independent contractors (so long as they are actually independent contractors and are not treated as employees), LLC members, Business partners and Sole proprietors. 

If you fall into one of the above-mentioned categories, you can still elect to purchase workers’ compensation insurance to protect yourself in the case of a workplace injury. 

How much is workers’ comp coverage in Tennessee?

Your Tennessee workers’ comp rate will depend on the following factors:

  • The type of business you have
  • The size of your payroll
  • Your safety record
  • Claim history
workers comp policy cost

How can Tennessee small business owners save money on workers' comp?

To reduce the cost of workers’ compensation insurance in Tennessee, small business owners can take the following steps:

  • Make sure your workplace is safe by implementing a comprehensive workplace safety program to prevent workplace incidents and injuries.
  • Always follow the rules set by OSHA to maintain a safe working environment and prevent accidents.
  • Develop a return-to-work program that facilitates the smooth transition of injured employees back into the workforce, reducing the duration of disability claims.
  • Accurately classify employees based on their job duties to ensure proper categorization for insurance purposes.
  • Explore the possibility of receiving dividends annually after a thorough audit to potentially offset insurance costs.
  • Enforce a drug and alcohol-free workplace policy to mitigate the risk of accidents and injuries caused by impaired employees.

How does workman’s comp work in TN?

Tennessee workers’ compensation insurance works similarly to all other states. The process usually goes like this:

  1. Pay the premium to obtain coverage for the business and its employees.
  2. Benefit from protection for a year, ensuring financial security in the event of workplace injuries or illnesses.
  3. Complete a year-end audit to verify the accuracy of the initial payroll estimate.
  4. Receive a reimbursement check if the payroll estimate was higher than the actual amount, or pay an additional premium if the estimate was lower, ensuring fair and accurate insurance costs.

What does workers’ comp cover in Tennessee?

Workers who file a workers' comp claim in Tennessee can receive benefits for the following:

workers comp covers medical bills

Medical bills

Any medical bills related to the injury or accident

workers comp covers lost wages

Lost Wages

A portion of the injured worker's weekly wage

workers comp pays death benefits

Death Benefits

Burial costs and money to the spouse or kids

Workers' comp coverage also protects employers from legal action. This means that if an employee sues your business because of a workplace injury, the insurance will cover the legal costs of the case.

How can I purchase workers’ comp insurance in Tennessee?

Tennessee-based businesses can purchase workers’ compensation insurance in several ways.

  1. You can compare your options with private insurance companies and then choose the one that offers the best mix of affordability and protection. Kickstand Insurance can help here. 
  2. If your business doesn’t qualify for workers’ comp from a conventional private insurance companies because of risk, you can buy from the state’s assigned risk plan, which is available through NCCI
  3. If your business is large enough (sufficient cash flow), you may choose to self-insure. To do this, you must meet Tennessee’s self-insurance requirements, pay the appropriate fees, and file the correct forms with the state government. Note that this option is usually reserved for enterprise-level businesses.

What happens if I don’t have workers’ comp insurance in TN?

Failing to carry workers’ comp insurance in Tennessee if your business is required to do so can mean facing a range of ramifications, including the following:

  • Paying a 25% penalty to the employee in question for not paying the state’s mandated temporary disability benefits.
  • Paying up to $5,000 for failing to comply with requirements.
  • Self-insured firms must pay a penalty for not filing claim forms promptly.
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What are workers’ comp death benefits in TN?

While workers’ compensation insurance does cover the costs of medical care and lost wages, it will also provide benefits in the event of a work-related death. Tennessee workers’ comp death benefits include the following:

  • $20,000 to the decedent’s estate if there were no heirs/dependents.
  • 50% of the employee’s average weekly earnings to the surviving spouse if there were no dependents.
  • Two-thirds of the employee’s average weekly earnings if there is a surviving spouse and dependents. 
  • Up to $10,000 in burial expenses.

How does workers comp insurance protect TN employers?

While there’s a lot of focus on how workers’ compensation insurance protects employees, it’s important to understand the role it plays in safeguarding your business. 

Without workers’ compensation insurance, if an employee were to be injured on the job or while performing work-related duties, or to develop a work-related illness, you could be responsible for paying medical costs, lost wages, and other costs out of your own pocket. 

With workers’ compensation insurance, the insurance company pays those costs, which limits your liability and removes a significant financial risk.

How do workers’ comp claims work in TN?

Workers’ comp insurance in TN works similarly to other states. It’s designed to cover the cost of medical care for work-related injuries and diseases. 

In addition to medical costs, workers’ comp insurance also usually pays at least a portion of lost wages and may provide coverage for prescription medication costs, rehabilitative and occupational therapy, and more. Temporary partial, permanent total, and permanent partial disability benefits are usually included in these policies. 

How do I get a workers’ comp insurance policy with Kickstand Insurance?

Start by filling out a short online form about your business. We’ll use that info to get you an estimated quote. Then, one of our experienced agents will contact you to review the quote and make sure you are getting the absolutely lowest rate possible for your business. Once the quote is finalized, you’re ready to buy the policy - often with coverage starting that day!

Learn more about Workers' Comp in Tennessee

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