Most New Hampshire businesses with employees are required to pay for workers’ compensation insurance (WC or workers’ comp insurance). The insurance provides compensation to employees who suffer work-related injuries. Here are some basic facts that you need to know about workers’ comp insurance in New Hampshire as a business owner and employer.
With virtually no exceptions, if your New Hampshire business has even one employee, and even if that employee is part-time, you are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. This includes employees who are family members and employers who are non-profits. Business owners and self-employed persons, such as sole proprietors and partners in partnerships, are not required to be covered by WC insurance. In addition, corporations with three or less corporate officers and LLCs with three or less LLC members, and with no other employees, are not required to be covered by workers’ compensation insurance.
The New Hampshire Department of Labor (DOL) is the primary state agency that handles workers’ comp claims. Most of the law for WC insurance is contained in New Hampshire’s Workers’ Compensation Law (Chapter 281-A of the New Hampshire Statutes). In addition to the Act, there are also administrative rules promulgated by the DOL that cover workers’ compensation in New Hampshire.
In New Hampshire, workers’ compensation insurance is available through private insurance companies. If you are unable to obtain coverage through a private insurer, an agency or carrier refusing to provide coverage must provide you with information about coverage under the Assigned Risk Plan of the National Council of Compensation Insurance, including the required application form. There is also an option to self-insure, but this may not be advisable for smaller businesses, in part because it requires that a lot of money be set aside to cover potential claims.
When an employee is injured on the job, he or she should immediately fill out a Form 8aWCA, Notice of Accidental Injury or Occupational Disease. As the employer, you should have copies of this form available for employees. The employee should give you a copy of the completed form. The employee also has the right to choose his or her own doctor.
You must file a Form 8WC, First Report of Injury, within five calendar days of first learning of the employee injury. File the form with the Workers’ Compensation Division of the DOL via U.S. Mail, fax, or email. Filing information (addresses and fax numbers) are available on a special webpage the DOL website. Also file the form with your workers’ comp insurance carrier.
Certain minor, or so-called “First Aid,” injuries that result in less than $2,000 in medical expenses and no lost work time do not need to be reported to your insurer. They do, however, need to be reported to the DOL.
Beyond these initial steps, there are subsequent steps to the WC claims process, not covered here.
By filing the initial required reports with the DOL you do not in any way lose rights to later contest a claim. You should attach a note to the forms you file with your insurer stating your concerns about the claim. In most cases, your insurer will handle any disputes from that point forward.
An insurer or employer can issue a Memorandum of Denial within 21 days of receiving notice of an injury. The employee then must request a hearing with the DOL. If the DOL decides the claim is valid, the employer or insurer can request an additional DOL hearing to modify the decision.
Beyond initial DOL hearings, the DOL only occasionally holds further hearings on appeal to the Compensation Appeal Board (CAB). CAB decisions may be appealed to the state supreme court.
The New Hampshire Municipal Association has a webpage that provides additional details about deadlines and procedures relating to denying WC claims.
If you don’t carry workers’ compensation insurance you may be subject to various penalties ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars. Examples include a penalty of up to $2,500 for failing to have workers’ comp coverage in place and a further penalty of up to $100 per day for continuing not to have coverage. Some of the penalty rules are contained in Section 281-A:7 of New Hampshire’s Workers’ Compensation Law.
There are many other workers’ compensation requirements for New Hampshire employers that are not covered here such as putting up posters about workers’ compensation coverage where employees can see them. For more information, see the Nolo website section on workers’ compensation and the New Hampshire Department of Labor website.