An Employer's Guide to Workers’ Compensation in North Dakota

Learn the basics about workers’ compensation insurance coverage and claims for a North Dakota business owner.



Most North Dakota 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 North Dakota as a business owner and employer.

Who is Required to Have Workers’ Comp Insurance?

If your North Dakota business has employees, you’re required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. According to state law, “Each individual who performs services for another for remuneration is presumed to be an employee of the person for which the services are performed, unless it is proven that the individual is an independent contractor . . . .” However, there are exceptions for:

  • people who do work that is “casual” and not in the course of your regular business or trade
  • an employer’s spouse
  • an employer’s child age 21 or younger; and
  • members of a corporation’s board of directors not employed in any other way by the corporation.

There are also other exceptions not covered here. In addition, coverage for business owners, such as sole proprietors, partners in partnerships, and officers of business corporations is optional.

Who Administers Workers’ Comp Insurance in North Dakota?

North Dakota Workforce Safety & Insurance Organization (WSI or “the Organization”) is the primary state agency that handles workers’ comp claims. Most of the law for WC insurance is contained in North Dakota’s Workers’ Compensation Act (Title 65 of the North Dakota Century Code). In addition to the Act, there are also administrative rules that cover workers’ compensation in North Dakota.

Where Can You Get Workers’ Comp Insurance?

North Dakota is one of four states where workers’ compensation insurance is provided exclusively through the state itself rather than through private insurance companies. You can apply for WC insurance online using the WSI’s online application. Because insurance is provided by the state, there is no option to self-insure.

What Steps Should You Take if an Employee Gets Hurt?

For injuries where your employee doesn’t seek immediate medical help, use the Organization’s online system to file an Incident Report. For other injuries, use the Organization’s online system to file a Form OFROI, First Report of Injury. Check the Organization’s online services webpage for more information.

Beyond these initial steps, there are subsequent steps to the WC claims process, not covered here.

What If You Don’t Believe Your Employee Has a Valid Claim?

If you think your employee’s workers’ comp claim is partly or totally invalid, you must notify the Organization of your concerns within 14 days of the initial claim. The Organization may then choose to conduct an informal review of the matter. If you are unhappy with the results of that review, you can request a formal hearing conducted by the Organization. Beyond WSI hearings, you also can appeal to the North Dakota District Court, and, ultimately, the state Supreme Court. Check WSI’s Disputing a Claim webpage for additional details.

You may also choose to submit a Fraud Investigation Referral to the Organization if you believe fraud is involved.

Additional Information

There are many other workers’ compensation requirements for North Dakota 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, the North Dakota Workforce Safety & Insurance Organization website, and the Organization’s Employer Information document.

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