There were over 61,000 workplace injuries and illnesses reported in the private sector in 2021. This is a rate of 3.2 cases per 100 full-time workers. Worker injuries can be financially crippling to you and your business. You will need comprehensive Wisconsin workers compensation insurance to protect your employees from medical costs and you from possible employee lawsuits from your business operations.

What is Workers Compensation Insurance?

Workers’ compensation insurance is a policy that protects your workers when they experience injuries and illnesses at your business. Most states legally mandate this policy for businesses that meet the state’s specific requirements.


Workers comp pays out various benefits to workers, which include:

  • Medical costs
  • Employee wages
  • Death benefits
  • Vocational training
  • Disability benefits


Workers’ compensation insurance often has a policy called employer’s liability. This policy protects your business from employee lawsuits that result from their injuries. Employer’s liability will help pay to legally defend your business from these lawsuits and any payments you are liable for.


What are the Types of Disability Benefits?

Common disability benefits for your employees under Wisconsin workers compensation requirements include temporary partial, temporary total, permanent partial, and permanent total.

  • Temporary partial: A benefit that covers lost income from a temporary injury where the employee cannot do as much work as they normally do.
  • Temporary total: This benefit covers lost wages for an employee that is temporarily disabled and cannot perform work until they have recovered.
  • Permanent partial: A disability benefit that pays out based on a percentage of how impaired the worker is with low hope of recovery.
  • Permanent total: Pays benefits to a worker based on a permanent disability that leaves them unable to work and is unlikely to reach recovery.
  • Death benefits: These benefits are paid to surviving members of an employee’s family killed by a work-related injury or illness. 


What is a Ghost Policy?

A workers comp ghost policy protects self-employed business owners and helps them comply with state laws without offering workers’ compensation protection. It is often used in the contracting industry, where you must meet insurance requirements to bid on contracts. Ghost policies may not be available in Wisconsin.

When Do You Need to Get Workers Compensation Insurance in Wisconsin?

Workers compensation in Wisconsin is required in a few different situations as defined by the Workers’ Compensation Act. These include:

  • Businesses that employ three or more full-time or part-time workers
  • If you have one full-time or part-time employee that you $500 or more every calendar quarter that does work in Wisconsin
  • Your farming business which employs six or more workers on the same day for 20 days during a calendar year. Wisconsin defines a calendar year as January to December. Your relatives may not count as employees.

Out-of State-Employers

Workmans comp in WI is required even for out-of-state employers as long as they employ Wisconsin workers. To conform with Wisconsin workers comp laws, you must have a policy with an insurance company licensed to write workers’ compensation in Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Compensation Rating Bureau must endorse this policy.

Do I Need Workers’ Comp if My Employees Work from Home?

Maybe. Working from home comes with its own set of challenges, like carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis. Employees who work remotely still qualify for coverage under Wisconsin workers compensation laws.

What Government Agency Oversees Workers’ Compensation in Wisconsin?

Wisconsin’s department of workers compensation is called the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development. This department has several divisions that act  as Wisconsin’s workers compensation commission by building and strengthening the workforce through the following activities:


  • Making sure companies strictly follow the requirements of the Workers’ Compensation Act of Wisconsin.
  • Ensuring prompt payment of benefits by private insurance companies and self-insured employers.
  • Resolves appeals to workers comp claims
  • Help employees learn how to file a workers comp claim.
  • Help medical providers with the information they need to assist an injured worker.

Which Businesses Are Exempt from Getting Workers Compensation Insurance in Wisconsin?

Certain businesses are exempt from workers comp insurance in Wisconsin. These exemptions cover companies that hire specific categories of employees. These categories include:

  • Domestic servants
  • Farm employees who are certain relatives of you
  • Certified members of religious sects
  • Sole proprietors and members of limited liability companies
  • Volunteers of non-profit organizations
  • Employees of Native American tribal enterprises with sovereign immunity
  • Real estate agents, brokers, and salespersons who satisfy certain conditions

How Much Money Does Wisconsin’s Workers Compensation Insurance Give?

Wisconsin workman’s comp will pay employees a maximum amount of disability benefits for their injury or illness. This number is based on Wisconsin’s weekly compensation rate (WCR), currently $1,870.50. 


Temporary partial disability ($1,247 x % of wage loss) weekly
Temporary total disability $1,247 weekly
Permanent partial disability $430 weekly
Permanent total disability $1,247 weekly
Death benefits $1,247 weekly
Maximum burial expense $10,000
Maximum payment to spouse $1,247 per weekly


These numbers are the maximum amount. The benefits your employees receive are based on their average weekly wage. The average weekly wage of an employee is calculated based on the employee’s work schedule and wage structure.

How Long Will an Employee Wait Before Receiving Benefits?

In many cases, workers compensation insurance companies in Wisconsin cannot pay employees benefits right away. There is a three-day waiting period for all temporary disabilities lasting seven days or less. There is no waiting period if your employee is out for over seven days.

Penalties for Not Getting Workers Compensation in Wisconsin

Workers comp laws in Wisconsin define specific penalties for not carrying workers’ compensation insurance. If you do not comply with these laws, you may be subject to the following penalties:

  • A penalty payment of double the insurance premiums you should have been paying when you were uninsured.
  • $100 penalty for each day you are uninsured for up to seven days
  • Closure of your business and suspension of all work-related activities
  • Personal liability for benefit claims for injured workers. These include the standard claims your Wisconsin worker’s comp policy would cover, like medical costs, employee wages, and disability benefits.


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