Having someone work for your company always comes with a liability. Accidents, injuries, and damage to machinery or equipment are always something a company never hopes to deal with but always needs to worry about. Even the most skilled workers and safe workplaces can fall victim to one of these mishaps.
Any legitimate staffing company or platform offers general liability insurance which, as it’s name implies, covers only the liability portion of an accident, injury, or damage. For example, if a client or customer slips on a wet floor due to a spill from a hired worker and injures themselves — general liability would cover the medical costs associated with this injury. This type of insurance is protection for covering any third-party claims against a company.
But what happens if the worker themself were to be harmed or injured on the job? General liability coverage unfortunately wouldn’t help in this situation.
Outside of health insurance, many people automatically think of workers’ compensation. However, as more and more businesses move to engaging with independent contractors, they often find that they are not eligible for workers’ comp coverage because they aren’t actual employees of the company for which they are working. This is where occupational accident insurance comes in.
What is Occupational Accident Insurance?
In short, occupational accident insurance (OAI) is a similar coverage to workers’ compensation in that it covers medical expenses for accidental injuries on the job, related benefits associated with fatalities on the job, and sometimes loss of wages (depending on the insurance provider.)
OAI is a standard insurance product used by contractors across the U.S., particularly amongst truckers. However, outside of the trucking industry, many companies do not require contractors to possess OAI before commencing work — Wonolo does.
Wonolo requires every Wonoloer (contractors on our platform) to be covered by occupational accident insurance prior to starting any job. Contractors have the option to purchase OAI coverage through Wonolo’s insurance provider or furnish their own coverage given that it meets or exceeds Wonolo’s limits.
This type of insurance was pioneered in Germany back in 1884 with the mind-bending name of Berufsgenossenschaften. This system emerged during this time due to growing industrialization and the growth of trade unions. Since then, occupational accident insurance has shape-shifted and evolved to what it is today. Many nations, especially in the EU and other westernized countries, utilize this type of coverage.
Why Should a Worker Have Occupational Accident Insurance?
As mentioned above, OAI is similar to workers’ comp in the amount of coverage that it provides, however, contractors are not eligible for workers’ compensation as they are independently employed.
If a worker is hurt on the job they would be left reliant on their own health insurance coverage. Unfortunately in some cases, general health insurance will not cover their injuries. OAI can provide that extra level of protection in these types of situations — depending on the OAI provider, different benefits are offered.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics — there were approximately 3,658,000 cases of injury or illness on the job in 2015. Sadly, there were also 4,836 fatalities in the workplace during that same year. Although these numbers represent all workers as a whole, not just independent contractors, it is a shocking awakening as to how frequent injuries or accidents in the workplace can be.
What are the Benefits Under Occupational Accident Insurance?
Coverage and benefits can vary depending on the company from which the insurance is purchased. However, Wonolo offers OAI through a provider which offers the following benefits:
- Accident Medical Expenses
- Accidental Death Benefits
- Survivor’s Benefits
- Accidental Dismemberment
- Accidental Paralysis Benefit
- Physical, Occupational or Work Hardening Therapies
- Acupuncture Care and Spinal Manipulation Care
- Mental and Nervous or Depressive Condition
Other OAI providers may offer the following:
- Non-occupational Accident Benefit
- Temporary Total Disability
- Permanent Total Disability
- Hernia and Hemorrhoid Benefit
- Passenger Accident Benefit
Resources and Providers of Occupational Accident Insurance
There are a lot of options and differences when it comes to the benefits of occupational accident insurance and who offers coverage. Luckily, there are many resources out there to answer questions specific to your company and what services or goods you provide. Below you can find a list of helpful links to resources as well as the companies that provide OAI.
- OSH Wiki – a resource for occupational safety and health subjects
- Unique HR – an easy to understand infographic explaining differences between workers’ comp and OAI
- IH Law – a bit more information on OAI from a lawyer’s perspective
- One Beacon
- Trusted Choice
- ATI Insurance Services
- Ooida (specific to trucking industry)
Safety is always the number one priority in the workplace. Since many companies can’t fully protect their independent contractors from an insurance standpoint, occupational accident insurance helps provide that extra peace of mind. If your company has independently employed workers, occupational accident insurance should be a critical requirement before bringing any contractor onboard.
As mentioned earlier — every Wonoloer is required to have OAI coverage even when many other independent contractors are not. Even if the coverage is purchased on their own, they must meet or exceed the benefits outlined above. Please reach out to Wonolo for more details on why we feel it is imperative to provide insurance options for Wonoloers on our platform.