Workers Comp Insurance For California Roofers
June 27, 2011
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Workers Comp Insurance for Small California Roofing Contractors

Developing a working knowledge of California workers compensation laws is one of the most important tasks for small business owners to achieve, especially if the business in question is that of a roofing contractor.  While all businesses in California are required to carry workers compensation coverage if they have employees, the requirements for roofing contractors are much more extensive.

Workers Comp Quotes For Small California Roofers

Roofing contractors who possess a C-39 license are required to carry workers compensation coverage even if they have no employees and the penalties are very severe for non-compliance.  Not only are violating roofing contractors exposed to fines and even criminal prosecution in some instances, the workers compensation requirement is one of the most heavily enforced regulations by the CSLB.  While the workers comp requirements are quite rigid, roofers do have several options discussed below that can help defray some of the costs associated with this law.

Are Self Employed California Roofers With No Employees Covered By Workers Comp Insurance?

Self employed roofers with no employees in California have the option of including or excluding themselves from workers compensation coverage.  For obvious reasons, excluding oneself from coverage will result in a substantial reduction in workers comp premiums at the expense of coverage for the injured owner.  These options are discussed at depth below.

Workers Comp Insurance Option 1

The first option for California roofers is to be included in workers comp coverage.   If the self employed roofer in question was to be injured on the job, he or she would be entitled to the same benefits afforded all employees covered under the California workers compensation system.  Of course, this option is much more expensive than the alternative of excluding coverage.

Workers Comp Insurance Option 2

The second option for California roofers, (and why this option even exists is quite strange), is for the sole owner with no employees to exclude him or herself from coverage.  This option essentially means that while a workers comp policy exists for the owner, no coverage is provided in the event of a claim. Confused? Think insurance policy that does not provide any insurance coverage.  Why would a self employed California roofer choose option two?  Cost.  A workers comp policy for a self employed roofer that excludes himself from coverage can be had for a little over $600 per year in some instances where there has been no lapse in coverage, while to actually be covered by the policy, will usually cost several thousand due to the high frequency and severity of workers comp claims for roofers.

Why Is Workers Comp Required For Roofers With No Employees?

Several years ago, California legislation was introduced and supported mainly by large roofing contractors that were concerned about price competition from smaller roofing contractors who had much lower overhead, especially as most carried no workers comp insurance.  The legislation was designed to greatly reduce the amount of unlicensed roofing construction in the state and level the playing field amongst all roofing contractors large and small.  Caught in the crossfire, however, were legitimate self employed roofing contractors who became forced to buy workers comp insurance, despite having no employees.

How Small Roofers Can Reduce Workers Comp Insurance Costs

As the major market for small California roofers is State Fund Insurance, working with an experienced insurance agent familiar with State Fund can save a lot of money.  Most standard programs for self employed roofers range between $600 and $1300 per year when the owner is excluded, but discounts can be had for roofers that qualify for selected group associations.  Most associations will have prerequisites that require a clear claims history and no lapse in workers comp coverage.  (Newly licensed roofers are generally exempt from the lapse in coverage requirement).

In addition, the following practices can help roofing contractors maintain low workers comp costs:

-Have a written safety program in place.

-Always use safety tie-offs when working on sloped roofs or other dangerous roofing conditions.

-Complete background checks on potential employees to spot dangerous lifestyle characteristics that could lead to dangerous workplace activities.

If you have further questions about workers comp insurance for small roofing contractors, feel free to contact our agency and we’d be happy to answer any questions you may have.

This post was provided for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal, technical or industry specific advice.

Jeremy Schaedler

El Dorado Hills, CA


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