By Bob Holtzman
For trucking professionals, taking care of yourself behind the wheel can already be more complicated given the payload you’re hauling. But when you throw other moving vehicles, winding roads, various weather conditions, and government regulations into the mix it makes the job even more of a liability. This is why workers’ compensation packages are so important in the trucking industry, and so often used compared to other industries.
For instance, in Washington, one in every 13 truck drivers suffered some sort of injury annually. With this in mind, it’s important for trucking professionals to understand the need for an effective workers’ compensation program.
How Workers’ Comp Works
Most people know the basics of workers’ compensation, in so much as it’s a government-required way to protect employees of all industries who may become injured on the job. Given the element of danger that comes with trucking, having protection in place to cover things like illness, disability or disfigurement that occur because of the job itself is a necessity.
Another piece of protection that is just as valuable is having commercial truck insurance for the companies trucking individuals work for. Commercial truck insurance is an effective piece of coverage that provides protection for trucking companies in the event a claim is made, saving a company financially during litigation.
When it comes to financial support for employees, workers’ compensation provides this kind of help to cover medical costs, lost wages, or disability payments. Employees need to report any injury or illness as a result of their job to their employer and file a claim immediately.
Workers’ Comp in Trucking
On the level, workers’ compensation works no differently in trucking as compared to other industries. The basics are the same to a certain degree: an employee is injured, they make a claim, and they are provided for financially and legally. But one thing to note, however, is that many truck drivers are not necessarily employees of a commercial trucking company. Many truck drivers are owner-operators who are not considered an employee for the trucking company; meaning the company is not required to make a workers’ comp payout if a driver is injured.
For those owners/operators, the trucking company CAN elect to include them in their workers’ compensation program if they choose to. Or, they may select another alternative, called Occupational Accident Injury Coverage, where the owner-operator purchases his own coverage for medical benefits and some disability coverage in the event of an injury while on the job.
The entire configuration of workers’ comp for employees and Occ/Acc coverage for independent contractors can be very confusing and the many variables that need to be considered play a role in determining the best solution. This is where a trained insurance broker will assist in the process.
Regardless of the situation, understanding workers' compensation limits and the importance of commercial truck insurance can make a huge difference in financial and legal issues down the road.
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