27: Workers’ Compensation Claims and Travelers

Facebook Post - Ep 27
Listen to this Episode

Are your employees covered for any injury while out of town on business?

If you have employees that travel, even if occasionally, you need to understand what claims will be accepted and make sure your properly covered.

A workers’ compensation claim must arise out of and occur “in the course (or scope) of employment”

“Arise out of” typically means there’s a causal connection between the conditions under which the employee worked and the injury.

“In the course of employment” has to do with the time, place and circumstances of the accident.

The Policy 

Make sure that your work comp insurance company is licensed in all the states where your employees might travel.

Work comp insurance is state specific and not all insurance companies are licensed or authorized to write work comp in every state

Have your insurance agent verify that all the states where you might send an employee on business are listed in either section 3a or 3c of the policy’s information page. Section 3c is know as “Other States Insurance” and it extends coverage to the states listed in that section.

Two categories of traveling employees:

  • The ones who regularly work at your company’s workplace and occasionally go out to a meeting or conference weather it’s in town or out of town; and,
  • The ones who are mostly on the road and only show up to your workplace once in awhile, if at all. These are typically employees like sales people or home healthcare workers.

Coming and going rule:

Work comp does not apply to travel to and from work.

There are several exceptions:

  • Changing Work Sites
  • Corporate Vehicle
  • Performance of Duties
  • Special Errand

The work comp courts are pretty liberal in their coverage determination in travel cases.

Two important aspects that have to be examined when making a coverage determination.

Dual purpose rule:

If a trip involves both a business and a personal purpose then it is understood to be within the course of employment as long as the trip wold have been taken even if it had not coincided with the personal agenda. In other words, the employment must be the reason for the travel, not the employee’s personal agenda.

Activity analysis:

Was the employee engaged in an activity that originated in, and was in furtherance of, your business affairs at the time of the injury.

Did the employee deviate form the business activity for personal purposes?

Conclusion:

If you have employees that travel make sure your workers’ compensation insurance policy provides coverage in all the states where you might send an employee on business.

In order to determine if an employee’s injury while traveling is compensable, you have to look at the following:

  • Does the coming and going exclusion apply?
  • Does the trip qualify as a business trip under the dual purpose doctrine?
  • Was the activity in the course and scope of employment?

As an employer, it is important to have a basic understanding of this subject, to make sure your work comp policy provides coverage in all the states you need, and to help your employees with a general understanding of what activities may not be covered. Have them listen to this episode or print and distribute the show notes as a way to educate them.

About the author, Thomas

I have 20 of years insurance industry experience in C-level management, focusing on all aspects of workers compensation, risk management, loss control, employee benefits, HR, payroll and professional employer organization (“PEO”) operations. Currently, I am the owner and CEO of Humanly HR, and founder and host of SmallBiz Brainiac; a podcast providing employer intelligence to small business owners.

Leave a Comment