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Insurance FAQs

Insurance basics

What does my firm receive from WorkSafeBC?

In return for registering with WorkSafeBC, firms are insured against lawsuits from injured workers. Unlike most private insurance plans, there's no limit to the amount of coverage a business receives. In the case of a severe injury or death, which could cost a firm several million dollars, liability coverage is a valuable benefit. WorkSafeBC ensures that all workers in the province are protected from economic hardships caused by work-related injuries or diseases. When a worker is injured on the job, wage loss and medical costs are covered by WorkSafeBC.

Injured workers are typically entitled to 90 percent of their average net earnings at the time of their injury, up to an annual maximum, after statutory contributions are deducted for income tax, Canada Pension Plan and Employment Insurance. In addition, rehabilitation and retraining costs needed to return a worker to work are paid by WorkSafeBC. If a worker is injured or contracts an occupational disease while on the job, WorkSafeBC covers the worker's medical and wage-loss costs.

Who is covered by WorkSafeBC insurance?

All your paid workers are covered by your insurance, including:

  • Labour contractors who are not registered with WorkSafeBC
  • Shareholders and officers who work for your company
  • Your children, if they work for you and are paid by your firm

What happens if I don't register for insurance coverage with WorkSafeBC?

If you are required to register and don't, you could be charged retroactive premiums. Also, if one of your workers is injured at work, you could be charged the total compensation cost related to that injury.

How do I change my business address?

You can change your business address or other details online: log on to reporting and remitting to change your account information. For personal assistance contact the Employer Service Centre.

Who needs workplace insurance?

Who is required to register for insurance coverage with WorkSafeBC?

Virtually all employers in British Columbia are required by law (under the Workers Compensation Act) to register for insurance with WorkSafeBC. This includes employers in home-based businesses, as well as some contractors, subcontractors and people who are hiring workers such as:

  • Nannies, companions or other caregivers
  • Domestic workers, such as maids
  • Construction or repair workers or contractors
  • Gardeners or landscapers

Do I need to register for insurance coverage if I'm a labour contractor?

Although registration is not mandatory, it is permitted. If you don't qualify for WorkSafeBC insurance, you and your workers are covered by the prime contractor's insurance. The prime contractor is then responsible for paying premiums and reporting any work-related injuries.

Labour contractors include unincorporated individuals or partners who:

  • Have workers and supply labour only to one firm at a time (e.g. a framer with one or more workers in the construction industry)
  • Are not considered workers, do not employ workers or supply major materials or major revenue-producing equipment, but do contract a service to two or more firms on an ongoing basis (e.g. a janitor who has two or more ongoing contracts with two unaffiliated firms)
  • May or may not have workers, but contract a service which includes one piece of major revenue-producing equipment to a business or a person (e.g. a backhoe contractor who supplies a backhoe)

Do I need to register for insurance coverage if I'm a worker?

No. In fact workers cannot register or waive their rights to compensation. A worker is anyone employed full-time, part-time or casually, and who is paid a wage, salary or commission by the job, or on a piecework basis. This includes administration, management and clerical staff as well as labourers.

Do I need to register for insurance coverage if I'm building my own home?

If you take on the role of a general contractor in the construction of your own home, you are required to register, particularly if you hire workers, such as casual labour, to clean up around your site. Registration may be required, even if the subcontractors you hire carry their own coverage. Contact the Employer Service Centre for details. You can also check the registration status of subcontractors working for you by getting a clearance letter.

Do I need to register for insurance coverage if I'm hiring contractors or subcontractors?

Probably. To be sure, contact the Employer Service Centre. Remember, even if you hire subcontractors who carry their own coverage, you should ask for their WorkSafeBC account number. You can verify that they are registered by getting a clearance letter.

How do I know whether my contractor or subcontractor is insured?

You can request a clearance letter that tells you whether a firm, contractor or subcontractor is complying with our registration and payment requirements.

Do I need to register for insurance coverage if my business is only in B.C. temporarily?

The requirement for registration is based on the number of times your business comes (or intends to come) into B.C. This is the criteria for registration:

Registration is required:

  • If your business comes (or intends to come) into B.C. for a total of 15 or more days each year
  • If your business comes (or intends to come) into B.C. for a total of 10 to 14 days as the result of three or more visits within a year
  • If your company operates outside B.C. and establishes a place of business in B.C. or employs B.C. residents
Registration is not required:
  • If your business comes (or intends to come) into B.C. for a total of 10 to 14 days as the result of one or two visits within a year
  • If your business comes (or intends to come) into B.C. nine days or less within a year regardless of the number of visits

For more information, contact the Employer Service Centre to determine your registration requirements.

Note: there are special requirements for out-of-province trucking firms. See trucking industry.

Do I need to register for insurance coverage if I'm a shareholder in an incorporated company?

If you have workers and your business is active in B.C., meaning your firm distributes T4s and remunerates workers, you are required to register. All company shareholders who are actively working in your business are considered to be workers under the Workers Compensation Act and are covered under your company's WorkSafeBC account.

What if I'm working outside of British Columbia?

If a B.C. workers is injured while working in another province, WorkSafeBC will cover the workers' medical and wage loss costs if:

  • The worker's employer is located in B.C.
  • The worker's residence and usual place of employment are in B.C.
  • The employment is such that the worker is required to work both in and out of the province
  • The worker is still working for the same B.C. employer and will return to B.C. in less that six months

If you have operations outside of B.C. and are insured by WorkSafeBC, it doesn't remove your responsibility to comply with the workers' compensation laws in other provinces, in the territories, or in other countries. Check with the other jurisdictions where youre operating.

Is there any other insurance I can get if Im not eligible for worker coverage with WorkSafeBC?

If you are not automatically covered under the Workers Compensation Act, you may be able to apply for Personal Optional Protection (POP).

POP insurance is an optional insurance program for:

  • People whose businesses are unincorporated
  • Partners or proprietors (and proprietors' spouses) in a non-limited company

Apply for optional coverage online, or download the Personal Optional Protection insurance application package

The package contains both the registration and POP forms, which can be returned by mail or fax, or in person at any WorkSafeBC office.

Mail the forms to:

WorkSafeBC, Assessment Department
P.O. Box 5350, Station Terminal
Vancouver, BC V6B 5L5
or fax them to 604.244.6490.

Make sure you sign the form and carefully read the terms and conditions of the coverage. Individuals or firms who aren't required to register but would like to anyway may be able to purchase voluntary coverage. Contact the Employer Service Centre for more details.

Who is exempt from registering with WorkSafeBC?

Homeowners/B.C. residents

You're exempt if:

  • You regularly employ a person or firm for an average of less than eight working hours a week to do work in or around your home
  • You employ a person or firm to provide before and after school care for your children for an average of less than 15 working hours a week
  • You employ a person or firm to do a specific job or jobs for a temporary period of less than 24 working hours

Partners and proprietors

You're exempt if:

  • You or your spouse own an unincorporated business and don't employ workers (spouses include common-law and same sex spouses)

Personal financial holdings

You're exempt if:

  • You own an incorporated personal financial holding company and you don't employ workers other than the principal shareholders. The activities of your company are restricted to the management of personal investments such as:
    • Investments in publicly-traded stocks and bonds
    • Interest bearing financial instruments such as GICs (Guaranteed Investment Certificates)
    • Non-revenue producing land, buildings and/or equipment where there is no development, construction or direct rental activity

Registration for insurance coverage

How much does workplace insurance cost?

Once you are registered, you pay premiums that are directly related to the industry you're engaged in and the amount of your payroll. Premiums are paid annually or quarterly, depending on your account.

If I'm not eligible to register, who pays for my insurance coverage?

If your registration is denied because you're a worker, it means your employer is responsible for your coverage.

Can I apply for insurance online?

Most employers, and individuals who want personal coverage, can apply for coverge online, the fastest way to complete your registration. Complex registrations may be followed up with a call from the Employer Service Centre.

Can I save the information I enter in the online application form and return to it later?

No. For security reasons, you must enter all information and submit the completed form at one time. If you are interrupted while applying, you may have to re-enter the data, since all information is deleted after 20 minutes of inactivity. None of the information you've entered is stored online.

Note: Using the "back" button on your browser will not return you to the information you entered in previous pages. The pages will appear as blank and the information will have to be re-entered.

Is the information I submit online secure?

Yes. For further details, read our security policy.

How else can I apply for coverage?

While applying online is the easiest and fastest way to get insurance, you can also:

How will I know when my application has been processed?

If you apply online:

  • At the end of the session, you will be assigned an Internet Registration Confirmation Number (IRCN). This is a temporary number only. Your permanent WorkSafeBC account number will be e-mailed to you and a letter will follow by mail. You may also be contacted by the Employer Service Centre if we need clarification or additional information.

If you registered by mail or fax:

  • You will receive a letter confirming your registration. You may also be contacted by the Employer Service Centre if we need clarification or additional information.

Insurance costs and payments

How much does workplace insurance cost?

Premiums are directly related to the industry you're engaged in and the amount of your payroll. Premiums must be paid annually or quarterly.

How do you set my rate?

See how we classify your firm and set your rate.

How do I report my payroll and make my payments to WorkSafeBC?

The quickest and easiest ways are to report and pay online from the comfort of your own computer, or by calling our automated phone system at 604.244.6181 or 1.888.922.2768.

If you prefer, you can use the forms we mail you during the year to report you payroll. If your premiums are $1500 a year or less, you'll need to submit the Employer Payroll and Contract Labour Report once a year along with your payment. If your premiums are more than $1500 a year or your work in certain industries, such as forestry or trucking, you'll be required to submit four payments with your Employer's Remittance Forms, as well as a year-end payment with your Employer Payroll and Contract Labour Report if required.

Can I deduct the cost of my WorkSafeBC premiums from my workers' pay cheques?

No. It's against the law to deduct premiums from your workers, either directly or indirectly

What if I disagree with my classification?

If you disagree with a classification decision, you may request a review from the Review Division within 90 days of the date of the decision.

If you have questions about the decision, you may ask to have it clarified by the Assessment Department. If additional information comes to light, the department may reconsider its decision at any time.

Benefits after age 65

Are workers employed past the age of 65 covered by workers' compensation?

Workers' compensation coverage extends to those employed past age 65. Universal coverage is a basic principle of workers' compensation law in B.C., and includes those who work past the standard retirement age of 65.

Must employers pay assessment premiums for workers employed past age 65?

Employers must pay assessment premiums for all workers, no matter their age.

Does a worker's age affect his/her entitlement to WorkSafeBC wage loss and/or permanent disability benefits?

The duration of temporary/permanent disability payments may be affected by a worker's age at the date of injury, where the date of injury is on or after June 30, 2002. Generally, entitlement to WorkSafeBC wage loss and pension benefits end when a worker reaches 65, or, where the worker is 63+ on the date of injury, two years after that date.

The legislation, however, lets WorkSafeBC pay benefits beyond age 65 where evidence verified by an independent source confirms a worker's intent to work past 65. Where WorkSafeBC is satisfied a worker would have continued working past 65 had the injury not occurred, wage loss payments may continue past that age until the date a WorkSafeBC officer has established as the worker's retirement date.

Section 23.1 of the Workers Compensation Act states if a worker is less than age 63 on the date of injury, wage loss and pension benefits continue until 65 or a later retirement date as established by WorkSafeBC. If a worker is 63+ on the date of injury, compensation continues for two years from that date or a later retirement date as established by WorkSafeBC. Entitlement to benefits ends if a worker's disability resolves prior to age 65, or the expiration of the two-year period.

Please note that under the former provisions (legislative/policy provisions that applied to injuries that occurred prior to June 30, 2002) temporary disability benefits didn't stop at age 65, and certain permanent disability benefits continued for the worker's lifetime.

In light of the abolishment of mandatory retirement as of January 1, 2008, what's changed in terms of the duration of WorkSafeBC benefits?

The payment of WorkSafeBC benefits isn't affected by the abolishment of mandatory retirement. WorkSafeBC currently covers workers employed past age 65. Benefits may be paid to workers over 65 where sufficient evidence to establish the worker's intent to work past that age is established.

Why do different rules apply to the duration of compensation payments for workers age 63+?

Section 23.1 of the Workers Compensation Act recognizes 65 as the standard retirement age of workers in B.C. Statistics Canada data supports the general view that, on average, workers retire at or before age 65.

What evidence is considered when WorkSafeBC determines a worker would have retired after age 65?

Policy provides examples of evidence that may assist WorkSafeBC establish a retirement date for workers 63+ on the date of injury (RSCM Policy item #35.30, Duration of Temporary Disability Benefits; RSCM Policy item #41.00, Duration of Permanent Disability Periodic Payments), including:

  • Name of employer worker intended to work for after age 65, description of type of employment to be performed, expected duration of employment
  • Confirmation from employer he/she intended to employ worker after age 65
  • Information from employers, unions, professional associations on normal retirement age for workers in a particular occupation
  • Information from accident employer on whether worker was covered under a pension plan provided by the employer, terms of that plan
  • Information from accident employer or union on whether a collective agreement was in place detailing normal retirement age
  • Other relevant information may also be considered

What's a retirement benefit?

A retirement benefit is compensation set aside by WorkSafeBC for workers entitled to permanent disability benefits and is in addition to those permanent disability periodic payments. A worker may also choose to contribute some of his/her permanent disability periodic payments to the retirement benefit.

The retirement benefit is paid as a lump sum when periodic permanent disability benefits cease (age 65, or the retirement date determined by WorkSafeBC). If a worker dies before 65, the retirement benefit is paid to a named beneficiary/estate.

Retirement benefits are intended to compensate a worker for the impact the worker's permanent disabilities have on his/her ability to accumulate retirement savings (see section 23.2 of the Workers Compensation Act, and Chapter 18 of the RSCM for details on retirement benefits).

Insurance help

How can I get more information?

The Employer Service Centre can help you determine your registration obligations. Call 604.244.6181 or 1.888.922.2768 during regular business hours.

Where can I get technical support?

For web site technical support call our Customer Support Centre at 604.276.3135 or toll-free 1.888.855.2477 between 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (PST), Monday through Friday, or e-mail

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