Frequently Asked Questions: Workers’ Compensation in Iowa

July 2, 2018

As a business owner, it’s important to be prepared for anything; including making sure you have insurance that protects your employees in the event of an accident or injury.

But what exactly is workers’ compensation and how does it work here in Iowa?


Q: What is workers’ compensation?

A: Workers’ compensation is a form of insurance coverage that employers purchase to help protect employees from the expenses associated with worksite accidents and injuries. It is separate from any health insurance that an employee may also receive through their employer. In Iowa, state statute requires most employers to provide benefits to employees who have injuries related to their employment. These benefits can include medical care costs, disability benefits, rehabilitation benefits, and death benefits to dependents.


Q: Who is eligible?

A: According to the Iowa Division of Workers’ Compensation, “Most employees who are injured in Iowa, working under contract of hire made in Iowa, or whose employment is principally localized in Iowa, are eligible for benefits if they have a job-related injury.”

“There are few classifications of employees who are exempt from the law, and therefore not eligible for benefits” (Iowa Division of Workers’ Compensation, 2018).

In addition, “Proprietors (independent contractors), limited liability company members, and partners are not considered employees but may elect to be covered by purchasing a valid workers’ compensation insurance policy specifically including the proprietor or partner” (Iowa Division of Workers’ Compensation, 2018).


Q: Who pays for benefits?

A: Iowa law mandates that employers provide workers’ compensation insurance through a private insurer, or as a self-insurer (if applicable). As with many property and casualty insurance transactions, the employer would pay the insurance premium with the insurer presenting the injured employee with workers’ compensation benefits. If an employer were self-insured, they would pay the benefits directly to the employee. The payment of these benefits is either managed by the insurance carrier or by what is known as a Third-Party Administrator (TPA).


Q: How are disputes handled?

A: In instances of employee-employer disputes, these can usually be resolved through communication between employer, employee, and the respective insurance provider. In cases where disagreements cannot be resolved, a contested case proceeding may be brought before the state workers’ compensation commissioner.


Q: What happens if an employer fails to provide workers’ compensation coverage? 

A: If an employer fails to provide appropriate insurance coverage to an employee, they may be liable to an employee for workers’ compensation benefits or civil damages.


For more information, please visit the Iowa Division of Workers’ Compensation.

Source: Iowa Division of Workers’ Compensation