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Updated: April 26, 2024

Employer’s guide to North Dakota workers' compensation insurance

Published By:

Jon Davis

This image appears in an article about North Dakota's workers' compensation requirements.

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Under North Dakota law, most businesses are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. But understanding the regulations and whether they apply to your business can take some time. In this guide, we’ll cover North Dakota’s workers’ compensation requirements, including which employers need to have a policy, what a policy typically covers, and how businesses in North Dakota purchase coverage.

How does workers’ compensation coverage protect North Dakota employers and employees?

In many cases, workers’ compensation can help shield employees from the financial burdens of on-the-job injuries and occupational illnesses. For instance, if an employee should experience a work-related injury or illness and need to spend time away from work, it can offer partial wage replacement and medical coverage.


On the flip side, workers’ compensation serves as a protective measure for employers. It can act as a safeguard against potential litigation or state-assessed penalties that may arise from injuries or illnesses that happen in the workplace.


Now that we better understand how workers’ comp benefits employers and employees, let’s find out which companies must carry it.

What are North Dakota’s workers’ compensation requirements?

In a nutshell, any business that hires employees to work in North Dakota or has a business location in North Dakota is required to have workers’ compensation insurance. North Dakota law requires businesses to apply for workers’ compensation insurance before they hire their first employee. This also applies to out-of-state employers with at least 25% of their payroll paid to North Dakota workers.


Are there any exemptions?

There are some businesses that are exempt under North Dakota law, including the ones listed in the table below.


Some exceptions to know
  • Business owners and spouses
  • Partners in a partnership
  • Corporate officers
  • Newspaper delivery personnel
  • Certain licensed real estate brokers
  • Farm and ranch labor
  • Custom farm operations
  • Household domestic workers
  • Sole proprietors
  • Federal and railroad employees
  • Employees operating a place of worship
  • Volunteer services


There are some additional exceptions worth noting, particularly in agriculture. For example, companies that are based outside of North Dakota and enter the state to perform agricultural services are required to purchase workers’ compensation coverage, regardless of the number of days in operation.


Any business exempt from North Dakota workers’ compensation rules can opt to purchase elective coverage, which must be approved by North Dakota Workforce Safety & insurance (WSI).

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What does workers’ compensation insurance cover in North Dakota?

North Dakota workers’ compensation provides a variety of benefits and services to employees, including the following:


Medical benefits

North Dakota workers’ comp pays for all reasonable and necessary medical expenses prescribed by a physician that can be attributed to a work-related injury. This includes reimbursement for any personal expenses that may be incurred during the course of treatment including mileage payments, meal reimbursements, parking expenses, and any other expenses related to treatment.


Wage-loss benefits

North Dakota workers’ comp offers wage-loss benefits for the following:

  • Temporary partial disability
  • Temporary total disability
  • Permanent total disability


Employees are eligible for wage-loss benefits if they miss 5 or more consecutive days of work. If an employee is determined to be temporarily or permanently disabled, they may receive additional benefits for each dependent child they currently support.


Wage loss benefits can be terminated if:

  • An employee is offered temporary modified duties
  • An employee is released by their medical provider to return to their regular job
  • A employee receives compensation for permanent injuries


Return to work services

North Dakota offers a variety of services designed to help an employee get back to work. These benefits include a dedicated case manager, vocational services, retraining, and work search assistance.


Permanent partial impairment benefits

Along with wage benefits, any employee declared permanently partially disabled is eligible to receive an additional monetary award based on the injury suffered.


Death benefits

If an employee dies from a work-related accident, WSI will pay for funeral expenses and survivor benefits. If there are no spouse or eligible children, will pay out a lump sum to a sibling or siblings, a parent, or grandparent.


Moving on, let’s find out how companies go about obtaining a workers’ comp policy in North Dakota.

How do North Dakota employers purchase workers’ compensation insurance?

North Dakota uses a monopolistic state fund, meaning all employers, no matter how risky the industry, are guaranteed coverage under North Dakota Workforce Safety & Insurance. We should point out that the state does not permit private insurers to write workers’ compensation policies.


An employer should have an account with WSI before hiring their first employee. To obtain workers’ compensation insurance, all prospective employers will first need to complete an application on the WSI website.


Are there penalties for not having the proper workers’ comp coverage in place?

There can be some steep penalties for North Dakota employers who fail to obtain workers’ compensation insurance. Here are some things to keep in mind.


  • If an employer is found to go without coverage, they can be required to pay the premium for the entire period that the business has been uninsured.
  • In addition, an employer can also be responsible for the actual costs of any claims submitted by an injured worker.
  • Employees can also bring suit against an uninsured employer for any damages caused by the injury.
  • In some cases, the state may also issue a stop-work order for any uninsured business and charge a one-time penalty of $10,000, with an additional penalty of $100 for each day thereafter that a company remains uninsured.
  • Any employer that uses the services of a subcontractor that has a cease and desist order for not being properly insured can be fined $5,000, along with $100 per day for each day the violation occurs.

What happens when an employee is injured at work?

Depending on the injury suffered, an employee should seek medical care at the nearest emergency room. If the injury does not require emergency treatment, employees will need to notify their employer of the injury before seeking medical treatment.


WSI encourages an employer representative to accompany an employee when they seek treatment to better understand the level of injury and any restrictions that may be imposed by the treating physician. Employees are also required to provide employers with a Doctor’s Report of Injury (C3) form after the initial medical treatment, and after any subsequent treatment.


Immediately after an injury has been reported, an employer is required to complete the First Report of Injury form (FROI). The claim can be filed online, faxed to WSI at (701) 328-3820, or mailed to WSI headquarters.


Can an injured employee use their own physician?

Maybe. In many cases, an employer will have a list of Designated Medical Providers that employees can choose from. When choosing a medical provider, an employer can choose a single provider, a group of providers, and or any combination of providers that are able to treat occupational injuries.


If an employer does not have a designated medical provider or list of providers, an employee is free to use the physician of their choice.


More resources for employers in North Dakota

For more information on North Dakota workers’ compensation requirements, employers can contact WSI at (800) 777-5033 or send an email directly from their website. Other resources available include the following:

Why workers’ compensation’ insurance is important for North Dakota employers

Workers’ compensation insurance is more than just a requirement; it can be a “win-win” situation for both employees and employers. On the one hand, businesses are shielded from potentially costly litigation as well as state-imposed penalties for failing to have a policy. Employees get to have piece of mind that if an on-the-job injury occurs and they need to miss work, they’ll may be eligible for partial income protection and medical coverage. If you have any questions regarding workers’ compensation coverage, we can help guide you in the right direction.


Please note all material in this article is for educational purposes only and does not constitute tax, benefits or legal advice. You should always contact a qualified tax, legal or financial professional, in your area for comprehensive tax or legal advice.

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Jon Davis is the Sr. Content Marketing Manager at OnPay. He has over 15 years of experience writing for small and growing businesses. Jon lives and works in Atlanta.