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How do I buy workers’ compensation insurance?

Oregon has a voluntary competitive market comprised of more than 300 companies licensed to sell workers' compensation insurance. Most of these companies sell their product through independent agents.


If you are refused voluntary coverage by one or more of these insurance companies, you can obtain coverage through the Oregon Workers' Compensation Insurance Plan or what is commonly known as the assigned risk plan.


There are currently three companies who process policies and claims for the assigned risk plan. These companies are SAIF, Liberty Mutual, and Travelers Indemnity. Premiums paid to these companies go to the assigned risk plan and their costs are refunded by the State of Oregon.


Before you can apply to the assigned risk plan, one company must first turn you down for workers' compensation coverage. We suggest if you have any other form of insurance (automobile or homeowner), first contact the insurance agent who sold you those lines of coverage. Often, that agent will be able to place your coverage with a company the agent represents. This is to your advantage because you have an established credit history with the agent. Sometimes you may be able to get them to write a "business package," which can also include workers' compensation coverage.


If one insurer turns you down, you can apply directly to the assigned risk plan by calling the National Council on Compensation Insurance at 800-622-4123 (toll-free). You may apply by phone by selecting the "Assigned Risk" option on the recording. Ask NCCI to fax you an application, or you may request NCCI to take your application over the phone. Any insurance agent can help you complete the faxed application. You can also access the application online at www.ncci.com.


If your current coverage is in the assigned risk plan, you can pursue coverage elsewhere in the voluntary market at any time. If you find an insurer outside of the assigned risk plan that is willing to take your coverage, you must give to your current insurer in the assigned risk plan 30 days’ written notice of your intent to cancel your policy. You will be subject to a minimum premium for the period of time your policy was in force but you will not suffer a short-rate cancellation penalty for breaking the insurance contract before it expired.


If you have questions, call the Workers’ Compensation Small Business Ombudsman at 503-378-4209. We may be able to suggest some insurance markets and insurance agents that serve certain industry niches. The Yellow Pages and the Internet are also helpful resources.