South Carolina workers' compensation insurance: Your ultimate resource


Understanding South Carolina workers' compensation insurance

South Carolina is a state full of charm and a robust variety of businesses across the state. From Charleston to the Lowcountry, the great Palmetto State has much to offer and a vibrant small business scene. 

If you’re a business owner in South Carolina, it’s crucial to protect yourself, your business and your employees with workers’ compensation insurance. 

What is workers' compensation?

Workers' compensation is a state-mandated insurance program for employers with four or more employees. It is designed to provide financial protection for employees who suffer work-related injuries or illnesses and safeguard businesses from legal action.

Without workers’ compensation, the cost of an injured or ill employee’s medical treatment could become the responsibility of your business.

South Carolina workers' compensation laws

In South Carolina, workers' compensation is governed by the South Carolina Workers' Compensation Act. This law requires employers with four or more employees to be covered by an active workers’ compensation insurance policy.

Workers’ comp coverage can be obtained through a provider like Cake Insure. South Carolina’s Workers’ Compensation Commission can approve self-insured requests if businesses:

  • Meet a certain financial standard and
  • Provide three years of audited financial statements

South Carolina’s assigned risk programed — administered by the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) — can also provide workers’ comp coverage.

Employees can verify online if their employer has coverage through the state’s online search tool and can also use South Carolina’s common employer name variations for reference.

South Carolina workers' compensation insurance

Coverage and benefits

Who is Covered?

Policies include protection for full-time and part-time workers, seasonal and temporary employees—as well as your business’s financials.

Exemptions from South Carolina workers’ compensation include: 

  • Casual employees
  • Businesses employing less than four employees or businesses with an annual payroll of less than $3,000
  • Agricultural employees; a state and county fair association; railroads and railway express companies; and federal employees
  • Owner-operator drivers 
  • Certain commission-paid real estate agents who meet the specific threshold requirements

Nonprofits do not have specific exemptions in the state and require coverage.

Covered Injuries and Illnesses

Workers' compensation covers a wide range of work-related injuries and illnesses. This includes physical injuries resulting from accidents, occupational diseases developed over time due to job conditions, and psychological injuries resulting from workplace trauma.

Benefits Provided

South Carolina workers’ comp insurance provides three types of benefits for work injuries:

  • medical benefits
  • lost wages
  • permanent disability

These benefits include:

  • Work-related accidents, injuries and/or illnesses 
  • Missed wages resulting from time away from work for recovery
  • Ongoing care costs for work-related injuries or illnesses
  • Funeral costs for fatal work-related illness or accidents
  • Permanent disability benefits

Under the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act, “there is no recovery for pain and suffering”. 

Benefits received rely on many factors, such as the employee’s: 

  • average weekly wages received from all employers before the injury,
  • injury severity, 
  • ability to continue working.

South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Rates

According to South Carolina law, the maximum weekly compensation rate is equal to 66⅔% of a person’s average weekly wage and cannot exceed the average weekly wage for the previous year.

More information on annual South Carolina workers’ compensation rates can be found here.

South Carolina workers' compensation insurance process

Filing a Workers' Compensation Claim

In the event of a work-related injury or illness, employees must promptly notify their employer and seek medical attention. 

In South Carolina, workers have 90 days from the day of the accident to report an injury to their employer and up to two years for an employer to file a workers’ compensation claim. 

Filing a claim is the responsibility of the employer in the case of a workplace-related injury or illness.

Employers are responsible for reporting the incident to their workers' compensation insurance carrier. The injured employee should complete the necessary forms and provide supporting documentation to initiate the claims process.

Choosing a Healthcare Provider 

If an employer’s insurance accepts your claim, the injured worker should start receiving benefits immediately. 

Employers in South Carolina have the right to select a healthcare provider or panel of providers for their workers' compensation program. 

Employees must seek medical treatment from these designated providers to ensure coverage.

Compensation for missed work

If an employee is out-of-work:

  • Less than seven days: They are not eligible for temporary total disability payments. 
  • More than seven, but less than fourteen days: They are eligible to for lost time benefits beginning on the eighth day. 
  • More than fourteen days: They are eligible for benefits retroactive to the first day they were unable to work. 
  • A prolonged absence: The adjuster will establish a running award (automatic generation of weekly benefit checks, payable directly to the claimant).

According to South Carolina’s State Accident Fund, “Once eligibility has been determined, the adjuster will calculate the amount of lost time and the rate of payment. If the employee is totally unable to work, their compensation rate will be two-thirds (.667) of their average weekly wage, up to a maximum amount set by law.” 

Resolving Disputes

If there is a dispute regarding a workers' compensation claim, the South Carolina Workers' Compensation Commission serves as the administrative body responsible for resolving these disputes. This involves mediation, hearings, and potential appeals.

South Carolina workers' compensation insurance

Selecting a workers' compensation insurance provider

Insurance Requirements for Employers

Employers in South Carolina with four or more employees must carry workers' compensation insurance or qualify for self-insurance, depending on their size and industry. Compliance with these requirements is essential to protect both the employer and employees.

Choosing the Right Insurance Provider

When selecting a workers' compensation insurance provider, consider factors such as the provider's experience in the industry, financial stability, coverage options, claims process, customer service, and cost. 

It's advisable to request multiple quotes and compare the offerings before making a decision.

Covering your business and employees with a trusted insurer—like Cake—brings peace of mind so you can focus on your bottom line.

Cake Insure assumes no responsibility for the management or control of customer safety activities. Please ensure your business meets the requirements of all federal, state, and local laws, regulations, or ordinances related to workplace safety.  The guidance provided herein is not intended to act as legal advice.  Please refer to the South Carolina Workers' Compensation Commission website for additional information.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the penalties for non-compliance with workers' compensation laws in South Carolina?
How do I verify an employer’s coverage?
How long do I have to report a work-related injury or illness?
Are independent contractors covered by workers' compensation insurance?
Can an employee sue their employer for a work-related injury or illness?