North Dakota Workforce Safety & Insurance (WSI) is an exclusive, employer-financed, no-fault insurance state fund covering workplace injuries, illnesses, and death. In North Dakota, WSI is the sole provider and administrator of the workers’ compensation system. North Dakota is one of four “exclusive” state funds in the country (the other three are Ohio, Washington, and Wyoming). In the other 46 states and the District of Columbia, employers have the option to either buy workers’ compensation insurance from private insurance companies and competitive state funds or to self-insure. The workers’ compensation fund was governmentally created in 1919.
The intent of the workers’ compensation program is to take care of injured workers’ medical bills; provide wage-loss, impairment and rehabilitation payments; and in the case of death, provide monthly payments to spouses and dependents. Employers must include all employees, except those specifically exempted by law, in the workers’ compensation insurance program. Exclusions include farm and ranch workers, domestic workers, clergy, federal employees, railroad employees, newspaper delivery people, and real estate brokers and sales people who operate under a signed contract as an independent contractor. Coverage is optional for employers, resident family members younger than 22 years old, the spouse of an employer, and self-employed individuals.
In North Dakota, workers’ compensation insurance is financed through premiums paid by employers. These premiums are among the lowest in the nation. Premiums for each employer are calculated using payrolls, industry-based premium rates, and loss history. Employers report their payroll to WSI on an annual basis. The amount of payroll used to calculate the premium for each worker is limited to 70% of the state’s average annual wage.
An injured worker is responsible for filing a claim. To be eligible to receive disability/medical benefits a worker must file a claim within one year from the date of injury. Any injury/disability must be substantiated by medical evidence. An injured worker’s medical treatment is monitored through a managed care program and is subject to a medical fee schedule. WSI reimburses for “reasonable and necessary” medical treatment. Workers with medical restrictions are evaluated through a workability assessment to determine ability to return-to-work and eligibility for rehabilitation benefits, which may include formalized training. WSI is administered by the following: