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What Is the Difference Between Workers’ Compensation and Health Insurance?


As a business owner, it’s not always easy to figure out which types of insurance coverage you need. Especially with so many different coverages for employee healthcare, like: 

  • Workers’ compensation
  • Private health insurance
  • Disability insurance

To protect your employees, it’s important to understand the difference between these coverages. 

What Is Workers’ Compensation Insurance?

Your workers' compensation policy provides benefits for employees if they get injured on the job or suffer from a work-related illness. Workers' comp can help pay for your employees’: 

  • Medical care to treat their work-related injury or illness.
  • Missed wages if they need time off to recover.
  • Disability benefits if an injury causes temporary or permanent disabilities.
  • Funeral expenses for their family if they pass away in a job-related incident.

Workers’ comp can provide these benefits to your employees if they have: 

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • A back injury from repetitive movement
  • Lung damage from breathing toxic substances
  • An injury from a fall at work
  • An injury from a car accident while driving for business

Workers’ Compensation vs. Health Insurance

To receive benefits for medical expenses, your injured workers need to file a workers' compensation claim. Workers’ comp is important for employers too, because if you don’t have coverage, your business may be responsible for any work-related injury or illness. Most states require workers' compensation, but they all have different laws. Some examples of businesses that usually need workers’ comp coverage include: 

  • Construction companies
  • Law firms
  • Retail shops

What Is Health Insurance?

You probably already know your health insurance helps pay your medical expenses for non-work related injuries or illnesses. As of 2014, the Affordable Care Act made it the law that all Americans carry minimum health insurance or pay a penalty. As a business owner, you can offer health insurance as a part of your benefits package for employees. If you do offer this type of benefit, you can choose to pay the entire premium for them, or just part of it. Your employees can also decide to get private health insurance on their own. 

What Is Disability Insurance?

Difference Between Workers’ Compensation and Health Insurance

You may also offer your employees voluntary disability insurance coverage. If an employee becomes disabled or ill outside of work, disability benefits help replace a portion of their income to help cover basic living expenses, like groceries or rent, until they can return to work. In some states, like California, your employees may be able to get insurance through a state disability program.1 Otherwise, you can offer both short-term disability insurance and long-term disability insurance through The Hartford. Short-term disability insurance can help cover: 

  • Rehab
  • Maternity leave
  • Surgery recovery
  • Tendinitis
  • Broken bones

Long-term disability insurance can help cover: 

  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Pregnancy complications
  • Scoliosis
  • Pneumonia

Remember, business owners, like you, do not have to provide disability insurance. It is an optional benefit. 

Workers’ Comp vs Private Insurance

Workers’ Comp vs. Disability

Most states require businesses to have workers’ comp coverage. This means with a few exemptions, most employees that get hurt on the job can receive workers’ comp benefits. Private health insurance is only used for a non-work-related injury or illness. Unlike private health insurance, workers’ comp helps cover your employee’s missed wages if they need time off from work. It can also provide funeral benefits to their family if they pass away after getting injured at work. Private health insurance doesn’t offer either of these benefits. 

Workers’ Comp vs Disability Insurance

Workers’ comp and disability insurance can both help if an employee gets injured or sick. Understanding the difference between them is key to providing the right benefits for your employees. 

Is Disability Insurance the Same As Workers’ Compensation?

Disability insurance and workers’ compensation coverage, or workman’s comp, are not the same. Workers’ comp is government-regulated and provides benefits for a work-related injury or illness. Disability insurance is voluntary.2 It helps replace your employees’ lost income if they become disabled from an injury or illness outside of work. For example, disability insurance can help cover an injury related to a car accident. 

Get a Workers’ Compensation Quote

You’ve worked hard building your business, so let The Hartford Insurance Company help protect it with the workers’ comp coverage you need. Call one of our representatives to get a workers’ comp quote today.