Workers Compensation Insurance for Restaurants: Costs & Quotes

Workers Compensation Insurance for Restaurants, often referred to as restaurant workers comp, is a crucial aspect of ensuring the safety and well-being of employees in the restaurant industry. This type of restaurant insurance coverage financially supports workers who suffer work-related injuries or illnesses. It’s not just a legal requirement in most states; it’s also an ethical obligation for restaurant owners to protect their staff.

What is Workers Compensation Insurance for Restaurants

Restaurant workers compensation insurance is a specialized insurance policy tailored to the unique needs of the restaurant industry. It covers medical expenses, lost wages, and rehabilitation costs for employees who sustain injuries or illnesses while on the job. This insurance not only safeguards the employees but also protects restaurant owners from potential lawsuits related to workplace accidents.

When Do You Need to Get Workers Compensation Insurance for Restaurants

Understanding when a business needs workers comp for restaurants is essential. State laws vary, but if you have employees in your restaurant, you’re likely required to carry workers compensation insurance. The specifics can be found in your state’s workers’ comp law provisions, which vary widely. Researching and comprehending your state’s requirements is crucial to avoid penalties and legal complications.

  • Number of employees: In most states, if your restaurant employs a specific number of workers, typically ranging from 1 to 5, you must obtain workers comp for restaurants. The exact threshold varies by state, so consult your state’s regulations to determine the specific number applicable to your establishment.

  • Nature of work: If your restaurant engages in activities that carry inherent risks, such as food preparation, handling equipment, or serving patrons, you will likely need restaurant workers comp insurance. These occupations are considered higher risk, and insurance is essential to protect employees in case of injuries.

  • Legal obligations: Workers’ compensation laws can be intricate, and they often mandate coverage based on the type of business entity and its size. Sole proprietors and partners might not be required to obtain workers comp for themselves, but the rules can differ. Consult your state’s workers comp laws for precise information.

  • Independent contractors: While independent contractors are typically not considered employees, the classification can be legally contentious. Some states may require coverage for contractors depending on the nature of the work they perform within your restaurant. Ensure you understand the distinction and follow your state’s guidelines.

  • State variations: Each state in the U.S. has its own set of workers’ compensation regulations. These regulations can vary significantly, so it’s imperative to familiarize yourself with the specific provisions in your state. You can find detailed information on your state’s workers comp website or by consulting legal counsel well-versed in local employment laws.

  • Growth and changes: Your restaurant’s evolving circumstances, such as increased staffing or changes like operations, can impact your workers comp requirements. Regularly review and adapt your coverage to align with your business’s current needs and legal obligations.

What Government Agency Oversees Workers Compensation Insurance for Restaurants

The oversight of workers compensation insurance for restaurants is usually the responsibility of a state-level agency or commission. These entities ensure that employers comply with the law and provide adequate coverage to their employees. Understanding the functions and regulations of your state’s workers’ comp commission is essential for restaurant owners to operate legally and responsibly.

State Workers’ Compensation Board

 In many states, the State Workers’ Compensation Board, sometimes known as the State Industrial Commission or a similar name, administers and enforces workers’ compensation laws. This agency is responsible for various vital functions:

  • Claims processing: It manages the process of filing, evaluating, and approving workers’ compensation claims. This involves determining the validity of claims, assessing the extent of injuries, and disbursing appropriate benefits to injured workers.

  • Dispute resolution: The agency mediates disputes between employers and employees regarding workers’ compensation claims. It may hold hearings and investigations to reach fair resolutions and ensure compliance with the law.

  • Regulatory oversight: The State Workers’ Compensation Board establishes and enforces workers’ compensation insurance coverage regulations. This includes setting minimum coverage requirements, premium rates, and other relevant employer guidelines.

  • Educational outreach: Many state agencies provide educational resources and materials to employers and employees, helping them understand their rights and obligations under workers’ comp laws.

Department of Labor 

In some states, the oversight of workers compensation insurance may be under the jurisdiction of the Department of Labor or a similar department. These departments are pivotal in ensuring employers adhere to workers’ comp regulations. Key functions include:

  • Inspection and enforcement: Conduct workplace inspections to verify compliance with safety standards and workers’ comp insurance requirements. Non-compliance can lead to penalties and fines.

  • Employer education: Providing guidance and educational programs to employers to enhance their understanding of workers’ compensation laws and safety practices.

Independent Commissions 

A few states have established independent commissions or bodies specifically dedicated to workers’ compensation oversight. These commissions work similarly to state boards or labor departments but function as autonomous entities with specialized focus.

Legal Support

The agency may also serve as a legal resource, offering advice and assistance to employees and employers dealing with workers’ comp issues. They may provide information on legal rights, benefits, and responsibilities.

Which Businesses Are Exempt from Getting Workers Compensation Insurance for Restaurants

Not all businesses in the restaurant industry are required to obtain workers compensation insurance. Some states exempt certain categories of workers or small businesses with very few employees. To determine if your restaurant falls under these exemptions, consult your state’s workers comp page, where you can find detailed information about who is and isn’t mandated to carry restaurant workers comp.

  • Small businesses: In many states, small businesses with limited employees are exempt from mandatory workers compensation insurance. The threshold for what constitutes a “small” business varies by state but often includes establishments with fewer than three to five employees.

  • Sole proprietors and partners: In certain states, sole proprietors and business partnerships might have the option to exclude themselves from workers comp coverage. However, the ability to opt-out depends on the specific legal structure of the business and the state’s regulations.

  • Family-owned businesses: Some states exempt immediate family members (e.g., spouses, children, parents) who work in the family-owned restaurant from the requirement of workers compensation insurance. However, this exemption may not apply to extended family members or non-related employees.

  • Agricultural and seasonal workers: Workers who are engaged in agricultural or seasonal employment within the restaurant industry may be subject to different regulations. In some cases, these workers may be exempt from workers comp requirements due to the seasonal nature of their work.

  • Independent contractors: Independent contractors, as opposed to employees, are typically not covered by a restaurant’s workers compensation policy. However, it’s crucial to classify workers to avoid potential misclassification issues correctly.

  • Certain occupational categories: Some states may have specific exemptions for certain occupational categories within the restaurant industry. For instance, some states may exempt entertainers, musicians, or artists hired by a restaurant for short-term performances.

  • Low-risk businesses: In a few states, businesses deemed low-risk or have minimal injury potential may be exempt from mandatory workers comp insurance. This determination is often based on the nature of the work and industry-specific risk assessments.

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How Much Money Does Workers Compensation Insurance Give for Restaurants

Workers compensation insurance for the restaurant industry provides different types of benefits, including temporary partial disability, temporary total disability, permanent partial disability, and permanent total disability benefits. 

These benefits vary in amount and duration; state laws govern the specifics. For example, in California, the maximum temporary total disability benefit rate is $1,215 per week. Exact figures can change annually, so staying up-to-date with your state’s regulations is essential.

  • Temporary partial disability benefits: Employees who sustain injuries that partially restrict their ability to work temporarily are entitled to temporary partial disability benefits. The exact amount of these benefits varies by state and is typically calculated as a percentage of the employee’s average weekly wage before the injury. On average, this percentage hovers around 66⅔% of the pre-injury wage.

  • Temporary total disability benefits: In cases where an injury completely prevents an employee from working temporarily, temporary total disability benefits come into play. These benefits often amount to about 66⅔% of the employee’s average weekly wage before the injury, subject to a maximum cap defined by state laws.

  • Permanent partial disability benefits: If an injury results in a permanent but partial impairment, employees may qualify for permanent partial disability benefits. The specific amount varies based on the severity of the impairment and is determined through a state-specific formula. Typically, this calculation involves multiplying the degree of impairment by a predetermined factor and then by the state’s maximum compensation rate.

  • Permanent total disability benefits: In instances where an injury renders an employee unable to work, they may be entitled to permanent total disability benefits. These benefits usually provide 66⅔% of the employee’s average weekly wage before the injury, subject to the state’s maximum compensation rate.

How Long Will an Employee Wait Before Receiving Benefits

The waiting period before employees receive workers comp benefits in the restaurant industry can vary. Some states have a waiting period before benefits kick in, while others provide immediate coverage for eligible injuries. Knowing your state’s rules regarding this waiting period is crucial to ensure that your employees receive the support they need promptly.

  • Initial reporting: Once an employee sustains a work-related injury or illness, they must report it promptly to their employer. The waiting period usually begins at this point. Employers should have mechanisms to facilitate reporting, ensuring that injuries are documented and reported without delay.

  • Initial medical evaluation: After the injury is reported, the injured employee will typically undergo an initial medical evaluation. This evaluation helps determine the severity of the injury and the necessary course of treatment. The waiting period often coincides with this evaluation, as benefits are not typically provided during this early phase.

  • State-specific variations: The waiting period duration can vary from state to state, as workers’ compensation laws differ. Some states have no waiting period, while others may impose a waiting period of up to seven days. In some cases, the waiting period may be retroactively applied, meaning that if the disability extends beyond a certain duration, benefits will be provided from the first day of disability.

  • Elimination period: Besides the waiting period, some policies include an “elimination period.” This period must pass before an employee is eligible for benefits after the waiting period ends. The elimination period can vary based on the policy and may range from days to weeks.

  • Temporary vs. permanent disabilities: The waiting period often applies primarily to temporary disabilities, where an injured employee is expected to recover and return to work. For permanent disabilities, the waiting period may not apply, and benefits may begin immediately.

  • Access to medical treatment: While waiting for benefits to commence, employees should still have access to necessary medical treatment. Employers are typically responsible for covering reasonable medical expenses from the onset of the injury.

Penalties for Not Getting Workers Compensation for Workers Compensation Insurance for Restaurants

It is crucial for restaurant owners to fully comprehend their state’s workers’ compensation laws and requirements. To avoid potential penalties and legal issues, consult your state’s official workers’ comp resources and consider seeking legal counsel to ensure compliance with all regulations. 

Providing workers’ compensation insurance not only upholds legal obligations but also safeguards restaurant employees’ well-being and the business’s overall stability. Below, we outline potential penalties that restaurants may face for non-compliance with restaurant workers’ comp insurance requirements:

  • Civil penalties: Restaurants that do not provide workers’ compensation insurance as mandated may be subject to civil penalties. These penalties typically involve fines imposed by state authorities. The specific fines can vary widely depending on the state’s regulations, the size of the business, and non-compliance duration. In some cases, fines may accrue daily until insurance coverage is obtained.

  • Legal liability: Without restaurant workers’ compensation insurance, they expose themselves to the risk of facing legal liability. Injured employees may choose to file lawsuits against the restaurant to seek compensation for their medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Legal battles can be costly and detrimental to a restaurant’s reputation.

  • Criminal penalties: Restaurant owners or management may face criminal charges in more severe cases of non-compliance or willful disregard for workers’ compensation requirements. Criminal penalties can include fines and even imprisonment, depending on the severity of the violation and state laws.

  • Loss of business licenses: Some states may revoke or suspend a restaurant’s business licenses, permits, or certifications for failing to provide workers’ compensation coverage. This action can disrupt restaurant operations and affect its ability to conduct business legally.

  • Asset liens: To recover unpaid workers’ compensation benefits owed to injured employees, states may place liens on a non-compliant restaurant’s assets or property. This can lead to financial distress and impact the restaurant’s ability to function effectively.

  • Increased insurance costs: Non-compliance can result in higher insurance costs in the future. When a restaurant eventually obtains workers’ compensation insurance after non-compliance, insurance providers may charge significantly higher premiums due to the perceived risk associated with prior non-compliance.

  • Employee morale and retention: Failing to provide workers’ compensation insurance can harm employee morale and retention. Employees may feel less secure in their workplace, leading to decreased job satisfaction and increased turnover.

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Restaurant Workers Compensation Insurance Cost

Here’s a table summarizing the best commercial restaurant workers’ compensation insurance companies and their estimated average monthly costs:

Insurance Company Cost per Month Cost per Year Best for
NEXT $28 $336 Best overall; Fastest workers compensation insurance.
The Hartford $30 $360 Larger restaurant businesses seeking comprehensive coverage and personalized service.
Thimble $30 $360 Restaurants with part-time or seasonal staff and variable coverage needs.
Tivly $35 $420 Comparing workers compensation insurance quotes for restaurants over the phone.
Hiscox $44 $528 Restaurant owners seeking highly customizable workers comp coverage and exceptional customer support.

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Best Commercial Restaurant Workers’ Compensation Insurance Companies

When it comes to securing the best commercial workers compensation for restaurants, the right choice can make a significant difference. Here are some of the insurance companies you should consider working with. 



  • Fast and easy online application process.

  • Tailored insurance plans for restaurants.

  • Competitive pricing.

  • Best overall. 

  • Great value for money.

  • Get an online certificate of insurance.

  • Bundle workers comp with other policies an enjoy a 15% discount.


  • Coudln’t find any. 

NEXT offers comprehensive restaurant workers comp insurance designed specifically for restaurant businesses. They provide customized coverage options, making it easy for restaurant owners to protect their employees and their business.

Best for: Best overall; Fastest workers compensation insurance. 

Average cost: $28 per month 

Our rating: 10/10

The Hartford


  • Extensive experience in the insurance industry.

  • A wide network of agents and brokers.

  • Strong financial stability.


  • Premiums can be higher compared to some competitors.

  • Complex application process.

The Hartford is a well-established insurance provider with a long history of serving businesses. They offer workers compensation insurance solutions for restaurants, providing financial protection and peace of mind to restaurant owners.

Best for: Larger restaurant businesses seeking comprehensive coverage and personalized service.

Average cost: $30 per month

Our rating: 9/10



  • Streamlined application process.

  • Competitive rates.

  • Dedicated customer support.


  • Limited availability in some states.

  • May not offer specialized restaurant policies.

Tivly is a new player in the insurance industry, offering affordable workers compensation coverage for businesses, including restaurants. They aim to simplify the insurance process for restaurant owners. Call now and talk with a representative to compare quotes over the phone. 

Best for: Comparing workers compensation insurance quotes for restaurants over the phone. 

Average cost: $35 per month

Our rating: 9/10



  • Flexible on-demand coverage.

  • Quick and easy online application.

  • Transparent pricing.


  • May not offer traditional annual policies.

  • Limited coverage options in some states.

Thimble specializes in providing on-demand workers compensation coverage, making it a convenient choice for restaurants with fluctuating staffing needs. Their flexible approach allows restaurant owners to pay only for coverage when they need it.

Best for: Restaurants with part-time or seasonal staff and variable coverage needs.

Average cost: $30 per month

Our rating: 10/10



  • Has strong financial stability.

  • Customizable coverage options.

  • Excellent customer service.


  • May not provide some coverages

  • Limited availability in certain states.

Hiscox offers customizable workers compensation insurance for restaurants, allowing you to tailor your coverage to your specific needs. With a reputation for excellent customer service, they provide support when you need it most.

Best for: Restaurant owners seeking highly customizable workers comp coverage and exceptional customer support.

Average cost: $44 per month

Our rating: 9/10

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