What Happens When a Connecticut Employer Allows Their Workers’ Compensation Insurance to Expire?
Most Connecticut employers rely on workers’ compensation insurance to pay any benefits owed to injured workers. If the employer does not have such insurance, that certainly does not relieve them of their obligation to the injured employee. Not only is the employer personally liable for such benefits, but the business itself may face additional fines and penalties for failing to maintain adequate workers’ compensation insurance.
Commission Finds Insurer Validly Canceled Policy Over $5 Underpayment of Premium
Unfortunately, innocent employees often get caught in the middle when there is a dispute between their employer and its insurance company over whether coverage is still in force. For example, in a recent decision, Bellerive v. The Grotto, Inc., the Workers’ Compensation Commission’s Compensation Review Board held that an insurer validly canceled a workers’ compensation policy, even though the employer may honestly have believed it was still covered.
The employer in this case purchased a workers’ compensation insurance policy from Liberty Mutual in September 2015. The policy was set to expire in August 2016. But Liberty Mutual insisted it canceled the policy in October 2015, apparently due to a $5 underpayment of premiums by the employer.
Before the Workers’ Compensation Commissioner, the employer said it received mixed signals from Liberty Mutual regarding the status of its policy. In February 2016, the insurer sent an amended endorsement that said the policy “may” be canceled if the employer refused to submit a required audit report. Yet on that same day, Liberty Mutual sent a second letter stating the policy was canceled several months earlier, in November 2015.
To make a long story short, the Review Board said it did not actually matter when the employer was notified of the cancellation–or even if it honestly believed the policy was still in force. As far as Connecticut law was concerned, the only action Liberty Mutual needed to take to cancel the policy was to notify the chairman of the Workers’ Compensation Commission. Once that notice was received by the chairman’s office, the policy was automatically canceled 15 days later.
So even though Liberty Mutual sent conflicting notices to the employer several months later, the fact remained the policy was validly canceled in November 2015. The employer’s subjective belief regarding the status of its coverage was irrelevant.
Get Help Today from a Board-Certified Connecticut Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
Again, it is important to emphasize that Connecticut employers generally must carry sufficient workers’ compensation insurance. If you are injured at work only to learn your employer does not have insurance, that does not mean you are out of luck. It means your employer is directly on the hook–and in some cases, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit that would otherwise be barred by workers’ compensation law.
Also keep in mind, it is against the law for a business to operate without workers’ compensation insurance. So if you know your employer is not complying with the law, you should speak with a board-certified Stratford workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible. Contact the Morizio Law Firm today to schedule a free consultation.