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Insurance for people you shouldn't have to insure

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By Merilee Dannemann

The things that drive small businesses crazy don’t only come from government. This story involves the confusing interplay of insurance, regulation, and lawsuits.  
A friend who runs a small business called me to ask about this: Her business uses the services of professionals on a contract or consulting basis. Her insurance company has just informed her that she must pay workers’ compensation premiums for the consultants. The insurer is going to do her a favor and start the premium increase this year. It could have demanded premiums for last year also, on the theory that it was exposed to claim costs last year.
Wait a second, she says. Workers’ compensation is required only for our employees, isn’t it? These consultants are not our employees. We should not have to pay premium for them, right?
The insurance company does not have to explain. If my friend does not pay the premium, the insurer can refuse to renew the policy.
So you think she can switch to another insurer. Nope. If there is an allegation of unpaid premium, no other insurer will write the policy. Since her company is required by law to have coverage, this effectively would force it out of business.


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