I have had many conversations recently about employees and travel exposure in regards to workers’ comp insurance. Most employers understand that regular commuting does not result in a work comp claim. Even if there is an accident involving an employee. However, many carriers view every day or long distance highway travel as a higher risk exposure.
Salespeople, nurses, and other employees who are on the road a lot often are exempt from the coming-and-going rule. Travel is integral to their employment because they don’t work from a fixed office. This also holds true for construction risks. These businesses have employees that are going from their home state to another state to work. Basically from the time they leave their front door until they return home from that job they have 24/7 work comp exposure.
On-call employees are likely covered from the moment they are called into work even if they get hurt at home. Employees who are injured during business travel may receive compensation, even if the accident happens during recreation. Courts generally are liberal in determining workers’ compensation eligibility in work travel accidents. In many cases, even if the activity that caused the injury is not considered work related.
If an employee is on a trip that is work related and they go to work out at the gym, if they injure themselves at the gym they are covered by workers comp. They are covered because a lawyer would argue they were only in that gym at that time because they were out of town for a work trip. For this reason the injury is covered.
With that being said, if an employee goes out for a business dinner and is in an accident after having too much to drink, work comp would most likely deny the claim. This is because the use of alcohol would exclude the injury whether they were on the clock or not. So with in certain limits would work comp kick in for traveling employees. It’s worth noting that workers’ compensation coverage for commuting employees varies state to state.
If an employee runs a work-related errand on the way home from work and gets in an accident, her injuries may be compensated. Another example of this would be if an employee is injured running a work-related errand while out for [personal time] lunch. This relates to the dual purpose or capacity concept.
Most of the time I run into having this conversation with a client if it is a higher risk construction company. A company like carpentry commonly has employees in the home state that are traveling into multiple states annually. Here is the outlook from an underwriting perspective. Not only is your business in a risky trade like carpentry, but we are throwing in across state lines travel. Where accidents happen in a vehicle with possibly one if not three or four employees could be injured. These are two big reasons insurance carriers are not interested in this type of risk.