What to Do If Your Employer Doesn’t Have Workers’ Compensation Insurance in Iowa

A road sign of compensation claim

Although Iowa is a state that requires most employers to have workers' compensation insurance, you may still find yourself wondering what to do if your employer doesn't have workers' compensation insurance coverage. After suffering a work injury, you may need medical care and time off work to recover. During this time, you'll likely turn to employment benefits to provide the support you need.

If your employer does not have workers' compensation coverage, it may affect your path to recovery, as well as cause additional challenges during an already difficult time. To gain access to the benefits you deserve, you may have to act with the help of a workers' compensation attorney.

When Employers Don't Carry Workers' Compensation Insurance

Most employers in Iowa offer some form of workers' compensation insurance, which provides compensation to workers injured in work-related incidents. This compensation would normally provide workers' comp benefits that cover lost wages, medical bills, disability, and other potential expenses.

In accordance with Iowa law, employers need to obtain coverage from insurance providers or qualify as “self-insurers.” They may also furnish a bond before it engages in business or gets relief from insurance via the state. Employers who fail to take any of these steps have committed a Class D felony, according to state law. Maintaining a self-insured workers' compensation plan does not mean injured workers will not receive benefits. Rather, through such a policy type, the employer pays incurred claims out of pocket instead of paying a premium to an insurance company for the coverage.

However, not all employers have the necessary coverage, and they may not even know they're in violation of the law. Generally, if an employer is an independent contractor and doesn't have any employees, they won't be required to carry workers' compensation insurance. Unfortunately, some employers may mistakenly believe that people working under them don't qualify as actual employees, which could leave employees without the protection they legally need in some occupations.

How Injured Workers Can Recover Compensation Without Insurance

If an employee sustains a work-related injury and the worker's employer doesn't carry insurance coverage, the employee can take one of two steps. First, the employee could file a contested case proceeding with the Workers' Compensation Commissioner. In other cases, employees may choose to file a lawsuit against the employer for damages via a designated district court.

Typically, employees are unable to sue employers for damages resulting from work-related injuries, but they may be able to do so if a workers' compensation claim doesn't come into play. Through a lawsuit, injured employees may be able to seek compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, disfigurement, temporary or permanent disability, and pain and suffering. To recover compensation, injured employees would need to prove that the employer's negligence led to the injuries. This provides a path for you if you suffer an on-the-job injury and wonder what to do if your employer doesn't have workers' compensation insurance.

Other cases may involve government or private benefits that help cover work-related injuries and disabilities, including Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

If injured and wondering what to do if your employer doesn't have workers' compensation insurance, you have certain other options available to you if you qualify for compensation. A work injury lawyer may work with you to explain your rights to seek benefits under the workers' comp system.

Learn More About Your Rights and What to Do If Your Employer Doesn't Have Workers' Compensation Benefits

Why an Employer May Dispute a Workers' Compensation Claim

Avoid These Mistakes That Harm a Work Injury Claim

Understanding the Workers' Compensation Second Injury Fund

Hurt On The Job? The 7 Essential Workers' Compensation Things To Know

How Workers' Compensation Works in Iowa

Photo of Niko Pothitakis
For the past 15 years Mr. Pothitakis has focused his practice on Workers Compensation and Personal Injury Cases. The firm has two locations, one being in Burlington, Iowa and the other in Keokuk, Iowa. Mr. Pothitakis works with many area unions and employee organizations to provide advice, assistance, and guidance as it relates to employment issues. Mr. Pothitakis provides free consultations to those with legal questions in the firm's areas of practice. In this initial meeting or conference potential clients are provided advice on their need for assistance and how they need to proceed.