Most workers in Texas are surprised to learn that employers do not have to participate in the workers' compensation program. About 25% of the companies in Texas actually opt-out of workers comp; we call these companies non-subscribers. This means that if you are injured on the job, you can't assume you will receive workers compensation benefits. Which may leave you wondering: "How do I find out if my employer has workers comp or if they're a non-subscriber?"
Answer: You need to search the State of Texas' workers compensation database. If your employer is in the database, they participate in the workers compensation program. If they are not, they are probably a non-subscriber.
How it Works
This link will take you to the Texas Department of Insurance Database. There you will enter your employer's information and the date of the injury. The database will tell you if your company was covered by workers compensation at that time.
Now, if you're wondering why this matters, please read the article What Is the Difference Between a Workers’ Comp and a Non-Subscriber Claim? to learn why it matters if your employer is either a subscriber or non-subscriber. It has a major impact on your rights as an injured worker.
My Employer Doesn't Show Up in the TDI Database. Does that Mean They Are a Non-Subscriber?
Not so fast.
If your employer does not show up in the TDI Database, it is very likely they are a non-subscriber. But, there are two exceptions to this: government employers and self-insured companies also don't appear.
Here's how it breaks down.
- All government employers (such as cities, the State of Texas, local water boards, school districts, etc.) automatically participate in the workers' compensation program, so it literally does not matter if they are in the workers' comp database. If you work for such an employer, then you are covered by a workers' comp policy.
- Also, some businesses self insure for workers' comp purposes. What that means, is they do in fact participate in the workers' comp program, but they have chosen to make their own mini workers' comp group that consists only of employees of within their company, instead of buying into a larger risk pool the way that most other employers do. So, these employers get their own list that is not part of the above-mentioned workers' compensation database. To see the list of self-insured workers' comp subscribers, click on the PDF below.
What does all this mean?
It means that a person who wishes to determine if their employer participates in the workers' comp program needs to search the TDI workers' comp database AND consider whether their employer is a government agency AND consider whether their employer is a self-insured workers' comp subscriber.
Only when your employer does not fall into any of those categories/appear on any of those lists, you can definitively conclude that they opt out of the workers' comp program.
My Employer Does/Doesn't Provide Workers' Compensation, What Now?
Putting it all together, if your company participates in the workers' compensation program, you are entitled to the benefits that it provides—but you can't sue your employer.
On the other hand, when you work for a non-subscriber, your employer is not obligated to provide you with any benefits. That may sound like the end of the world, but in many instances, it's a blessing in disguise. When someone is injured and receives workers' compensation, they rarely recover all of their losses. The silver lining when you work for a non-subscriber is that you have the right to sue your employer. This means that you can potentially obtain significant compensation.
The first step for many injured workers is figuring out if their employer has workers comp or not. If they do have workers compensation, obtaining benefits is usually just a matter of completing paperwork. If they are a non-subscriber, it's not a matter of filling out a few forms; you have to sue your employer.
Feel free to give us a call if you would like your questions answered by a non-subscriber work injury attorney. We are available 24/7, provide free consultations, and would be happy to address any concerns you have.