In short, Ontario Employer Liability Insurance protects employers, whether they have WSIB coverage or not, from lawsuits stemming from workplace-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths. Even if you’re mandated to have workers’ compensation coverage through the Workplace Safety Insurance Board, you’re not immune from personal injury litigation. Are you an employer in Ontario? Read on.
Employers in Ontario
Ontario. Whether you see it as “a place to discover”, “a place to grow”, or “open for business” the facts remain the same – it is far and away from the single biggest provincial contributor to Canada’s economy. Providing close to 40% of Canada’s GDP and with a population of over 14.5 million1, Ontario is fertile ground for companies of all sizes.
Employers across several key industries have been flocking to Ontario:
- Clean technology & Renewable energy
- Financial services
- Food and Beverage manufacturing
- Information Technology
- Life Sciences
These industries alone help Ontario generate a GDP of over $857 billion.
With a labour force of close to 8 million workers1, protecting workers’ safety is, understandably, a primary concern. “Safety first” isn’t just a saying in Ontario, it’s a guiding principle.
As an Ontario employer, you are familiar with the Workplace Safety Insurance Board. The majority of industries are required to carry WSIB coverage and pay into the program as a way of protecting employees from workplace injuries and illnesses.
Is WSIB Coverage Enough to Protect Your Business?
According to the WSIB website, their no-fault compensation covers over 5 million Ontarians. That leaves a wide gap of workers not covered by WSIB and a large number of employers susceptible to litigation based on workplace-related injuries and illnesses. In Ontario workplaces in 2018, there were:
- 64,855 lost-time injuries
- 74 injury-related fatalities
- 260 occupational disease-related deaths2
Despite evolving, workplace safety sciences and policies, accidents, injuries, illnesses, and even deaths continue.
As an Ontario employer, you do your best to ensure your employees are safe and that if there is an injury, your workers are protected. But as the employer, you also have a duty to protect your business from the crippling legal and medical costs that result from workplace injuries and illnesses.
Even if you pay for workers’ compensation, you are still not completely protected from litigation based on workplace injuries and illnesses.
If a WSIB claim is denied or not applicable the employee can sue their employer. Employers with WSIB coverage can also be sued if a non-work-related injury takes place on work property or because of improperly maintained equipment.
Ontario employers without WSIB coverage are completely unprotected and are open to substantial lawsuits if an employee suffers injury, illness, or death.
Ontario Employer Liability Insurance policies are designed to provide Ontario employers with coverage that protects them from lawsuits, even if they have WSIB coverage.
Employers without WSIB Coverage Need Ontario Employer Liability Insurance
Industries in Ontario that are exempt from mandatory WSIB coverage include:
- bank, trust and insurance company
- trade unions
- private schools or private daycare centres
- travel agency
- barbers and many hair salons
- funeral directing and embalming
To make sure you are not required to register with WSIB, visit their Do You Need to Register With Us page. Of course, it would be best to contact them and avoid regulatory fines.
They do recommend that even if you are exempt from mandatory WSIB participation, that you consider optional WSIB coverage. Before you do, consider this:
Workers’ compensation coverage through WSIB is no-fault. This means that claims are paid out without inquiring as to who is at fault for the injury. This leads to more claims and more claims mean a higher WSIB premium. Under an Ontario Employer Liability claim, employer fault has to be proven.
Ontario employer liability insurance protects you much in the same way as Commercial General Liability insurance does and it is purchased as part of a commercial general liability policy. Where a Commercial General Liability Insurance policy protects your business from lawsuits due to injury to third party persons or property because of your products, services or business practices, Ontario employer liability insurance can protect you from the potentially devastating costs of a workplace injury to an employee such as:
- lost wages
- lost future earnings
- medical expenses
- legal fees
- legal awards and settlements
Add it all up and costs of a workplace injury, illness or death could be ruinous. As an employer, having Ontario Employer Liability Insurance only makes sense in the long run as accidents happen, despite our best efforts.
Employers with WSIB Coverage – Why You Need Ontario Employer Liability Coverage
As mentioned earlier, employers in Ontario with mandatory WSIB coverage are still open to litigation. Slips and falls on work property, denied WSIB claims and equipment failure causing injury or death are common scenarios that lead to suits against WSIB-insured employers in Ontario.
Personal Injury lawyers eagerly promote their services to injured employees – even if they’re covered by WSIB. The offer of free consultations and work done on contingency leads to lawsuits frequently filed against employers who pay into a WSIB plan.
Ontario Employer Liability Insurance for employers participating in Ontario’s WSIB insurance is known as Contingent Employers Liability and shores up your business’s exposure to workplace-injury related lawsuits.
Ontario Employer Liability Insurance Solutions from ALIGNED
At ALIGNED, we can have Ontario Employer Liability Insurance or Contingent Employers Liability coverage added to your existing Commercial General Liability policy as a cost-effective shield to protect your business in the unfortunate event of workplace injuries, illnesses and deaths.
Sources: 1https://www.fin.gov.on.ca/en/economy/ecupdates/factsheet.html; 2https://www.uregina.ca/business/faculty-staff/faculty/file_download/2020-Report-on-Workplace-Fatalities-and-Injuries.pdf.pdf pg.14