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The Difference Between USL&H and Workers’ Comp Laws

June 1, 2023


Insurance agents and brokers frequently ask, “When can I get a certificate of insurance?” You should always select certified providers who can underwrite in under 24 hours. USL&H and workers’ compensation, however, are regulated by different bodies, which can affect the certification of coverage.

USL&H is a federal act, whereas workers’ compensation is governed by state laws, with each state acting independently regarding coverage. Not everyone can issue a USL&H certificate, but SPLI can offer federal certificates for most states.

What Is USL&H?

USL&H stands for United States Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. This act provides workers’ compensation at the federal level for maritime employees. Before the act was passed, maritime workers were not normally eligible for workers’ compensation. This is because they work on navigable waters outside of the boundaries of individual states.

The USL&H Act covers employees working in traditional maritime occupations, from shipbuilders to longshore workers, repair and maintenance crews, harbor construction workers, and shipbreakers. Common places where USL&H-covered accidents occur are on navigable waters and adjoining areas like terminals, wharves, docks, or piers.

Because maritime workers like longshoremen are not seamen working in service of a vessel, they may not be eligible for Jones Act coverage.

What Is Jones Act Coverage?

The Jones Act was established to protect seamen — the captain and crew members of ships — when they are injured on the job. It essentially provides workers’ compensation coverage for those who work on ships, from a shipping boat or barge to an oil rig. Like with USL&H, seamen are usually not eligible for state workers’ comp coverage, which makes the act essential for their protection.

How Does USL&H Differ From Workers’ Compensation?

Workers’ compensation is a state-regulated form of insurance required for most employers that provides protection when a worker is injured on the job. Workers’ comp is a no-fault form of protection, meaning that any injury is covered so long as it occurred during the normal course of work. It covers damages from hospital and medical costs as well as a portion of lost wages.

While both USL&H and state workers’ comp provide essential protection when an employee is injured on the job, they are separate and distinct forms of protection. They require two separate policies for coverage, and not every company is able to issue certificates for both.

The USL&H has far different requirements because it is a federal act, which often carries with it much greater costs because USL&H coverage does not require minimum or maximum payroll reporting requirements. Workers’ compensation packages are administered by a state and are generally easier to certify, though they may have different reporting requirements for each state.

Why Use SPLI?

Without proper workers’ compensation or USL&H coverage, your company will not be in compliance with state and federal laws, which means that workplace injuries can be not only a barrier to growth, but can also result in heavy fines, penalties, and even the loss of your business. SPLI can provide certificates for workers’ comp and USL&H insurance for leased employees to help ensure that your business is completely compliant across the board. Even if your business is high-risk, we can work with you to provide a solution. For more information, complete our form to request a quote today.

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