Workers’ Compensation: Common Misconceptions Concerning Off-Duty Police Officers

A large portion of police officers work off-duty jobs; however, they often remain unaware of the lack of workers’ compensation benefits during these shifts. Officers receive good compensation coverage when working on duty for their agencies; however, off-duty employment leaves them at risk. When law enforcement officers choose to work off-duty assignments, they may assume insurance is taken care of since they are in uniform. Several common misconceptions cause confusion about worker’s compensation for off-duty police officers.

Covered Through Agency

Even when hired by private employers, police officers usually wear their jurisdiction’s uniform and carry their on-duty weapons. Many people think all department policies apply as long as an officer is carrying out the same type of work or dressed the same. After all, the public can rarely tell the difference between an on-duty officer and an off-duty one.

Agency workers’ compensation benefits only apply to law enforcement officers when working on duty. Officers, however, remain at high risk for work-related injuries, and even death, while working off-duty. They can sustain medical expenses and miss time at work after a serious injury. None of these scenarios are covered without specific off-duty insurance coverage. Agency insurance coverage only applies to officers working dedicated agency, on-duty jobs. Workers’ compensation for off-duty police officers is a necessity that agencies can easily prioritize with an off-duty administration solution.

Why are police officers not covered with workers’ compensation when working off-duty jobs?

When police officers take off-duty police jobs, they are not working for their agency. Off-duty jobs are categorized as contract jobs. They work for private vendors instead of their agency. Agency benefits only apply to on-duty hours. Any employee working outside of their regular job would not receive workers’ compensation supplied by their main employer.

Business/ Vendor Responsibility

Some states require a certificate of insurance (COI) from private employers hiring off-duty police officers; however, this is often overlooked. While responsible vendors may adhere to these mandates, many try to get around the laws, hoping no one checks their documentation. The necessity of a COI is not something that most officers would think to check, either. Police officers assume they are properly covered while protecting the community in any situation. They deserve proper coverage and risk mitigation.

What scenarios are covered by workers’ compensation?

Workers’ compensation covers financial needs associated with a work-related injury, illness, or death. These often include the following items.

  • Medical care expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Continuing care costs
  • Funeral expenses and benefits to beneficiaries

Officers and their families may suffer from financial and emotional difficulties if workers’ compensation is not available.

Required by Law

As previously discussed, laws vary by state. Agencies and officers must research the laws and follow up with vendors to make sure they are covered. Even if off-duty employers carry workers’ compensation benefits, the limits may not cover everything the officers need. Liability coverage also becomes a problem when a suspect or innocent citizen gets hurt during an altercation.

Agencies must also pay attention to the details when partnering with companies that provide administration and insurance for off-duty services. Many companies claim to have a comprehensive off-duty solution, while they offer only scheduling software or charge officers extra fees for insurance coverage. A reputable all-inclusive off-duty program covers officers with compensation insurance and liability coverage at no cost to the officers or agencies. The vendors are the only party that should pay for the insurance coverage of off-duty officers.

How can an off-duty management company provide insurance to officers?

A reputable off-duty management company offers workers’ compensation benefits and liability coverage to officers by signing them on as 1099 employees. The management company then takes over the responsibility of invoicing, collections, and payments, as well. Officers and their agencies should never get charged for these services. Agencies should ask the following questions before signing with an off-duty administrative program.

  • Does your company offer workers’ compensation and liability at no extra charge?
  • What are the coverage limits of the policy?
  • Does your company offer an all-inclusive solution? (no extra fees or tiered pricing)
  • Does the program charge officers or agencies for insurance coverage?

Off-duty jobs should not come with extra risks. Police officers should be able to supplement their income without taking on extra risks.

The Solution

Outsourcing administrative and insurance responsibilities proves the best solution to supplying off-duty officers with workers’ compensation benefits and liability coverage. A company dedicated to protecting officers can effectively handle all administrative, insurance, and payment responsibilities. This releases the agency from these duties, increases officer protection, and saves the agency money. Take the time to research off-duty solutions and reach out to Off Duty Management to get more information about mitigating risk for your officers working off-duty hours.

The protection of off-duty officers should always remain a priority. They spend their entire career protecting others, both on and off duty. If an injury while working off-duty results in a compensation claim, make sure they have sufficient and reliable coverage by partnering with a comprehensive off-duty management provider.