Product Fundamentals: Workers Compensation Insurance

Workers compensation insurance provides financial protection and medical support for workers who are injured in the course of their employment. Australian employers are legally required to hold a valid workers compensation policy to indemnify them against costs of workers compensation claims made by their employees.

Under the policy, workers may have access to a range of benefits including ongoing periodic payments, medical and hospital expenses and other assistance which supports recovery and return to work. Settlement may also involve lump sum compensation for a permanent impairment as pertains to the relevant scheme.

Workers compensation is regulated at a state level, as such each state scheme is administered in a different way and has its own legislation detailing requirements and penalties for employers:

  • In NSW, South Australia and Victoria, insurers operate as agents on behalf of the government authority.

  • In Queensland the scheme is operated directly by the state government itself.

  • In ACT, Northern Territory, Tasmania and Western Australia, insurance can be purchased by employers directly from approved insurers.

Pricing is dependent upon industry, number of employees, wages, claims history and categories of work performed by the company’s employees. For example, manual labour will have a higher rate than clerical and office workers. Safe Work Australia publishes regular comparative performance monitoring reports on premiums. As detailed in the most recent edition, the highest rates apply to the agricultural, forestry and fishing sector at a national average of 3.54% of payroll. Followed by 2.26% for transport, postal and warehousing and 2.2% for construction. The lowest rates are seen in financial and insurance sector at 0.23% of payroll. On a national level, average premiums have decreased across the board by an average of 3% since 2015/2016. Currently the lowest state average premium as a percentage of payroll is Queensland at 1.15%, with ACT the highest at 1.75%.

Bellrock’s approach to workers compensation

Bellrock can obtain quotations on behalf of clients in ACT, Tasmania, Northern Territory & Western Australia.  For all other states, refer to the details for the relevant scheme below.

Bellrock works with a number of third party experts to assist in articulating risk to insurers especially in cases where claims history is a significant factor.

With regard to reviewing workplace safety risk, Bellrock has partnered with The Insure Co who can conduct a Workers Compensation Review for employers which provides recommendations for risk mitigation strategies and ensures compliance with relevant state legislation and policy requirements.

A guide to workers compensation schemes by state:

The workers compensation scheme in ACT is governed by Worksafe ACT.

The scheme is privately operated by a list of approved insurers who are licensed by Worksafe ACT under the framework set out by The Workers Compensation Act 1951. Insurance from a licensed provider can also be obtained via your advisor.

New South Wales

In NSW, workers compensation insurance is obtained directly through government agency icare.

The State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA) is the NSW Government agency responsible for regulating the NSW workers compensation system. In some cases, employers may obtain a license from SIRA to manage their own workers compensation claims instead of obtaining a policy form icare, and in these cases are categorised as Self-insurers. Likewise, Specialised Insurers are employers who are licensed by SIRA to provide workers compensation insurance (and manage claims and liabilities) in a specific industry.

To obtain a quote click here.

Northern Territory

NT WorkSafe is the governing body for workers compensation insurance in the Northern Territory.

The scheme is legislated by The Return to Work Act 1986, Return to Work Regulations 1986, and The Return to Work Legislation Amendment Act 2020.

Insurance is obtained privately via insurance providers approved by NT WorkSafe as listed here. Alternatively, large employers may apply to NT WorkSafe for approval to operate as self-insurers.


The Qld workers compensations scheme is operated by government agency WorkCover Queensland where insurance can be obtained directly.

All employers in QLD must hold and maintain an accident insurance policy to cover their workers which is compliant with the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2003. In some cases large employers (with at least 2000 employees) may be eligible for self-insurance.

To obtain a quote click here.

South Australia

The SA workers compensation scheme is operated by government agency Return to Work SA which offers work injury insurance cover directly to employers.

In some cases large businesses operating in South Australia may apply for status as a self-insurer if they can demonstrate effective management of WHS and work injuries.

To obtain a quote click here.


Workers compensation in Tasmania is governed by Work Safe Tasmania.

Employers may take out a workers compensation insurance policy via a licensed insurer as published in the list on the Work Safe Tasmania website. Alternatively, larger employers  may apply to the WorkCover Tasmania Board for a permit to operate as a self insurer.


WorkSafe Victoria is the state workplace injury insurer and workplace health and safety regulator in Victoria.

WorkCover Insurance can be obtained directly from the WorkSafe website following registration by an employer. Self-insurance is also available for large employers subject to approval by WorkSafe.

To obtain a quote click here.

Western Australia

WorkCover WA is the government agency which administers and regulates workers compensation in Western Australia.

The scheme is legislated under the Workers’ Compensation and Injury Management Act 1981.

Insurance is obtained via an insurer approved by WorkCover WA as listed here. Alternatively, individual employers may apply to WorkCover WA for approval to manage their own workers compensation independently, known as ‘exempt’ or ‘self-insurers’.

For further information or advice relating to workers compensation insurance and workplace safety risk management please contact us via the form below.

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