insurance: blank work injury claim form on desk

Workers’ Compensation

Workers’ compensation involves a key tradeoff between the employer and employee. The employer agrees to compensate an employee for lost time from work and for their medical bills if they are injured on the job, regardless of fault. The employee agrees to accept the benefits of the workers’ compensation system and waive their right to other legal action. Workers’ compensation is their sole remedy. Key points of the system are:

  1. The injured worker has to be an employee.
  2. The worker must sustain an injury.
  3. The injury must arise out of and occur in the course and scope of their employment.
  4. Workers’ compensation is a no fault system.

The test as to whether or not an injury is compensable is:

  • did the injury arise out of employment and
  • did it occur in the course and scope of their employment

Workers’ compensation law in Iowa requires most employers to provide benefits to eligible employees who have injuries arising out of and in the course of employment. Workers’ compensation premiums are, in part, based on the organization’s loss experience. So, by preventing claims from happening and mitigating claims that do, a city can have a positive impact on the rates paid.

Cities should also have policies in place requiring employees to immediately report any workplace injury. This is not only to provide the employee with high quality medical care if needed, but also to prevent similar types of injuries from occurring in the workplace. Workplaces and the way work is performed should be continually evaluated to reduce the risk of injuries. Cities should also work with their workers’ compensation insurance provider to have current policies in place regarding injury prevention, injury reporting, directing medical care and the best ways to return injured employees back to the workforce.


The Iowa Municipalities Workers’ Compensation Association (IMWCA) was formed in 1981. The initial effort to organize was coordinated by the Iowa League of Cities in response to numerous cities having their coverage canceled by standard insurance carriers. IMWCA is a self-funded risk sharing pool that provides workers’ compensation coverage to local governments including cities, counties, other political subdivisions and entities formed by intergovernmental agreements. Today, more than 500 employers choose IMWCA for coverage of their employees. The association is governed by a Board of Trustees whose nine members are elected and appointed officials nominated and elected by the membership. Administrative services are provided by Iowa League of Cities staff members who pride themselves in offering unparalleled personal service in the areas of underwriting, claims and loss control.

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