What is WorkSafeBC Personal Optional Protection?
Personal Optional Protection (“POP”) coverage is an optional workplace disability insurance that protects self-employed proprietors and partners in a partnership. Proprietors and partners are not automatically covered under the Workers Compensation Act (the “Act”). Section 4(2) of the Act provides that WorkSafeBC (the “Board”) may direct that the compensation provisions of the Act apply to an independent operator or an employer (on terms specified in the Board’s direction) as if the employer/independent operator was a worker. The Board may provide such coverage through its POP program. The Assessment Manual addresses various aspects of POP coverage.
Although optional, it is highly recommended that individuals in these groups purchase POP coverage. Once purchased and in the event of a work-related injury, the individual is entitled to the same compensation benefits as a worker, subject to the amount of POP purchased. Such benefits include health care, wage-loss, and rehabilitation benefits.
People can choose how much wage-loss coverage they want to purchase. In 2021, the minimum monthly coverage a person can purchase is $2,500 and the maximum coverage is equal to the person’s current monthly earnings or $8,333, whichever is less. If an individual is injured at work, the Board generally pays wage-loss benefits based on 90 percent of net average earnings (the average amount remaining after probable deductions). The amount a person receives from the Board depends on the selected coverage amount. For example, if minimum coverage ($2,500) is purchased, the approximate monthly wage-loss benefits received will be approximately $1,972. Similarly, if the maximum is purchased ($7,500), the approximate monthly wage-loss benefits received would be approximately $5,176.
The cost of the POP coverage depends on the selected monthly amount of coverage and the net premium rate. Premium rates are based on the nature of one’s business. To calculate how much you will pay monthly for your coverage, multiply the monthly amount you selected with your net premium rate.
Because POP coverage is an insurance plan to replace lost wages and cover medical care, the amount a person purchases should reflect their actual earnings. Since POP coverage may be the only source of income if you can’t work due to a work-related injury or illness, be sure to apply for enough coverage. It is often seen that people buy the most minimum coverage available, even when they earn double or triple that amount. At the time of purchasing, this may seem like a wise decision (let us be honest, no one wants to spend more than they have to); however, it may have significant long-term impacts. For example, if your regular earnings are over $5,000 per month and you purchase the minimum coverage amount ($2,500), the maximum you will receive is approximately $1,972 per month. This amount may not be enough to cover even your basic living expenses. Professions (such as long-haul truck drivers) with a high risk of psychological and physical injury should seriously consider purchasing higher insurance. A simple decision to purchase POP coverage equivalent to your actual earnings will protect you and your family from major economic loss, in the event of a workplace injury.
Do I Need Personal Optional Protection?
We are often contacted by injured self-employed workers (or dependants of deceased self-employed workers) regarding questions and concerns about exceedingly low payments from WorkSafeBC. Many of these queries are from self-employed long haul truck drivers (or dependants of the deceased driver) that purchased the minimum amount of POP from WorkSafeBC, which is $2,500.00 as of January 1, 2021 (https://www.worksafebc.com/en/insurance/need-coverage/optional-coverage/personal-optional-protection).
The complaints are quite often similar: “I can’t live off of less than $2,000.00 per month!” Unfortunately, these workers are told that the level of their compensation entitlement will not increase as it is based on the POP coverage that they paid for.
If you know of anyone (friends, relatives, clients, patients, neighbours, etc.) who is self-employed in B.C., it may be prudent to ask them if they have adequate POP coverage. Not many can live off of less the minimum coverage.
Please note that the information provided in this post is obtained from the WorkSafeBC website.
If you would like to schedule a consultation appointment with one of our lawyers, please call us at (604) 591-8187. You can also send a private and confidential message using our contact form or an email to email@example.com.
 A proprietor or a partner of a business that is not a limited company may apply for Personal Optional Protection.
 See Item AP1-4-3, Personal Optional Protection, of the Assessment Manual.