INSURANCE POLICIES WILL NEED FIXING IF YOU PICK UP A TOOL BEFORE CHECKING YOUR COVER
Gutters need fixing? Hallway lights need changing?
If you’re thinking about getting some work done around your community this summer, be sure to dodge the DIY dangers of volunteer strata handy work. Strata residents often volunteer for odd jobs around their property and whilst seemingly harmless and good practice in fact can cause a whole host of DIY dangers and insurance woes. Recent incidents we’ve been made aware of involve well intentioned residents, not being covered for accident or injury thanks to insurance policies, which directly work to exclude volunteer work.
Whether it be taking the rubbish bins out, mowing the lawns or doing a bit of handiwork in the common areas, volunteering can come in many forms. Residents tend to volunteer their services with the belief that they are covered for Personal Accident under their Strata Insurance policy if they become injured. Unfortunately this isn’t always the case. Strata Communities need to make sure residents are fully informed of what is covered before volunteering their services, and whether it would instead be smarter to engage a professional contractor- as is the case most of the time.
While all strata insurance policies generally include a personal accident section to protect volunteer workers in the event they sustain an injury, most people are not aware to how limited this cover actually is. Personal accident cover for voluntary workers is designed to provide compensation to any person who voluntarily works on behalf of the strata community, and becomes injured in the course of carrying out their voluntary activity.
What most people are generally unaware of however, is that personal accident cover only really applies to very serious accidents that have a significant, detrimental impact on quality of life, including loss of limbs, eyesight and death.
The policy is not designed to cover minor injuries like a sprained ankle or broken bone, or the cost of minor treatments required as a result of an injury e.g. physiotherapy; much more likely scenarios to occur.For example, Joe Blogs living in apartment two may seem like the perfect man to mow the lawns, but after tripping over whilst undertaking his task has suffered a broken leg. Joe now finds he has next to no chance of being covered for his injuries under the Strata Insurance policy.
Is it worth the risk? Considering most voluntary workers section of a strata insurance policy only provides cover for worst case scenarios the answer should be pretty simple.
Dodge the DIY dangers, engage a professional contactor for all necessary services!
DIY work is cheap, but voided insurance isn’t worth the risk.
If it is necessary to engage a volunteer for services on your strata property there are three important steps to make sure the volunteer is covered for Personal Accident.
Gain approval from the Owner’s Corporation (OC)
Before undertaking any voluntary job, it is imperative to obtain written approval to volunteer from the OC, or any other party authorised to provide approval e.g. the appointed Strata Managers
Make sure their name is recorded by the OC
As a volunteer, it is important that their name and the type of voluntary work they are performing is noted in official records. Written evidence of their services must exist in order to lodge an insurance claim.
No Payment of any kind.
The volunteer cannot receive any reimbursement for volunteer work. This may be in the form of monetary payments, ‘gifts’ or even discounts off OC fees. If any form of payment is received the work cannot be defined as voluntary
These three steps will ensure that a volunteer is covered for serious injuries and death but to avoid insurance hassles from volunteer work altogether, engage professional contractors for any required work and dodge the DIY dangers.
The content presented above is not intended to be advice and you should not rely on it as a substitute for any form of advice. This content is intended to be used for general information purposes only and may or may not reference the varied and constantly evolving strata legislation in each state and territory of Australia. It is always recommended that you seek independent legal instruction for interpretation of relevant strata legislation in your relevant state or territory.
Ace Body Corporate Management