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Tradespeople & caretakers: Check they have the right insurance tools for the job

By Lia de Sousa on

Have you hired a tradesperson, or appointed caretakers to carry out works on behalf of an Owners Corporation (OC)? Make sure they have the right tools for the job. Public Liability Insurance is essential and, as a Strata Manager, it’s your responsibility to ensure the tradies you engage have Public Liability Insurance protection.

Why do Strata Managers need to worry about tradies having Public Liability Insurance?

If you’ve appointed a tradesperson or caretaker to perform maintenance duties at a strata property, and the contractor doesn’t have Public Liability Insurance, you could be exposed to a Professional Indemnity claim if something goes wrong. As a Strata Manager for the property, the OC can hold you accountable for a breach of professional duty, whereby due diligence was not exercised when engaging the contractor.

Why does a tradesperson need Public Liability Insurance?

If a tradesperson carrying out work at an OC were to cause damage to property or personal injury (actual or alleged), a claim could be brought against them by the OC and / or affected individuals. While in general there is no law requiring tradespeople to have Public Liability Insurance, this coverage is highly recommended in order to protect the tradesperson against claims for property damage and bodily injury if found liable.

Does a caretaker need their own insurance too?

If any property damage or injury (actual or alleged) is caused by a strata resident in the position of caretaker, the caretaker themselves would be deemed liable, not the OC.

The Public Liability section of a Strata Insurance policy is only designed to cover damage sustained by residents or third parties in common areas of the strata property. There is no Public Liability protection for damages resulting from the actions of a caretaker. Therefore, the caretaker must hold their own Public Liability Insurance.

What about residents who volunteer – are they covered?

If residents volunteer to perform maintenance duties at a strata property, ensure they are aware of the potential liability risks they face.

In general, a volunteer worker performing work on behalf of their OC will be protected under the Public Liability section of the Strata Insurance policy. However, this can vary on a case by case basis, and it is important to check whether the voluntary works in question are covered.

Obtaining proof of Insurance from your tradesperson or caretaker.

Public Liability Insurrance standing on a rack with article borderWhen asking tradespeople or caretakers if they have Public Liability Insurance, a simple “Yes I do!” should never be deemed sufficient. Ensure they provide a valid Certificate of Currency from their insurer, showing an active policy is in place, including adequate Sums Insured.

Whitbread’s Holger Schnabel, Commercial Account Manager, explains below how important it is for Strata Managers to record proof of the contractor’s insurance.

“It is best practice to keep a register of all the tradespeople used by the OC, including the caretaker. It is important to note that a copy of a Certificate of Currency has been sighted, and also, to retain a copy of this for your records.

“It is crucial for the Strata Manager or OC to review their tradesperson register annually, ensuring all contractors and caretakers engaged have a current Public Liability Insurance policy in place”.

Need to organise Public Liability Insurance? We can help!

If your strata properties engage external contractors, or use resident caretakers / building managers to perform maintenance on behalf of the OC, Whitbread can assist with the necessary insurance requirements.

A Public Liability Insurance policy will help ensure the contractors have financial protection should something go wrong.

With a recommended liability limit of at least $10,000,000, Public Liability Insurance can provide cover for a variety of works:

  • painting
  • garden maintenance
  • common area cleaning, and
  • minor building maintenance.

Note: plumbing and electrical works are excluded. These must be carried out by practitioners licensed through their respective state body.

Our recommendation

It’s simple - don’t engage a tradesperson or caretaker without a valid Public Liability Insurance policy! Ensure any parties hired to perform works on behalf of the OC have:

  1. the right insurance,
  2. the right sums insured, and
  3. a Certificate of Currency to prove it.

If you are ever unsure, please give us a call for specialist advice.

If you have tradespeople or caretakers at your strata properties who require assistance organising Public Liability Insurance, please contact our Commercial Insurance team:

P: 1300 424 627

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This article is not intended to be personal advice and you should not rely on it as a substitute for any form of personal advice. Please contact Whitbread Associates Pty Ltd ABN 69 005 490 228 Licence Number: 229092 trading as Whitbread Insurance Brokers for further information or refer to our website.

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Experienced insurance advisers from both Whitbread's Strata and Commercial departments, have joined forces to highlight the key areas of insurance where Strata Management business owners should pay attention. 


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