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Volunteering at your Strata property. Is it worth the risk?

By Lia de Sousa on

Volunteering for odd jobs around your Strata property? Think you’re covered for Personal Accident under the Strata Insurance if you’re injured? Think again!

While all Strata Insurance policies generally include a Personal Accident section to protect Volunteer Workers in the event they sustain an injury, most are not aware of how limited the cover actually is.

This article will ensure you’re fully informed of what is actually covered before volunteering your services.

Many Strata residents often volunteer to do useful jobs around a Strata property. Whether it be taking rubbish bins out, mowing the lawn or doing a bit of handywork in the common area, volunteering can come in many forms. Unfortunately however volunteers can sometimes sustain unexpected injuries.

Below we explain the insured features of Voluntary Workers cover, but first let’s start with the basics.

What is Personal Accident Cover for Voluntary Workers?

Personal Accident Cover for Voluntary Workers is designed to provide compensation to any person who voluntarily works on behalf of the Owner’s Corporation (OC),and becomes injured in the course of carrying out their voluntary activity.

What is covered under Personal Accident Cover for Voluntary Workers?

Coverage for Personal Accident, under a Strata Insurance policy, generally only applies in very serious and specific circumstances. This is where confusion can set in…

To help clarify what is covered when it comes to Personal Accident for Voluntary Workers, we have taken an extract from a typical Strata Insurance Product Disclosure Statement below:Injured worker v2

In general: the insurer will pay to a Voluntary Worker, or that person’s estate, compensation in the event a Voluntary Worker sustains bodily injury during the period of Insurance:

Whilst voluntarily engaged in work on the OC’s behalf and;
caused solely and directly by violent, accidental, external and visible means and;
which independently of any other cause results in the insured Events listed below:

  1. $200,000 for death, or loss of the use of two hands, two feet or two eyes;
  2. $100,000 for loss of the use of one hand, one foot or one eye;
  3. $2,000 a week for lost income if totally disabled from engaging in his/her usual employment or business;
  4. $1,000 a week for lost income if partially disabled from engaging in his/her usual employment or business;
  5. up to $500 a week for domestic assistance if totally disabled from engaging in his/her usual employment or business or usual household duties.

In essence, Personal Accident cover only really applies to cases involving very serious accidents that have a significant, detrimental impact on your quality of life.

It is not designed to cover minor injuries like a sprained ankle or broken limb, or the cost of minor treatments that may be required as a result of an injury e.g. physiotherapy.

For more specific information on what is and isn’t covered in your particular policy, we suggest talking to your insurance broker.

If you do however decide to undertake voluntary work at your Strata property, there are 3 important steps you need to take to ensure you’re covered for Personal Accident.

Before commencing the work:

  1. Gain approval from the OC
    Before undertaking any voluntary job, it is imperative to obtain written approval to volunteer from your OC, or any other party authorised to provide approval on behalf of the OC e.g. the appointed Strata Manager.

  2. Make sure your name is recorded by the OC
    As a volunteer, it is important that your name and the type of voluntary work you are performing is noted in official records kept by the OC. Written evidence of your services must exist in order to lodge a claim if you are injured while carrying out your work.

  3. No payment of any kind
    You cannot receive any reimbursement for the voluntary work you are performing. This may be in the form of monetary payments, ‘gifts’ or even discounts off your Strata fees. If any form of payment is received, the work can no longer be defined as voluntary, and you will not be covered under the Personal Accident section of the policy if you become injured. 

Is it worth the risk? Should we just engage a professional contractor?

This is something you need to think carefully about, because it is unlikely you will be covered for Personal Accident under a Strata policy unless you sustain a serious injury.

The Voluntary Workers section of a Strata Insurance policy only provides protection for worst case scenarios e.g. loss of life, loss of a limb, circumstances where partial or total disability occurs. So, after taking all this information into account, we feel the answer should be quite simple…

If you don’t feel comfortable with the risk, don’t volunteer your services.

If the work to be undertaken cannot be safely completed by voluntary workers, the best alternative is to request that the OC engage the services of a professional contractor.

Note: When engaging a professional contractor, there are a number of things you need to check from an insurance point of view to make sure the OC’s Liability is protected – click here to read our essential tips.

To read more on the other risks covered by Strata Insurance, please click here.

For further advice on Personal Accident cover for Voluntary Workers under a Strata Insurance policy, please contact your Whitbread Strata Insurance Specialist or phone us on ph. 1300 424 627.

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This insight 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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