Nov 08, 2018

Are Volunteers Covered Under Workers’ Compensation Policies?

Category: Social Services

Volunteers serve as a great asset to organizations, non-profits and businesses. Generally unpaid, these individuals take it upon themselves to further the mission of the entity they’re offering their time to, such as hospitals, senior citizen centers and schools. But while volunteers are priceless additions to helping out a worthy cause, they can also pose a liability risk for the organizations they’re a part of.

According to the most updated data from the United States Department of Labor, nearly 63 million people in the United States volunteer their time to some degree. That comes out to nearly 63 million possible insurance issues on a regular basis. Many business overlook who pays the medical bills if a volunteer gets hurt, which makes understanding social services insurance programs an issue.

Injuries and Medical Bill Pay

While injuries to volunteers might not happen every day, or even that often given the short periods of time in which they serve, they can still happen. From running errands to disaster relief to dealing with patients at facilities that pose a risk to those around them, volunteers face the same issues that regular staff do.

Many business owners or organizations have an idea that volunteers are covered under the same workers’ compensation umbrella as regular employees. This is not true and can land  a company in hot water legally. There are specifically designed insurance options for social workers and the organizations they volunteer at to help protect against legal issues and pricy medical bills. These businesses and organizations need to be made aware of this fact so they can avoid costly issues.

Workers’ Compensation

While workers’ compensation is a good piece of coverage to have installed for regular employees, it shouldn’t be mistook for broad coverage that protects volunteers. In fact, the reality is that since volunteers aren’t paid individuals, they’re typically not covered under this policy in most states.

Some companies may take the step to add a voluntary compensation endorsement to their policies. While this is also a good step, it still doesn’t cover the liabilities that volunteers face and pose. Voluntary compensation endorsements do not cover volunteers and business owners need to be made clear of this by their insurance providers.

State Workers’ Comp

Typically, states see volunteers and paid employees as two different categories. Because of this, insurer policies and state policies need to be reviewed meticulously to understand the reach of coverage and the consequences of miscalculating specifics. If a volunteer gets hurt while performing a task and they need medical attention, clients need to know who will pay their medical bills. The general liability policy likely won’t cover this and, after all, the volunteer is not an employee. Knowing where things stand state by state will open up the opportunity for solutions.


About Tangram Insurance Services

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