How to Avoid DIY Disasters in Strata

Lawns need mowing? Gutters need cleaning?

It is common in strata living for residents to volunteer their services for odd jobs around the property.

However, what can seem like a harmless money-saving solution can in fact be the cause of problematic insurance issues when not managed correctly.

Before using volunteer services, strata communities need to make sure residents and any other volunteers are fully informed of what is covered under their insurance policies.

There are many incidents that involve well-intentioned volunteers not being covered for an accident or injury caused from carrying out works due to strata insurance policies, which generally work to exclude volunteer work.

Insurance Coverage for Voluntary Workers

Many volunteers believe they are covered for Personal Accident under their strata insurance policy if they become injured.

While all strata insurance policies generally include a personal accident section to protect volunteer workers in the event they sustain an injury, the cover is usually fairly limited.

Insurance coverage 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 largely unaware of however, is that personal accident cover usually only really applies to very serious accidents that have a significant impact on quality of life e.g. the loss of a limb or eyesight.

Minor injuries or the cost of minor treatments required as a result of an injury e.g. physiotherapy; are generally not covered under strata insurance policies.

Considering strata insurance only provides cover for volunteers in worst case scenarios, strata communities must decide whether it is worth the risk engaging volunteers to carry out works.

Use a professional contractor!

While volunteer DIY work might be the cheapest option it must be balanced against the risk of voided insurance. Where possible, always engage a professional contactor for all necessary services!

If it is necessary to use a volunteer for services on your strata property, there are three important steps to make sure the volunteer is covered for Personal Accident.

Step 1: Get permission

Before carrying out any voluntary job, it is essential to obtain written approval to volunteer from the body corporate, or any other party authorised to provide approval e.g. the appointed Body Corporate Manager.

Step 2: Ensure the Volunteer is Recorded

In order to lodge an insurance claim written evidence of the volunteer and their services must exist.

Make sure the name of the volunteer and the type of voluntary work they are performing is noted in official records.

Step 3: Ensure there is No Payment of any kind.

This is vital.

If any form of payment is received, the work carried out cannot be defined as voluntary.

The volunteer must not receive any reimbursement for volunteer work which includes monetary payments, “gifts”, or even discounted body corporate fees.

This will ensure that any volunteers are covered for serious injuries and death.

It is recommended to avoid insurance hassles from volunteer work altogether by engaging professional contractors for any required work and dodge the DIY dangers.

This content is intended to be used for general information purposes only. It is not intended to be personal advice and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional advice. It is always recommended to seek advice from your body corporate manager or relevant industry professional.

Author: Sam Aubrey