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Are Nursing Home Volunteers Covered Under Workers’ Compensation?

Gerry Dumke
Posted on: August 29, 2016 by Gerry Dumke

Volunteers are an incredible asset to nursing homes and eldercare centers around the country. Not only do these volunteers commit endless amounts of time, talent, and efforts contributing to the services provided by nursing home but there is also a significant cost savings in using volunteers. In fact, according to a study by Independent Sector, the cost savings of utilizing volunteers adds up to an estimated value of $23.56 per volunteer hour.

In integrating the services of volunteers into an organization one of the most important risk issues an organization such as a nursing home or other senior care facility has to consider is whether workplace injuries are covered under its Workers’ Compensation program. Many business owners mistakenly assume volunteers are covered under Workers’ Compensation, however, for the majority, this may not be the case.

Since volunteers are not paid employees, they are typically not covered under Workers’ Compensation in most states or by most insurers. As their professional insurance broker, be sure to discuss with your nursing home clients whether volunteers can be covered under their Workers’ Comp coverage and to what extent. Also, your clients should be familiar with how their state’s Workers’ Comp regulations apply to volunteers. States treat volunteers and paid employees differently, and for this reason, the Workers’ Compensation law for a given state and insurer policies must be reviewed carefully to determine whether a volunteer qualifies.

If the state or insurer covers volunteers under Workers’ Compensation, then an endorsement can be added to the policy. If the state where the nursing home is located does not permit Workers’ Comp insurance to cover volunteer workers, an organization may look at buying a volunteer-accident medical insurance policy. This policy can be designed to pay the medical bills of a volunteer injured “on the job”. A nursing home may also look at asking volunteers to sign a hold-harmless agreement specifying that they understand that the organization is not responsible for any injuries or accidents occurring in their capacity as volunteers.

Caitlin Morgan specializes in insuring nursing homes and other senior care facilities and provides comprehensive insurance solutions, including Workers’ Compensation coverage, to protect against the various risks faced by these organizations. We can assist you in determining the extent of coverage for a client under a comp program and provide the appropriate solutions. Give us a call at 877.226.1027.

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