What is Volunteer Workers Insurance?
For many organisations, volunteers are vital cogs that keep the machinery of business going at full strength. Without them, normal operations would often grind to a halt.
But despite the important role performed by many volunteer workers all across Australia, many companies have little or no insurance cover in place in the event that a volunteer is injured while helping out. Because volunteers do not receive a wage and are therefore not eligible for workers’ compensation cover, it makes sense to put insurance cover in place to offer protection against unfortunate accidents.
Voluntary workers insurance is designed to protect volunteer workers against financial loss caused by their injury. It offers peace of mind that comes with knowing they will be protected should disaster strike.
- What Does Voluntary Workers Insurance Cover?
- Additional Voluntary Workers Insurance Cover Benefits to Consider
- What does Voluntary Workers Insurance not Cover?
- Voluntary Workers Insurance Duty of Disclosure
- Making a Voluntary Workers Insurance Claim
- Risks Associated With Volunteer Workers
- How to Compare Voluntary Workers Insurance Policies
- Voluntary Workers Insurance FAQs
What Does Voluntary Workers Insurance Cover?
Events that will generally be covered under a Voluntary Workers Policy include those listed below. Benefit amounts and types offered will vary depending on the event suffered by the insured person.
- If as a result of the injury the insured person becomes completely incapable of carrying out all of the usual duties of their occupation. It’s important to note that there must be no normal duties that they are still capable of performing.
- If the insured person does not have an occupation, cover will be provided if they become totally incapable of carrying out some of their usual duties, resulting in the necessary cost of employing domestic help as a result.
- If the insured person becomes totally and permanently incapable or performing any occupation at all as a result of their workplace injury, a lump sum payment will be provided. To receive this benefit there must be no occupation at all that the insured person can reasonably carry out.
- If the insured person dies as a result of an injury suffered while working as a volunteer.
- Total and permanent loss of all sight in both eyes.
- Total and permanent loss of the use of both hands.
- Total and permanent loss of the use of both feet.
- Total and permanent loss of the use of one hand and one foot.
- Total and permanent loss of the use of one arm or the greater portion of one arm.
- Total and permanent loss of the use of one leg.
- Total and permanent loss of all sight in one eye as well as the irrecoverable loss of at least 50 per cent of sight in the other eye.
- Total and permanent loss of the use of one hand, or four fingers and the thumb of one hand, or the lower part of one arm.
- Total and permanent loss of the use of one foot or the lower part of one leg.
- Total and permanent loss of hearing.
- Total and irrecoverable loss of the lens of, or of all sight in, one of two eyes.
- Burns or disfigurement to more than 50 per cent of the body.
- Total and permanent loss of the use of either phalanx of either thumb or of any finger.
- Total and permanent loss of hearing in one ear.
- Total and permanent loss of use of any toe other than a great toe.
- Rehabilitation expenses. If the insured person suffers temporary total or partial disablement, a voluntary workers insurance policy will cover the cost of tuition or advice from a licensed vocational school. However, you’ll usually have to get the agreement of your insurer and your doctor before receiving the tuition or advice.
- Age limitation extension. Generally, for those aged between 75 and 85 years of age, cover may be able to be extended up to a certain amount for a limited period of time.
- Corporate image protection. If a claim on an organisation’s voluntary workers insurance policy is likely to result in a benefit being paid for accidental death or total and permanent disablement, that organisation may need to take steps to protect its image and reputation. Voluntary workers insurance policies often offer an additional benefit which allows organisations to be reimbursed for the costs incurred for engaging the services of image or public relations consultants, or for releasing information through the media.
- Home/car modification expenses. If a voluntary worker suffers an injury which results in them requiring modifications to their home, workplace and/or car in order to be able to maintain an independent existence, this benefit will cover the costs involved in making these modifications.
- Chauffeur services. If a voluntary worker suffers a certain injury while working for your organisation, this optional benefit provides cover for the cost of a chauffeur or taxi service to and from the injured person’s usual place of work and their home.
- Funeral expenses. If an insured person suffers accidental death while working as a voluntary worker, your insurance policy can cover the burial or cremation expenses that result.
What does Voluntary Workers Insurance not Cover?
There are, however, a number of instances where a voluntary workers insurance benefit will not be paid. These include:
- When a claim arises from any deliberately self-inflicted injury.
- Any claim related to the taking of poisonous substances or drugs, except as prescribed by a medical practitioner
- If you are under the influence of, or addicted to, alcohol, your claim will not be paid.
- Claims arising from the insured person suffering a hernia.
- Any injury suffered in an accident that occurs before your policy period commences will not be covered.
- If the insured person is injured while taking part in a sporting activity, the claim will not be paid. Similarly, if the insured person is travelling by air or taking part in any aerial activities when the injury is suffered then a claim will not be paid.
- If the claim arises from the insured person taking part in a riot or any illegal or criminal activity.
- Claims resulting from war or warlike activity will not be paid, nor will those arising from acts of foreign enemies, terrorism, insurrection or revolution.
- Any claims involving radioactivity, nuclear energy or nuclear weapons material will not be covered.
Voluntary Workers Insurance Duty of Disclosure
No matter what type of insurance you’re applying for, it’s vital that you are completely upfront and honest with your insurance provider throughout the entirety of the application process. It’s up to you to tell your insurer everything you know, and even everything you should know, that may in any way affect their decision to insure you or the terms of your insurance policy. Answer any questions from your insurance provider truthfully, and make sure to disclose all relevant information.
If you withhold any relevant information or do not answer your insurer’s questions honestly, you could cause yourself a whole lot of trouble. If you have not fulfilled your duty of disclosure, your insurer can reduce the amount it pays for your claim or even cancel your policy. If your failure to disclose is deemed fraudulent or if you answer untruthfully, your insurance provider can treat your policy as if it never existed. Take a sensible and honest approach at all times to prevent any issues or difficulties further down the line.
To find out more about voluntary workers insurance and finding the right level of cover for your needs, speak to an insurance consultant to receive tailored advice.Back to top
Making a Voluntary Workers Insurance Claim
Though the process for making a voluntary workers insurance claim differs from one provider to the next, the first step is to notify your insurer of the situation immediately. If a voluntary worker suffers an injury while performing their duties, get in touch with your insurer as soon as you can — this may be by phone or email, depending on your provider. Most companies will also require written notice of any incident within 30 days of it occurring.
Once you’ve notified your insurer, it’s time to fill out and submit a claim form. This will contain details of the worker involved, the incident that occurred and the injury resulting from that event. In some cases your insurer will ask for supporting information such as witness statements or medical reports and it’s up to you to provide any information required as quickly as possible. Being upfront and honest with your insurer is the best way to guarantee the quick and successful processing of your claim.
As for the injured party, they must seek and follow medical advice, plus obtain a medical certificate confirming the nature and extent of their injury.
Once again, the time an insurer will take to process your claim varies on the provider and the complexity of your claim. Make sure you maintain regular contact with the person handling your claim and submit any information they require as soon as possible.Back to top
Risks Associated With Volunteer Workers
While they can be crucial to the success of an organisation, volunteer workers will also present certain risks that you need to be aware of. Volunteers face the risk of being injured as the result of an accident or from physical assault. On the other hand, volunteers can be responsible for accidents that result in injury and claims for compensation from third parties, or volunteers could offer negligent advice to clients which could then result in them suffering a loss.
It’s the responsibility of an organisation to ensure adequate cover is in place for its volunteer workers, though there are certain limitations to be wary of. For example, volunteers under 15 years of age are only able to perform certain tasks and work for certain periods of time by law. In addition, if your volunteers are over a certain age limit, for example 90 years old, they may not be covered by your insurance policy.
It’s important that you keep your volunteers informed about what is and isn’t covered under your personal accident insurance policy. This will help them make an informed decision about the benefits and risks of working for your organisation.Back to top
How to Compare Voluntary Workers Insurance Policies
There are a number of factors you need to take into consideration when comparing voluntary workers insurance policies.
- Assess the risk. First of all, you need to assess how many voluntary workers you have and the type of work they are doing. Do you regularly use the services of a large number of volunteers? Do they perform work in high-risk or hazardous areas, or do they simply perform low-risk office duties? Answering these questions will help you determine the amount of cover you need.
- Cover for work travel.The next tip is to consider whether policies provide cover for your volunteers when they are travelling to and from work. This is an important consideration and can influence the cost of your policy and the level of cover you have in place. All policies also impose age restrictions on the workers they insure, so check whether your volunteers would still be eligible for cover.
- Review policy features.Compare the benefits offered by each policy and remember to take note of the limits and exclusions and make sure to read the product disclosure statement closely.
- Assess suitability of a policy.Use comparison tools to weigh up the pros and cons of a number of policies. Get quotes from several insurance providers and rather than simply accepting the cheapest quote you receive, research exactly what each policy offers to ensure you get a tailored deal.
- Consider a broker.Insurance brokers can also offer vital advice when you’re shopping for cover. A broker can offer their expert knowledge to help find a policy that suits your business down to the ground.
Voluntary Workers Insurance FAQs
Q. Are voluntary workers eligible for workers’ compensation cover?
- A. No. Because these workers are volunteers and are not paid for the duties they perform, they are not eligible for cover under workers’ compensation. As a result, taking out extra insurance to cover your volunteers is a vital move for many businesses.
Q. Are volunteer workers important to my business?
- A. Voluntary workers are often crucial to the successful operation of a business — they’re important assets that should be protected. In addition, having insurance cover in place generates goodwill with volunteer workers and will certainly make them more willing to offer their services to your organisation.
Q. How do I find the right voluntary workers insurance policy for me?
- A. In order to find the voluntary workers insurance policy that best suits your needs, start by comparing various policy options. Obtain quotes from multiple insurers and weigh up the features and benefits offered by each policy. Read product disclosure statements closely to familiarise yourself with limits and exclusions, and seek recommendations from fellow professionals for particular companies.
Q. How can I save money on cover?
- A. Depending on the insurer, some providers may offer you a discount if you bundle your voluntary workers insurance with other business insurance policies. Speak to your insurance provider to see what they can offer you.
Q. I need help choosing a policy — where should I turn?
- A. Finder.com.au is a valuable resource when it comes to comparing a range of voluntary workers insurance policies. However, for expert and in-depth advice tailored to your business, seek out the services of an insurance broker. A professional broker will take the time to understand the needs of your business and help match them with the right insurance policy.