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Arborist health insurance question

Hunt

ArboristSite Lurker
Joined
Sep 26, 2010
Messages
19
Location
South Central PA
I am considering hiring someone for tree work who has health insurance through his employer, a utility company. This job would be something he would do on the weekend, i.e., on the side. Does anyone have experience with whether an injury suffered by the arborist on a side job would be covered by his M-F workplace insurance? Or his employer-paid worker’s comp? Thanks in advance. I am more concerned about health insurance than liability insurance.
 
CacaoBoy

CacaoBoy

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Mar 14, 2018
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Location
Big Island - Hawaii
I am considering hiring someone for tree work who has health insurance through his employer, a utility company. This job would be something he would do on the weekend, i.e., on the side. Does anyone have experience with whether an injury suffered by the arborist on a side job would be covered by his M-F workplace insurance? Or his employer-paid worker’s comp? Thanks in advance. I am more concerned about health insurance than liability insurance.
Okay, you say you are "considering hiring" which indicates you would be the employer. You are concerned about coverage for "an injury suffered by the arborist on a side job" working for you.

While it is likely that health insurance from any source would pay for medical care for injuries from any source (unless there is local law that would provide otherwise, such as the laws that make no-fault auto insurance the primary source of coverage for injuries resulting from vehicle mishaps) that is far from the end of the story. You should be thinking about workers' comp insurance when it comes to any work being done for you by an employee, even a part time, occasional worker, and even if the person might be deemed an independent contractor for some purposes. State laws set requirements for what workers need to be covered by workers' comp. If this person would be among those the state says you must provide coverage, and you have not done so, you could experience great problems in the event of an injury or death on the job. Your homeowner's insurance would not provide coverage.

Even if you have an agreement with this person that they assume all risks of injury, if state law would require workers' comp coverage it is likely that your agreement to the contrary would be void as being against public policy. And if this person suffered an injury that kept them from working, workers' comp would pay them during the period of their disability. If they die due to an injury working for you, or even if they die on the job due to a preexisting medical condition, their medical insurance would not provide death benefits, but workers' comp would.

I know many, many people who hire work to be done without providing mandatory workers' comp insurance. Usually all goes well. Often the risk of injury to the worker is small enough that it can make economic sense to skip it. But tree work is dangerous. I, personally, would not hire a person to do tree work unless I knew that person had licenses and insurance as required by the state or I had personally procured workers' comp coverage for the job.
 

Hunt

ArboristSite Lurker
Joined
Sep 26, 2010
Messages
19
Location
South Central PA
Thank you for the thoughtful reply. Since I am an individual homeowner, I don't believe it is even possible for me to purchase workers' comp insurance; I called and asked about this once.
 

Hunt

ArboristSite Lurker
Joined
Sep 26, 2010
Messages
19
Location
South Central PA
You want a hold harmless term in the contract. No different than any other contractor you have working on your property.
Based on my limited understanding of it [I'm no lawyer], I think CacaoBoy is right and that state law would trump any intention of my agreement with the arborist and hold me to be the "employer" with a consequent responsibility in the event of an accident, no matter how many ways I tried to structure the agreement to avoid that designation.

I have sympathy with arborists, weekend or otherwise, who are reluctant to take out their own individual health insurance. I ran a business for about a dozen years and paid for my own insurance; the annual premium increases were obscene. But obviously I don't want to be in the position of being held financially liable in the case of an accident; that is why I posted above.
 
CacaoBoy

CacaoBoy

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Big Island - Hawaii
OP indicates state of residence as Pennsylvania. The Penn. Workers' Compensation Act may be found at file:///C:/Users/sage.000/AppData/Local/Temp/wcact.pdf. Section 204(a) says "No agreement, composition, or release of damages made before the date of any injury shall be valid or shall bar a claim for damages resulting therefrom; and any such agreement is declared to be against the public policy of this Commonwealth." That would seem to nullify any hold harmless agreement if the state laws required workers' comp coverage for the person doing the work. The details of workers' comp are more complicated than what I want to learn.

Since I am an individual homeowner, I don't believe it is even possible for me to purchase workers' comp insurance; I called and asked about this once.
Sources for workers' comp coverage vary by state. In my area, insurance companies that handle business insurance generally offer workers' comp coverage to anyone who will pay the premium. There are businesses that provide services to employers such as handling payrolls, employee taxes, and workers' compensation. For people who employ a house cleaner, nanny, or other service provider in/about the home, if state law requires workers' comp coverage those businesses may be a source for coverage.
 
GilksTreeFelling

GilksTreeFelling

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Nov 27, 2015
Messages
273
Location
Yarmouth, Nova Scotia
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www.gilkstreefelling.ca
i cant speak to the laws in your state but here if one of my employees takes a side job on their off duty time own time WCB insurance through my company does not cover any injuries as it did not occur during the course of their employment, nor does my liability cover any damages they may cause as it was not during their employment. now if they are using company equipment*saws, lifts, climbing gear, trucks chipper etc* with my consent i could be on the hook for liability coverage for damages caused either personal or properties but still not WCB, my employees are not allow to use company equipment after hours on side jobs, if they do use company equipment after hours for side jobs off the books then they quickly get a termination notice.

for a definitive answer i would suggest speaking to a local lawyer who is proficient in these matters and knows the local laws
 
Jed1124

Jed1124

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The OP is looking to hire someone to do tree work on the side on weekends (correct anything I say that is not accurate), and is asking if he is liable for injury or worse during that said work?
If the person doing the work does not have a policy that covers them in the case of an accident, that person can sue you for damages. If that person is covered under workman’s comp he cannot sue the homeowner for damages.
Here’s the deal. Your trying to get off on the cheap. I charge between $2200 and $2500 a day for a three person crew and equipment (I help manage a company and don’t own one). At the end of the day if we make out with 25% profit we’ve had a good day. We pay liability, comp, unemployment, health insurance, vacation, sick time, a living wage, 401k’s, equipment and gear replacement, and probably a bunch of other things I’m not thinking of right now. If someone gets hurt, your covered, we’re covered.
You pays your price and takes your chances. If your getting off on the cheap there’s usually a reason.
It will probably work out fine, unless it doesn’t, and then, well......
 

Hunt

ArboristSite Lurker
Joined
Sep 26, 2010
Messages
19
Location
South Central PA
@GilksTreeFelling Thanks for your reply; it directly addresses my original post. Can't resist mentioning that my original interest in trees came from spending time in the tiny town of Greenfield, NS and talking with one of the woodsmen for the Mersey Bowater paper plant in Liverpool. Used to take a ferry from Maine up to Yarmouth. A great part of the world.
 
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