Workers Compensation - exempted owners, independent contractors and casual labor for Real Estate Staging, Interior Design and Home Organizer Companies. Beware the pitfalls!
Worker’s Compensation can be a confusing topic with substantial additional expense to a company’s bottom line; it is further complicated by the IRS, Courts, and even state statutes. Many staging and design companies are moving furniture on a daily basis, or opt to use 3rd party movers, either way there is exposure. In addition, having employees on the road increases the exposure as injuries in auto accidents to employees are considered workers compensation claims. In the end, whether your business in Home Staging, Interior Design, or you are a Home Organizer, it pays to have and SDO-Pro look at your Workers Compensation Insurance exposure.
At SDO-Pro (Pen-Ex) we receive calls from owners of staging and design companies with questions and comments on this topic. Comments range from “It’s just me and I don’t use anyone else to help”, “I use friends, family or casual labor to help from time to time and they won’t sue me”, “I use a moving company and they are just owners so they don’t need work comp coverage”. “They can’t sue as they are not my employees.” These are all common concepts and most are misguided.
Don’t assume you or your homeowner won’t be held liable. The last thing you want is to deal with is an uncovered serious injury to yourself or someone else and a potential law suit. Here are the top frequently asked questions at SDO-Pro from our stagers, designers and organizers, and our responses:
- Will health insurance cover my injuries? - Many times, an individual or group health insurance plan will not cover work-related injuries. Check with your health insurance carrier to confirm that they do offer 24/7 coverage. There is a big misconception among owners that they have coverage for themselves for work related injuries.
- I just won’t mention that this is a work-related injury- When I get to the emergency room, I’ll just say it happened at home. In most states that is considered insurance fraud.
- I use a moving company, I asked for proof of work comp but they are just owners and/or have the state exemption. That may be the case but if someone is seriously injured, they can look to the staging company owner or homeowner to pay the claim based on negligence.
- My moving company provided proof of insurance but their owner is excluded. He moves furniture. What happens if injured? If his health insurance does not cover the claim and he can prove negligence, he could sue you or the homeowner.
What to do to protect your business. Moving furniture increases the probability of on the job injury. It is never a good idea to work as an uncovered owner, or with a company exempting (or excluding) the owner or themselves from work comp. Although this is an additional cost it fails in comparison to a lawsuit for a large amount of medical bills and legal expenses. Confirm you and/or your mover has the proper insurance in place. In addition, many insured are under the impression that a Certificate of Insurance will indemnify you should a third part get hurt, but this is most likely not true. Every business owner needs to have contracts with both their clients, and their subcontracted workers, and in those contracts should have wording for both hold harmless and indemnification language. At SDO-Pro we take the extra step to provide risk management services including: service contract and subcontractor agreement review. Risk management is an ongoing process, and there is no one-fix solution, but a continued vigilance that you maintain throughout your business’ life. SDO-Pro’s risk management subscription provides the beacon of light in your search for risk management tools and is there for you when things go wrong. We, at SDO-Pro, like to think of our risk management subscription as “Road-Side Assistance” for your business – there when you need us. Reach out to an SDO-Pro at www.pen-ex.com for review of your policies, contract and business practices.
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