Re: Cohousing community work and Insurance
From: Elizabeth Magill (
Date: Wed, 6 Jan 2016 05:33:39 -0800 (PST)
As folk reply I guess I'd also want to know if anyone has ever had someone
hurt at their work and had trouble getting the healthcare they needed?


On Tuesday, January 5, 2016, Syndallas Baughman <syndallas [at]> 

> Hello All,
> Happy New Year!  I am a member of Great Oak Cohousing in Ann Arbor.  I’ve
> lived here for 5 years now with my two sons.
> I have been working with our Finance and Legal Committee to review our
> insurance and I’m reaching out to you for some experience/ideas.
> What kind of insurance coverage does your community have for members hurt
> in the course of performing community work?  Have you ever had a member
> hurt during community work and seek compensation?
> Great Oak Cohousing has a community work program that ranges from about
> 9-11 hours per month.  We require(sort of) all adult members to work in the
> work system.  This includes owners and renters.  We encourage kids and
> teens to join in the work system as well.  We also allow members to request
> reduced to no hours as long as they provide a reason they are not working
> that season to the work committee.  The reasons are shared with the
> community.
> We currently have a standard insurance package from State Farm.  Our agent
> has told us that our insurance currently will not cover anyone who is hurt
> in the course of performing work for the community.  Our agent has stated
> that there is a possibility a renter might be covered if they can establish
> negligence in the course of their injury under our liability policy.
> We perform all sorts of jobs- cook four community meals a week,  snow
> plowing, changing light bulbs on two story ceilings, landscaping, lawn
> mowing, etc...
> I’ve manage a self insured workers comp system for my manufacturer
> employer and have talked to enough employment law/ workers comp  lawyers
> about our work program to know that we are in a real grey area in terms of
> our work program. An individual’s medical insurance could fight coverage of
> an injury if it happened during the course of compulsory community work.
> If a member was hurt during the course of community work to the point that
> they had medical bills that were not covered by their insurance or didn’t
> have medical insurance and/or couldn’t work at their job jobs it’s quite
> possible they would have a strong case to come back to the community for
> compensation.  The costs of paying medical bills or wages for a cohousing
> member hurt during the course of community work could be a real hit.  We
> should have some kind insurance standing between the injured members costs
> and the HOA’s pockets.
> Another agent is suggesting two other options
> 1) a volunteer/participation insurance that would cover some medical
> bills- but then the work program would have to be explicitly voluntary with
> waivers and what not acknowledging the voluntary nature of the work.
> or
> 2) some kind of workers comp insurance that would only cover medical bills
> because we do not pay wages.  He considers finding an underwriter for this
> a long shot but a possibility.
> So please.
> Tell me what you know!
> Thanks for your thoughts,
> Syndallas
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(The Rev.) Elizabeth M. Magill
Minister to the Affiliates, Ecclesia Ministries

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