Cohousing community work and Insurance
From: Thomas Lofft (
Date: Thu, 7 Jan 2016 10:22:50 -0800 (PST)
To follow up prior comments, I think the critical issue is whether a party is 
an employee, a contractor, or a volunteer.
I believe that our covenants create a voluntary engagement by all resident 
members by their acceptance of the covenants at the time of purchasing their 
Therefore, all property owners and their families are volunteer workers when 
engaging in any community functions, unless they are being paid under terms of 
an employment contract, in which case they should have their own contractor's 
insurance coverage..

As to insurance agents representations, let's look at the agent's motivation: 
Is the agent committed to providing the most cost effective coverage for the 
community as a client?
Or is the motivation to sell as much insurance and as many policies and policy 
riders as possible to another customer? 

Same goes for attorneys: Look at their motivations; follow the money.

Tom Lofft

ON Date: Tue, 5 Jan 2016 20:00:18 -0500, SYNDALLLAS Wrote:
From: Syndallas Baughman <syndallas [at]>
To: cohousing-l [at]
Subject: [C-L]_ Cohousing community work and Insurance
Hello All,
Happy New Year!  I am a member of Great Oak Cohousing in Ann Arbor.  
I have 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 am 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 
 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, 
light bulbs on two story ceilings, landscaping, lawn mowing, etc...
I have managed 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 is 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 
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,
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