Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Worker's Compensation

Access Management Group actively works to reduce the potential liability exposure of our client communities.  One increasingly concerning item is injury claims by vendors incurred while on an HOA or COA premises.  We do our best to raise Board awareness of the following:

  • The State of Georgia is ahead of other states in being pro-worker for worker’s comp claims.
  •  If a worker is injured in the community, the Association will be pursued, even if the worker falsely claimed to have appropriate insurance.  The worker is regularly awarded claims against the Association in these situations.
  • Our firm has direct experience with such claims.  One example:  A subcontractor was killed after driving a mower off a retaining wall.  The State Workers’ Comp Board looked to the Association and management to compensate the widow - when neither the subcontractor nor the contractor carried worker's compensation coverage.
  • Such awards may require a community-wide special assessment.
  • Although worker's compensation insurance is required, certain companies - typically based on the number of employees - are exempt from having to carry worker's comp coverage. 

It is our Company's practice to require that all of our vendors carry insurance coverage - including worker's comp insurance (regardless of the vendor's employee count). On occasion, Associations insist on hiring individuals without proper coverage - usually to provide menial services. Because of this, and the potential injury exposure for volunteer activities (i.e. hanging holiday decorations), Access Management Group strongly recommends that all communities carry their own Workers’ Comp policy. Initial annual premiums for such a policy typically run under $1,000.  We require all vendor insurance policies to list both the Association and Access Management Group, so that we will be notified by the insurer if the vendor cancels coverage - thus protecting both the community and our Company.  

Communities that choose to hire uninsured vendors are required to update their insurance carrier each year with the total labor costs incurred by these workers.  Failure to report, or under reporting, invalidates the coverage.  It is a constant headache to keep up with, and everyone is best served by avoiding this risky practice.  The short-term savings are outweighed by potential long-term costs of hiring uninsured labor.

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