When Are Volunteers Covered By Workers’ Compensation?


Volunteers are essential to the success of many organizations. Without them, there would be a heavier workload placed on everyone else. Although they are essential and welcomed, they typically don’t have the same type of benefits that actual employees of the organization have. The following explains a little about workers’ compensation and how it relates to volunteers.

Employees Only

Workers’ compensation is a benefit given to paid employees only. Others who show up to provide additional assistance as volunteers are not entitled to the same compensation. Employees are typically defined as individuals whose hours and salary are controlled by the employer, whose materials are provided by the employer and whose job security depends on the employer. Volunteers generally don’t meet all of the requirements.

Voluntary Compensation Endorsement

If an employer adds a voluntary compensation endorsement to an already existing workers’ compensation policy, volunteers still do not have coverage. This endorsement is for employees who might work overseas, farm workers, partners and other similar positions within a company. If a company you’re planning to volunteer for confuses “voluntary” with actual volunteering, they could be surprised when a volunteer is injured and has no coverage.

Coverage for Volunteers

Most policies vary by state and insurance provider. As an employer who regularly has volunteers complete tasks, it is your duty to speak with your insurance provider about coverage your volunteers could benefit from. There may be additional coverage you can include in your insurance plan to make sure everyone who helps in your success is compensated at least to some extent.

General liability may be something that can work for the benefit of volunteers. Typically, when a volunteer is injured while doing work for an employer with general liability insurance, that policy would treat the injured individual as an insured. It’s still important you speak with the insurance provider to truly understand what this means for your company, the volunteer and any third parties.

Help for Medical Bills

If a volunteer has no insurance coverage from an employer for which he or she is performing service, there are some other options for receiving help with medical bills. If the individual carries private health insurance, that could be an option. If the person was injured in a car accident while doing service, he or she may rely on auto insurance, either personal or that of the other driver.

Contacting a Lawyer for Assistance

When volunteers are injured, there should be some options for compensation. If you were hurt while volunteering for an organization, contact a workers’ compensation lawyer, like a Workers Compensation Attorney Brooklyn offers, for assistance in determining how to get compensation.


Thank you to the experts at Polsky, Shouldice, & Rosen, P.C., for their input into worker’s compensation and the law.