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Frequently Asked Questions On Insurance

What is a ‘volunteer association’ under the model work health and safety laws?

A ‘volunteer association’ is defined as a group of volunteers working together for one or more community purposes where none of the volunteers (jointly or alone) employs any person to carry out work for the association. Volunteer organisations range from small informal community groups to large incorporated organisations. They may be unincorporated and incorporated associations. The WHS Act makes it clear that a ‘volunteer association’ does not conduct a business or undertaking and therefore does not owe duties under the WHS Act.

The main factors in determining whether a volunteer organisation is a ‘volunteer association’ are whether the organisation:

·        conducts a business or undertaking, or

·        its volunteers employ people to work for that business or undertaking.

If not, the volunteer association is not covered by the WHS Act and will not owe duties to its volunteers under it.

How do you tell if someone is ‘employed’ by a volunteer organisation?

An employee contributes labour and expertise to the business or undertaking of an employer and is usually employed to perform specific duties. Under Australian law, an ‘employee’ is usually (although not always) someone who has a ‘contract of service’ with their employer to perform such work.

‘Contract of service’ and ‘contract for services’ are common law phrases that are used to distinguish between the nature of services provided by a worker to an employer. A person who is employed usually performs work under a contract of service. There are many other indicators of whether a person is likely to be considered an employee. These include:

  1. a.    whether there is an employment contract in place, even though a person may be paid a nominal amount in return for the work they are performing, this may still be sufficient to indicate that there is an employment contract in place
  2. b.    the level of control or right to control that the employer may exercise such as over the manner in which the work is performed, the place of work and the hours of work
  3. c.    whether the worker performs work for others (or is entitled to do so)
  4. d.    whether the worker has a separate place of work and/or advertises their services to the world at large
  5. e.    whether the worker provides and maintains significant tools or equipment
  6. f.      whether the work can be delegated or subcontracted
  7. g.    whether the putative employer has the right to suspend or dismiss the person engaged
  8. h.    whether the worker is remunerated by periodic wage or salary
  9. i.      whether the worker is provided with paid holidays or sick leave
  10. j.      whether income tax is deducted from remuneration paid to the worker
  11. k.    whether the work involves a profession, trade or distinct calling on the part if the person engaged, and
  12. l.      whether the worker creates goodwill or saleable assets in the course of his or her work.

A contract for services however, refers to a relationship where a person provides services as an independent contractor. People who work under a contract for services generally have their own business, may provide their services to more than one client at a time and usually provide their own insurance cover. If so, they will be contractors and will not ‘employed’ by the volunteer organisation under the model WHS Act.

Are Catchment Groups covered for all member groups?

Yes. The Catchment Group must be a member of QWaLC.  Certificates of Currency are issued to member Groups on completion of the annual membership and insurance survey and on the renewal of the annual policies.

Are Catchment Groups covered for non-members and visitors?

Yes. Public Liability and Accident policy are constructed to protect all volunteers attending events authorised by the member groups. It is important that a register of attendees at an event are recorded.

What are they covered for and to what financial extent?

Public Product Liability – this policy covers legal liability to pay (including legal expenses) to third parties in the event of the insured causing or being alleged to have caused injury death or loss or damage to property arising out of business operation or product.
Limit of Liability is $30 million. Within this policy there is also $250,000 for damage to property in care, custody or control of Registered Groups.

PROTECTOR/Association – this policy is a combination of Professional Indemnity, Directors and Officers Liability Insurance & Employment Practice Liability and other sections as per policy document.
Limit of Liability is $10 Million.

Personal Accident/Disability/Volunteers Worker – provides weekly lump sum benefits for accidental death or injury to voluntary workers. A schedule is provided in the attached summary.

What activities or practices are not covered?

As defined quite broadly in the polices the business of the groups is defined as ‘monitoring/planning, development, promotions, demonstrations and implementation of improved land, water, vegetation management practices including field days, bus trips, camping trips, office occupancy, meetings, lectures, seminars, displays and all other activities.’

Contact Details For Insurance Matters Are

Gary Mulvenna
P: 07 3223 7513
M: 0414 185 047

E: gary.mulvenna@aon.com

What insurance policies does QWaLC administer?

  • Personal liability insurance.
  • Public liability insurance.
  • Association liability insurance.

How much does the insurance coverage cost?

The insurance is free. The State Department of Natural Resources and Mines provides funds to provide the three insurance policies on behalf of QWaLC’s community NRM groups.

Is my group eligible for insurance?

Groups need to be members of QWaLC.  Insurance coverage may then be offered to Incorporated Groups. Unincorporated groups can discuss their needs with QWaLC.

What is a certificate of currency?

A certificate of currency is a document that shows that a member group is currently insured. The certificate of currency shows the name of the member group and the policy number. It is provided by the insurance provider.

Groups need this document for various reasons, including funding applications, when hiring venues for meetings or events. QWaLC provides these to groups who are members and respond to our annual membership and insurance survey.

Where is my group’s certificate of currency?

Once a group has completed and returned the annual membership and insurance survey form to QWaLC certificates will be issued.

Please be aware that this will be via email unless a hard copy is specifically requested.

Who is the insurance provider?

The insurance Broker is AON.

My group just became members of QWaLC. Where are our insurance certificates?

If you have not received your membership welcome email and certificates of currency within two weeks of becoming a member, please contact QWaLC.

Are members of the public (non-group members) covered if they are registered attendees at an event?

Yes, so long as they are supervised by an official member of the group at all times. If volunteers are left unsupervised (i.e. all official members leave the site), our insurance will no longer cover them.

Do properties that are hosting activities need to be owned by an official member of the group?

No, so long as a registered member of the member group is present at all times. Once again, if any volunteers (non-members) are left unsupervised, our insurance will not cover them and any claims will need to be covered by the property owner.

How much does it cost to become incorporated?

As of 1 July 2016, the cost to incorporate your group is $148.00. The Queensland Government Office of Fair Trading manages these applications. Visit the Office of Fair Trading to access more information about becoming an incorporated association and download the forms.

Who is responsible for ‘okaying’ the use of new equipment or activities in a Landcare (QWaLC Member Group) group?

All landcare (member group) group committees are responsible for the approval of landcare activities and projects and in ensuring that the necessary steps are taken in providing a safe working environment for its volunteers. This includes equipment, chemicals, first aid, induction, vehicles, contractors etc. For insurance purposes, if the committee authorises a landcare activity or equipment use then the insurance taken out by QWaLC on behalf of landcare groups may cover the activity. That means if an accident was to occur and a volunteer was injured there are 2 avenues of insurance:- 1) public liability if the injured party was to sue the landcare group or 2) volunteer accident which may provide some support in out of pocket ‘non Medicare medical expenses’.

On another level, if the accident was to be investigated by federal or state Workcover/WHS agencies and it was found that the landcare/member group did not take proper ‘due diligence’ in assessing the safety or qualifications in use of equipment than there is some ‘exposure’ relating to a fine or penalty. The Association Policy taken out by QWaLC may address this. I reason use the word ‘may’ is because it is really untested whether the insurance would cover this fine. The other consideration I think important to mention is that the WHS legislation does stipulate that if the organisation employs paid staff then there is a higher level of obligation required in the due diligence.

ABCD Landcare has the opportunity to lease a shed off the Council for no cost. We have already been using the shed for some time and store materials and equipment in it. There is no power or water, it is purely for storage. The lease agreement with Council requires that we have Public Liability Insurance.

Does QWALC insurance contracts cover this?

Yes the QWaLC Public Liability will cover any third party injury that may occur within the confines of the shed.

In relation to property insurance:

1) Within QWaLC’s Public Liability there is a property component ($100,000) which would cover any property your group might be hiring, borrowing or in the care of-  which is damaged whilst sitting in the shed.

2) QWaLC’s policy does not cover fire, floods, damage to shed…..etc. A separate policy would need to be taken here. If you need insurance here, let me know and we can put you in touch with a insurer, referred to us by AON.

(November 2016)
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