We’ve looked at how your homeowners insurance doesn’t cover household employees before. Here, we’ll go into a little more detail about what you need to know about insurance when you hire a maid or house-cleaning service.
The short version: you may have insurance needs beyond your basic homeowners policy.
Insurance for Cleaners in Your Home
The main insurance issue regarding maids and house-cleaning services has to do with what happens if they get hurt on the job. If a guest at your home got hurt and required medical treatment, the personal liability or medical expenses portion of your homeowners insurance would likely cover the bills.
But because a maid or housecleaner is someone you pay to come to your house – a domestic employee, technically – insurance companies don’t consider them visitors or guests and so don’t pay for their injuries.
Like all workers, injured maids and house cleaners can tap into workers’ compensation benefits to cover the medical bills associated with illnesses and injuries they sustain on the job. So when a maid gets hurt while cleaning your home, workers’ compensation insurance should pay the cost of their medical bills and (if the injury prevents them from working) lost salary.
Who Pays for House Cleaners’ Workers Compensation Insurance?
The answer depends on a few factors:
- Where you live
- How many hours per month maid works in your home
- How you hire your maid or house-cleaning service
The first two are actually related: workers’ comp laws exist at the state level, which means that they’re different throughout the country. Many states have special requirements for domestic employees, who often work only a few hours per month at any given employer.
In Virginia, for example, homeowners are not required to carry workers’ comp for their household employees. In California, they are. And in Illinois, they’re required only if their domestic employees work 40 hours per week or more (combined).
If you don’t feel like learning the ins and outs of workers’ comp insurance, you can choose to hire your maid or house cleaning service through an agency that provides workers’ compensation insurance. In this arrangement, the cleaners would be employees of the agency, so the agency would be the body responsible for carrying the workers’ comp policy.
One important note, though: if you do go the agency route, be sure to ask for proof of insurance before your maid’s first day of work.
What Happens if Your Maid or House Cleaning Service Isn’t Insured?
One reason we recommend asking for proof of insurance is the potential cost to you if an uninsured house cleaner gets hurt while working in your home. To understand this cost, it’s helpful to have a little background on workers’ comp. This coverage was developed as a “grand bargain” between employers and employees to incentivize safer workplaces and to prevent employees from suing their bosses if they got hurt.
With workers’ comp in place, any employee who gets hurt on the job has a reliable source of funds to pay for their medical bills and lost wages related to the injury, but gives up the right to sue over workplace injuries (in most cases). Employers are able to pay the relatively small cost of insurance premiums and avoid the potentially huge cost of an injured employee suing them for not providing a safer workplace.
In your home, an injured maid or house cleaner who doesn’t have access to the benefits from a workers’ comp policy could sue you to cover the cost of their medical bills. Regardless of whether you win that lawsuit or not, it would cost you time and money. Workers’ comp insurance, on the other hand, is pretty affordable.
Curious about the limits of your homeowners coverage? Read about what a homeowners insurance policy covers.