We’ve looked at how your homeowners insurance doesn’t cover household employees before. In this article, we 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.
Does home insurance cover house cleaners?
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Coverage for just about anything depends mainly on the language in your policy.
That said, your home insurance may cover damage your cleaner causes. For example, say your home cleaning service uses the wrong solution and ruins your hardwood floors. Your insurance may cover your claim if the situation fits the details in your policy.
But it may be a very different story if someone from the cleaning service gets hurt while working on your house.
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 house cleaner is someone you pay to come to your house – a domestic employee, technically – insurance companies don’t usually consider them visitors or guests and so don’t pay for their injuries.
Note: Some homeowners policies provide a limited amount of coverage for business activities, and some insurers offer additional coverage through endorsements. Read your policy carefully or talk to your agent to figure out if you have sufficient coverage for your domestic employees.
What insurance do house cleaners need?
To properly protect themselves, their employees, and their clients, house cleaners should have general liability coverage and workers compensation insurance. In some cases, these different types of coverage may be combined in a single business owner policy (BOP).
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.
For example, California homeowners are required to carry workers' comp for their household employees. In South Carolina, they aren't. And in Florida, homeowners must get workers’ compensation only if they have four or more domestic employees.
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 the appropriate coverage. In this arrangement, the cleaners are often employees of the agency, so the agency is responsible for carrying the policy.
But if you do go the agency route, be sure to ask for proof of insurance before your maid’s first day of work.
Should house cleaners be insured?
Any person hiring someone to perform work – even domestic work like cleaning a home – should make sure the businesses or individuals they employ are properly insured. In the case of house cleaners, homeowners need to check that their cleaners are properly bonded and insured.
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. Lawsuits cost time and money; workers’ comp insurance, on the other hand, is pretty affordable.
To understand why coverage is so important, 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.
Curious about the limits of your homeowners coverage? Read about what's in your homeowners insurance policy.