Short term property insurance does not cover infrequent minor labor help

I hire a senior citizen about twice a year to help me with fall winter yard prep and spring property clean up. One day each season. Once in a blue moon another day maybe mid summer.
Pay him in cash, have been hiring him for years at prior properties I lived on (no short term rental, just small farms)
Someone mentioned, did I have workman’s comp? Uh…no…I don’t hire anyone, and if I hire a construction person, they have to have their own workman’s comp or be exempt, per Tn state law. It’s not the ‘homeowner’s responsibility’. Well, I’m finding out I am not technically a ‘homeowner’, but I am ‘in business’…even tho I live on the property along with my tiny cabin…and being that I had to purchase special ‘short term rental insurance’ and it does not cover anyone getting hurt on the property that YOU ARE …Have 2 ml in business and h/o liability but it specifically exempts anyone being paid…Without the tiny cabin vacation rental, I’d be a regular homeowner who would be covered for landscaping/yard help through the homeowner’s policy…
Buying a comp policy costs $700/yr and I am paying him about $300/year…maybe…so doesn’t make sense. Learned all this today from CBIZ who has my homeowners/short term rental policy and my regular carrier (for my cars and normal long term rentals)…

I do not think he’d ever come after me if he got hurt (and does NOT operate any of my machinery, like tractor or mower or chainsaw)…He weedeats fencelines and helps me gather brush into piles, or digs holes for trees…and he’s awesome and it would be hard on me to not have him those two or three times a year. BUT…any thoughts on this pickle out there??? What would YOU do??

Sometimes I think ignorance IS bliss and I wish I had never had the question brought to me!

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Ask him what insurance he is carrying

He doesn’t carry any insurance, other than I would assume, standard low income ‘tenncare’ which is basically Medicaid. He doesn’t make a lot of money, he’s a 64 year old man who does this kind of thing part time for people he knows. He works for two of my friends, as well as some others, but they are homeowners, not in business.

Then ask him or look for on his behalf what may be available to him and offer to pay a portion. He must be doing similar work for other people

Hiring anyone under the table or without insurance is your risk. I agree with the insurance company

I wasn’t hiring anyone ‘under the table’…one doesn’t hire ‘under the table’ for two days a year…he’s worked for us for years once or twice a year. It never crossed our minds, and, as regular homeowners it wasn’t an issue… But because of my current situation, with an Airbnb, everything is different…
Any kind of ‘insurance’ would be cost prohibitive, as I discussed this with the agent… plus it’s not needed if you are a ‘homeowner’ only…that’s the issue…anything currently available that would be useful is ridiculously expensive for someone who is doing this kind of work part time…
Oh well…part of the ‘new world’ I guess.

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If he works for you only 1 hour ever, and does not have insurance, and gets hurt badly, his lawyer will be sure to go after you. It is your job to make sure anyone working on your property has appropriate business coverage.

What if he is mowing and accidentally harms a child on your property. If he is not insured properly, the childs lawyer comes after you also.

Even if you are found not at fault, your legal defense bills can be very considerable.

I realize those possibilities…however, all he does is weed eat, pile brush, or plant trees
NO equipment except a weedeater… that’s CV why this is oerplexing

All you have to do is declare him as a sub-contractor, issue him a 1099 and then he is not considered an employee. He is then responsible for his own insurance. Heaven forbid he did get hurt on the job, then your home owners liability insurance should cover him. Have him sign a waiver stating he is subcontractor and is responsible for filing his tax and medical expenses.

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He’s not paid more than $200 in the calendar year so 1099 is not neccessary. $600 is the cut off. Because I have a business and am insured with short term rental policy that includes my personal residence, it’s not a traditional homeowner’s policy, so would not cover anyone I paid, even if only $5. And yes, Tennessee state law technically tells a homeowner they are not responsible for whether a worker carries comp and therefore any injuries work related…but they warned me that under that law, I am NOT considered a homeowner because of my business with the cabin. I was told that I would 'probably ’ be ok, but…in today’s world they would not recommend I go without purchasing the comp policy. Which is economically stupid. I’m repeating what the CBIZ agent went over with me …Kind of a heads up for ya’ll, as I had no idea until I read my policy and then called them for clarification…was corroborated with my regular agent when I discussed workers compensation ins…leaves one in a muddle with no secure solution…a shame…the complications caused by litigious lawyers…for a simple life like I live…always hurts the little guys…

Interesting…but then insurance companies are in the business to make money so I would seek advise elsewhere.

Elsewhere? Where would you suggest

You can read the following: You can also refer to your attorney or seek a property attorney that address your questions.

I occasionally bring in extra help with yard work and cleaning. They work with non electric tools. It’s a matter of assessing the risk against liability. Most of them are young dudes on welfare and it’s never been a problem. But now I am thinking that it could be

It’s never a problem until…it is! :wink:

I hate that we now live in a world where we have to be fearful of these sorts of things. And look what it does for either of the semi-retired or the young folks that could use the extra money for basic manual labor. I’m sure we would be okay continuing doing what we’re doing but it does form of thought in the back of your head of what may happen if somebody got slightly injured and an unscrupulous lawyer got a hold of them.


It doesn’t matter if people think they can get away with it or it is unfair or they only do it occasionally.

There is a workman’s comp system. You are trying to save money going around it with cheap labor. State law or having them sign a waiver won’t guarantee anything. You know they don’t have workmens comp when you get them cheap. They are on your property. Their lawyer will likely go after you and your insurance. You may lose a lot.

Your insurance company will NOT help you, commercial or not. I already asked several.

Yes, I understand well the laws here. However, none of what is said on this site applies here. Only if a contractor has at least 5 employees are you required to purchase workman’s comp. A $700 premium to hire someone for two days a year makes no sense to the casual property owner.

And to respond to Klatchers…I don’t hire this man because I try to ‘get them cheap’ as you put it. I pay the man an excellent wage for the work he does. The same wage as if I had hired a ‘contractor’ to do these simple tasks. Which of COURSE is the problem! NO ‘contractor’ or business is going to do the simple work I have, especially in this rural area where I am. So I have to say, I find your comment a bit abrasive to imply that I hire this man in order ‘to save money by going around the system’. It sounds like you don’t have any experience having a large property, or have ever tried to hire someone to do simple tasks. HE could not afford to carry workman’s comp because of the part time nature of what he does. AND since he works primarily for homeowners, it’s not necessary. And if he were required to buy this insurance or if a homeowner was at risk to hire him, he would NOT HAVE ANY WORK…Its that the outcome you’d like to see??? It surprises me how some people cannot understand how this system hurts the little guy trying to earn a bit of extra money, or the young person trying to finance a college education, and the property owner needing a little extra help now and then. Would you suggest that an 18 year old who wants to do lawns have to get workman’s comp?
And I’ve also stated repeatedly, regarding your scenario of him running over a child with a lawnmower, he does NOT operate ANY ‘equipment’, nothing electrical, or motor driven in any way while here…Just his weedeater. It’s manual labor, and really the only risk to him is a snakebite while cleaning the fence lines.
Sigh…just posted this to let others know what I’ve learned about my short term rental coverage and how it differs from standard homeowner’s coverage…A head’s up so to speak.


I guess my point is, there is a ‘hole’ in the system…kind of where this kind of need on both sides of the paycheck, falls through the cracks ‘legally’…Examples for us in a rural area…who would one suggest we hire to: 1.Unload a trailer load of hay into the barn (we used to hire high school kids to do this)
2. Till the garden in the spring 3. Lay mulch down on the flower beds 4. pile brush from storm damage to be burned 5. dig holes to plant 15 hemlock trees 6. unload a trailer load of lumber 7. move a piece of furniture from the barn to the house 8. weedeat fencelines and out buildings 9. help spread gravel in the barn aisle 10. trim lower branches on the larger trees so they can be mowed under.

These are all examples of the kind of work many in a rural area have to do,and often need some help doing. I had a farm liability policy before building my Airbnb and that covered ‘occasional’ labor on the farm…this policy I have not does not…hence my few founded concern, as I ‘assumed’ it did.


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It means that every time I shovel snow for my (handicapped) neighbours, mow their lawn with a push mower, or pull their weeds I could cut my finger and sue them.
Our co host could sue if she slipped on the stairs. The kid scattering mulch could … yada yada.

My partner is a general contractor. On big jobs involving 5 or more he must provide workers comp. But in 40 years he has never been sued. He’s 68 and has had cancer. Yes, We run a risk. But what are the probabilities?

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