Must You Provide Insurance For Your Nanny or Housekeeper?

I have a friend who is a single mother of two young children, two puppies, a turtle, a cat, and a frog aside from running her own business. Trying to manage her career, the social life of the boys and the health and well being of their pets was wearing her out so she employed the services of a Nanny. Everything was going well until the Nanny tripped over one of the dogs and injured her knee resulting in arthroscopic surgery and months of visits to a physical therapist. What a shock when my friend found out that as the Nanny’s employer she was responsible for the medical bills. Are you aware that full time employees(those on your premises 40 or more hours a week) must be provided with Workers’ Compensation and, in some cases, New York State Disability?


My friend never gave this a thought prior to the accident. She just figured that her homeowner’s policy would cover the medical bills because the accident happened in her home. However, the Workers’ Compensation rider of a homeowner’s policy doesn’t cover any domestic employees (defined, but not limited to, Maids, Cooks, Housekeepers, Laudresses, Butlers, Companions, Gardeners, Chauffeurs, Nannies, Home Health Aides, Au Pairs, Nurses, Baby/Pet-sitters) nor does it cover people working for individual(s) in a home-based business. And on top of all this, the government can impose significant monetary penalties for not having this mandated coverage in place should an accident occur.

Another friend of mine always employs PetSitters to watch her menagerie of pets when she goes away on frequent vacations. She recently was advised that if the PetSitter stays in her home continuously from Friday evening until Sunday evening, a period of roughly 48 hours, that both Workers’ Compensation and New York State Disability would be required.

I checked the New York State Fund website and it actually states that “Workers’ Compensation and New York State Disability are required from the first day of the first week in which a domestic puts in 40 or more hours while either working or living on the premises.” There is an exception for Disability in that benefits aren’t required if the domestic (s) works in a private household less than 40 hours a week and doesn’t live on the premises.

So, let’s not be “penny wise and pound foolish” and let’s “be prepared” because we never know when a maid could trip over her apron strings, the butler could close the door too quickly causing injuries to himself and the chauffeur could collide with a SmartCar filled with clowns!

- Karen Skoler, CPCU

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