Workers’ Compensation Coverage During Natural Disasters

March 2019

During natural disasters, such as flooding, WSI receives an increase of questions about workers’ compensation coverage for employees injured in disaster relief while doing their jobs. The following guidelines on workers’ compensation coverage should help clarify who is covered and when coverage applies.

A key to determining if employees injured in disaster relief while doing their jobs are covered by traditional workers’ compensation coverage is whether the employee is under the direction and control of their employer. 

  • If an employer directs an employee to participate in flood relief activities, WSI will deem the employee covered, even if their work hours extend beyond the normal work shift. 
  • If an employer releases an employee, without specific direction, to help in flood relief activities, the employee is not covered by workers’ compensation.
  • If an employee is injured while protecting their own property, it is outside the scope of employment and injuries are not covered.
  • If an employer (defined as sole proprietors, partners, and corporate officers) has Elective Coverage covering themselves on their WSI workers’ compensation policy, the employer is covered if the injury is related to the protection of business property or assets.
  • Organizations such as political subdivisions, civic groups, churches, etc. with volunteers may establish a volunteer policy to provide coverage for volunteers assisting in flood relief activities. Coverage must be secured and volunteers preregistered with WSI prior to them engaging in volunteer activities. Volunteer coverage is $10.58 per volunteer, subject to a minimum premium of $250.

For additional information on workers’ compensation coverage during a natural disaster, contact WSI at 800-777-5033.