HOMEOWNER POLICY DOES NOT COVER EMPLOYEES OF AN UNINHABITABLE DWELLING
Labor Code Sections 3351(d) and 3352(h) provide that an individual qualifies as a "residential employee" who is covered under the homeowners policy as long as the employee earned at least $100 and worked at least 52 hours in the last 90 calendar days, and whose duties at a "residential dwelling" are "incidental to the ownership, maintenance, or use of the dwelling". In
UEBTF v. WCAB (Jose Jaramillo)(2019 Cal. Wrk. Comp. LEXIS 12), Jose Jaramillo was removing debris from the rooftop after a house fire, when he was struck in the head and killed by a crane bucket.
The first issue pertained to employment, as there was conflicting evidence as to whether Jaramillo was working as an unpaid family friend or had been regularly employed for cash by the property owners. The Trial Judge determined that Jaramillo was an employee of the property owners based upon the rebuttable presumption of employment and as supported by testimony from the Jaramillo family.
The second issue pertained to who had liability for providing the benefits. There was no dispute that the home was "uninhabitable" due to the fire, and therefore could not have served as a residence or dwelling on the date of injury, which means the portion of the homeowner policy which only covers employees of a residence did not apply per Labor Code Section 3351(d). Instead, the property owners were still responsible, but since they were not insured for non-residential employees, the UEBTF was the proper party to provide benefits with right of reimbursement against the property owners.
[Comment: Case re-emphasizes that work comp coverage in a homeowners policy is statutorily limited to covering only those workers who meet the $100/52 hour requirement while performing services at an inhabitable residential building.]