Workers Compensation Insurance for Owner Builders

Do owner builders require Workers Compensation Insurance? In essence – NO!

This question is often raised by building surveyors, engineers, and aggressive sales and commission focused insurance sales agents.

The purpose of workers compensation is to ensure employers make provision for potential injury claims (liabilities) by employees who are injured at a workplace. Workers compensation does not cover or insure independent sub-contractors, tradespeople, self-employed and sole traders.

In nearly all projects, owner builders engage various sub-contractors to complete the 58 stages of the domestic building process. Owner builders also are more likely to engage sub-contractors for their technical skills, qualifications and expertise.

Sub-contractors are engage on a ‘once off’, project specific contract basis, and under either a ‘major building contract’ or ‘minor building contract’.

Workers Compensation insurance does not in any way reduce or minimise risks of being issued a writ or legal proceeding or receiving a letter of demand, resulting from sub-contractor or trades persons injury or actions – after all owner builders are the building site owner.

Insurances we select are purposely designed to safeguard owner builders against sub-contractor claims, including injury.

However should you be recruiting employees for your project and require workers compensation insurance to comply with your employers and corporate requirements, we can assist

An owner builders may require workers compensation insurance when:

  1. Employing  (as employees) trades people  or staff to complete the building project;
  2. Engaging sub-contractors as labour only resources, and the owner builder will undertake direct control, leading and managing these resources (people) during the building project – you deemed an employer in this situation;
  3. Not hiring or contracting trades people for their trade or building skill, but simply for their labour – you are deemed an employer;
  4. Your intention is to engage sub-contractors and trades, on an ongoing basis (repeat and ongoing work) beyond a specific owner building project.

If an owner builder is unsure if they are employing deemed workers or contractors they should consider applying for a Private Ruling through the appropriate statutory authority.

More information or seeking private rulings


Victoria –

Queensland –

West Australia –

Tasmania –

South Australia –