Volunteering for an open source software project

I’m thinking of making some changes to some free computer software.
It is technically “volunteering” but it doesn’t have a lot of the characteristics of traditional volunteering.
I have seen it called “contributing” to open source software instead of volnteering.
Actually that term seems to be more common.
The first problem is trying to explain what free software is to the insurance company.


There is no deadline.
There is no schedule.
It can be done at home whenever.
It can be done in small pieces.
There is no obligation to do anything.
It is free.

I want to get permission from the insurance company but I suspect they’ll say no out of hand (because they don’t know what it is).

Should I just do it and then defend it later if it becomes a problem?

I would think the insurer would like the fact that you are volunteering as you’d be getting some skills that may facilitate going back to work even though in your case the way you describe open source volunteering it wouldn’t have the same stressors as a typical workplace environment.

It’s tricky because you want to do something to feel productive but the insurer may use it against you.

I really don’t know … just speculating.

There is 0 chance I’ll recover so the likelihood the insurer would cut me off is slim.
At least they shouldn’t but insurance companies seem unpredictable.

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I would not think it’s volunteering, you putter around making something then give it away for free the same as if you knitted a sweater or cooked a meal and gave it away. But I would double check if my LTD insurance policy has a definition of volunteer.

Mine benefit booklet doesn’t but I wonder if it usual for policies to have such a definition.
@David_Brannen, does the law define “volunteer”?

My general rule is 100% transparency and openness. I like people to get out in front of anything that could be used to paint you in a negative light (from the insurers perspective).

I haven’t seen people get in trouble for being open with insurance companies, especially with very limited volunteer work like you are describing. The problems happen when they “find out” you are doing things that appear to be like work and you didn’t tell them. Then they start thinking the worst as it triggers alarm bells for them. In my experience the insurance company claim managers will appreciate your openness on things like this.

Thanks.
I hope I’ll be able to explain what it involves to the insurance company.

Might be helpful to explain it’s like Wikipedia for free software, where anybody can write or add to an encyclopedia article for free.

Thanks, good idea Caro.

Do you think I should ask for approval in writing?
What if they don’t respond in writing?
I think I read about a Rogers/Bell rep. promising something and it went to court and Rogers/Bell successfully? argued that the rep. was not authorized to make the promise.