Homeworking has become a way of life for many of us this year. With official government advice encouraging us to stay away from the office (if we can), record numbers of us have transformed our bedrooms into offices, kitchen tables into desks and living rooms into places of work. In fact, a survey by the Office for National Statistics found that nearly 50% of UK workers are now working from home, compared to just 5% last year.
With no way of predicting when Covid-19 restrictions will be eased, working from home looks likely to continue for the foreseeable future. But what does this mean for your insurance? Read on to find out how you can make sure you’re covered.
How does home working affect home insurance?
A home insurance policy usually covers items in your home such as your clothes, furniture and electrical appliances against theft and damage. However, not all policies give you the cover you need to work from home.
“Home insurance policies generally exclude working from home, unless that work is of a clerical nature,” says Phil Thorpe, Director at S-Tech Insurance Services. “If you usually work in an office on a laptop or computer and are now doing this work from home, it would be classed as ‘clerical’. However, we still recommend you contact your home insurer, just to make sure.”
“For anything more than clerical work, you do need to talk to your insurer to find out if there is anything specific you need covered. You’ll also have to contact them if you will be receiving any business visitors to your home as this can affect your cover too. Your insurer or broker will be able to advise you on any amendments to your policy if this is the case.”
In recognition of the change to our working habits, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) has made a commitment that says “if you are an office-based worker and are working from home as a result of the pandemic, your home insurance cover will not be affected.” This pledge is valid until at least 31st December 2020. Not all insurers are members of the ABI though, so it’s always best to check with your own insurance provider.
If you intend to continue working from home regularly (i.e. once a week or more) after the pandemic you must inform your insurer. If you don’t and need to make a claim, your settlement could be affected or your insurer may decline to deal with it.
Is work equipment from my employer covered under my home insurance policy?
As many workplaces are closed, you may have more office equipment in your home than usual. But what happens if your work laptop is stolen, or you spill coffee over your keyboard? Will your home insurance pay to replace it?
“If the equipment has been provided by your employer for you to work on, it should be covered by their business insurance,” says Phil. “It’s always best to ask your employer though, then you can know for certain.”
Lucy Frost, Claims Manager at S-Tech, adds, “It’s worth finding out if you have accidental damage cover, especially if there are more people than usual in the house, as more people means an increased risk of accidents.”
If your new co-worker is your favourite furry friend, be extra cautious. Lucy warns: “You have to be careful about damage by pets as that’s a common exclusion from insurance policies. It’s better to keep your pets away from your workspace if possible, just in case!”
Find out if you have accidental damage cover, especially if there are more people than usual in the house, as more people means a higher chance of accidents
Will my home insurance cover me if I’m self-employed?
If you are one of the 4.75 million self-employed people and are running a business from home, you need to make sure your insurer knows.
“A home insurance policy is primarily based around there being no work,” Phil explains. “Running a business from home comes with increased risks beyond those found in a standard home insurance policy. If your insurer is unaware of these risks they might not pay out if you need to make a claim, so it’s always best to be honest.
Lucy adds: “Many people have started new ventures during lockdown and it’s likely these are beyond what is classed as clerical work. If you’ve started a makers business from home, for example, you’ll have business tools, equipment and stock in your house, you might be carrying out some manual work or even have people visiting to pick up orders. It’s particularly important to check with your insurer in this case, as you may actually need a small business policy to cover those types of risks.”
As a self-employed business owner there are additional risks you can get specialist cover for. Find out more about public liability insurance, professional indemnity insurance and employers liability insurance or contact our business team for further information and advice.
Is there anything else I should be aware of when working from home?
There is one other thing you should think about when working from home – your car insurance. This is particularly important if you’re using your car for work related journeys, even if only very occasionally.
“Many personal car insurance policies exclude business use,” says Phil. “But, if you’re working from home and need to pick up something to be able to keep working, stationery or printing for example, and you have an accident, would your insurance regard that trip as business use? They might. In the current climate, insurers are scrutinising policy wordings and if there’s a chance to avoid a difficult claim they may well do so. It is less of an issue, but still one that we’d like to remind people to think about.
“As always, if you’re unsure please get in touch – we’re here to help. We can make sure your insurance is appropriate for your circumstances, and you’ll avoid any nasty surprises if you do ever need to make a claim.”