Remote working: Are you covered by your home insurance?
Large-scale working from home has been a long time coming, but no one expected it to happen quite so quickly. Thanks to COVID-19 and the ensuing lockdown, hundreds of thousands of South Africans have found themselves operating from a home office.
When it comes to your home insurance, whether it’s home contents or buildings insurance, this situation can either change your entire policy or nothing at all.
Let’s take a look at how working from home affects your cover.
If you’re an employee
It can make a difference to your home insurance if you’re employed by someone else or if you own your own business.
If you’re an employee using the company’s equipment, your employer is responsible for the cover. Because home insurance is classified under personal insurance, it’s separate from business cover. That means items you’re using which are company property, such as a laptop or Mac, can’t be insured under your home contents policy. If you’re unsure whether the company property in your car is insured, check with your employer. After all, you don’t want to be held liable should these items get damaged or stolen.
If you’re an employee and you’re using your own equipment, you might not need to do anything. Most home insurance companies allow for personal-use laptops to occasionally be used for work. If this is the case with your policy, you will likely be covered.
If you’re a business owner
If you’re a business owner, you might want to think about updating your insurance policy, especially if you worked from an office off-site from your home previously. Because you’re making a living with your equipment, like your laptop, your items should be insured for business use, not personal use. Making sure you are covered correctly could be as simple as calling your insurer and letting them know your business address has temporarily changed (to your home address). However, also consider that you might now be using items for work that aren’t insured for business use, like your printer, scanner, copier, phone, monitor, or headset. These items should be added to your business insurance policy.
Nowadays, companies large and small need to have cybersecurity to protect their staff and valuable data from online threats. Many companies have a cybersecurity system for the office network. However, with people working from home, businesses are more open to cybercrime as they no longer have such stringent control over their employees’ online behaviour.
The World Health Organization says since the COVID-19 pandemic started, cyberattacks on its organisation, its employees, and the public have increased fivefold. Opportunistic criminals will stop at nothing to make money during this time, so companies should be extra cautious. That’s why it’s a good idea to take out cyber insurance. This will cover you if your business and its employees fall victim to cyber theft and phishing, and cyberliability should an attack on your company result in damage to a third-party.
If you’re an employee working from home, the risk of cybercrime automatically goes up as you are using your own home network much more. Consider taking out a Cyber Insurance policy to protect yourself and your family from cyberthreats.
Most home insurance policies offer third-party liability cover in case someone who isn’t a household member is injured or passes away on your property. However, if you’re having a business meeting at your home, the issue gets a little tricky. Unfortunately, because your colleagues are there for business purposes and not personal reasons if something happens to them or their property, your third-party liability home insurance might not cover you. Even though social distancing rules still apply, business meetings are allowed. If it’s unavoidable for you to have one at your house, your best bet is to check with your insurer to find out what they will and won’t cover. And remember to maintain social distancing, wear a mask at all times, and wash your hands.
Should you tell your home insurer?
If you’re now working from home, you’re probably wondering if you should tell your insurer about your change in circumstances so they can update your policy if necessary. The answer is: it depends. But we recommend calling your insurer to check no matter what – you can’t be too certain. If nothing has really changed other than where you work (same laptop, no in-person meetings, etc.), you probably don’t need to update your insurer. If you’re using your own equipment, find out if you need temporary business-use cover. If you have business merchandise at home, you should liaise with your employer and your insurer to find out who is responsible for the cover should something happen to the stock.
Preventing a home insurance claim
Aside from making sure you and your home contents are covered during these strange times, the best way to avoid all the hassle of filing a claim is to prevent one in the first place. Here are a few tips to keep your work equipment – and yourself – safe:
Lock your doors. Just because you’re at home doesn’t mean criminals won’t take a chance. Keep your doors locked at all times and remain vigilant with your home security.
Treat equipment with care. It can be easy to become too relaxed when working from home, so be careful not to spill your morning coffee on your laptop.
Keep the kids away. Many people working from home have their little ones with them too. It’s best to keep all equipment out of the reach of little hands and running feet.
Be cyber aware. As always, don’t open any emails from senders you aren’t familiar with and don’t click any suspicious links. If you do receive a questionable email, alert your company’s IT department immediately.
Ultimately, if you’re in any doubt about your home insurance cover, get in touch with your insurer. If you’re covered with us, you can request a call-back. It will cost you nothing but a few minutes of your time to make sure you have the cover you need.
Sources: The World Health Organization
Information in this article is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as financial, legal, or medical advice.