Living At Work: Insurance Considerations For Working From Home
Working from home is a phrase synonymous with the working patterns of 2020.
The coronavirus outbreak has driven the shift from working in a communal office to working at home; perhaps a more apt phrase would be “living at work”.
Many people have reported the increased blurring of work and home life throughout 2020 with stress levels increasing. “Living at work” also helps us to understand the requirements of individuals and employers from an insurance perspective.
Some policies may have broadly accounted for the rapid shift towards home working when the crisis called for it, but remote working looks as if it is here to stay with large organisations such as Twitter announcing indefinite home working plans.
There has been much talk of the implications of home working on personal home insurance policies, but what about business insurance? Many of the same products remain important such as Professional Indemnity and Public Liability, however organisations and individuals should be considering both the short and long term effects of working from home upon their insurance requirements.
If you are an employer it is your legal duty to provide a safe working environment for your employees, and this requirement extends to the home office if this is where they are undertaking their contracted work.
Whilst it may seem that there is a low risk of injury when working remotely, there are risks still present that employers need to account for. For example, employers should be conducting assessments of the suitability of work stations, desk heights and chairs and offering safe alternatives because there are risks of long term issues such as RSI.
Both short and long term injuries could cause employees to make claims against you in the future. Similarly, many employees are reporting higher levels of stress and perhaps increased workloads, which can lead to burnout if you are not putting measures in place to protect the mental wellbeing of staff.
As claims can be made retroactively and Employer’s Liability operates on a claims occurring basis, fulfilling your duty of care to employees now will ensure you are covered by your insurance in the future should they make a claim.
If you do not have Employers’ Liability insurance, which is actually a legal requirement as per the The Employer’s Liability Act 1969, we recommend taking out a suitable policy as it is likely claims will be made in the future against employers who have not protected their employees both from the risk of Coronavirus and long-term physical or mental injury from working from home. Protecting your employees is protecting yourself too.
Cyber insurance may not be a policy you initially considered if you are not a data driven or IT based business, however it is an important consideration when employees are working with computers. relying on their own internet connections which could be hacked or trying to use new technology they may not fully understand to continue working. The more employees you have online, the more at risk you are to cyber crime.
In May 2020, The Guardian reported “the proportion of attacks targeting home workers increased from 12% of malicious email traffic before the UK’s lockdown began in March to more than 60% six weeks later” according to data provided by cybersecurity company Darktrace.
With this in mind and permanent home working looking set to rise, employers should also look to increase or adopt Cyber Insurance cover to protect against risks such as the loss or damage of your own data, or instances where you inadvertently pass on a virus to a client’s computer. Cover can provide legal and forensic services, computer security cover and monitoring services. This is also something self-employed individuals should also look to include to protect themselves.
Legal Expenses Cover
It has been cited many times before, but we continue to operate in unprecedented times where you are likely to have many questions about your legal standing on different aspects of home working or what you are obligated to provide by law.
The internet can be useful, but is also rife with misinformation, whereas legal expenses cover can provide you with a 24 hour helpline to answer your questions so you can ensure you are fulfilling your obligations and protected should any claims arise. This is especially important as if a claim is brought against you, policies such as Employers’ Liability do not cover legal expenses incurred.
Business Contents Insurance
If you are a business owner with an office or business premises, it is likely that you will already have a contents insurance policy that covers the loss, theft or damage of business equipment for that premises.
With employees or yourself working from home, check your policy to see if it extends to your home address and if not take the necessary steps to cover the equipment, such as taking out Business Contents Insurance if you do not have one.
If you can’t do business without your laptop, smartphone or other more specialised equipment, it is clear you need this cover, particularly as typical home contents insurance policies do not cover working from home.
Whether you are a business owner finding themselves and their staff working from home or you are self-employed seeking the correct insurance to protect yourself, insurance requirements should be one of your first considerations to make sure all stakeholders are protected. Without it, you leave yourself at risk to detrimental short and long term effects.