According to a recent survey of some 250 homeworkers carried out by a leading UK home contents insurance company, it was discovered that 16% employ one or more staff, yet a figure of just 3% have ‘employer’s liability insurance’ to cover their best interests and their own.
Elsewhere just 14% admitted to having arranged business car insurance, despite 66% using their vehicles for business reasons. Both of these stats, while eyebrow-raising, also suggest that a large percentage of Britain’s home-working populace are operating illegally, and that an equally significant number are neglecting to tell their home contents provider that they are working remotely per se. This failure could easily result in their domestic home contents policies being rendered invalid.[one-half]
More and more of us are choosing to work remotely from our own homes as certain industries and employers become more willing to accept this working arrangement than they had previously.
Where once bosses believed that being out of sight meant they’d be out of mind in the eyes and conscience of their employees – therein immediately ruling out this option on the perceived grounds of not[/one-half] [one-half-last] [box color=”grey”]
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being able to trust staff to motivate and discipline themselves without the constant presence of their managers – perceptions of home-working have changed dramatically in recent times, paving the way for increased numbers of employees to be offered this opportunity to prove critics wrong.
On top of this groundswell of opinion in more traditional employment circles, there are of course thousands of non-office based professionals who enjoy the relative freedom and versatility to avoid the dreaded water cooler moments and monotonous office gossip.
Swapping the often stressful environs of an office for remote-working utopia might seem the perfect peaceful solution to office politics and the hustle and bustle of a habitually horrendous commute to a designated workplace, but home-working isn’t necessarily an oasis of calm.
For a start you have to be as efficient and productive as you would be if you were sat in a large glass box surrounded by chatter and constantly ringing phones, plus you have to ensure that all your equipment is both safe and secure. As there’s every chance that it’s not yours and you’re simply caretaking it whilst you are afforded the luxury of sitting in a converted box room supplying your employer with the same standard of workmanship they’ve grown accustomed to.
So therefore the responsibility buck stops with you when it comes to protecting all your expensive kit and caboodle and safeguarding it against any potential damage, loss or theft sustained. But even if the equipment is funded by the bank of you in your guise as a freelancer/self-employed bod, then you’ll almost certainly want to protect your work assets, come what may.
This obviously means arranging your home contents insurance policy so as to accommodate these extra-curricular needs and finding out just what you’re letting yourself in for. There’ll doubtless be a host of questions you will need answering, and the sooner the better, ranging from the more obvious; What will a remote-working home contents cover include?, How much will the premiums cost? and Will there be a no claims bonus?
You’ll also want to know things like; Does the insurance provider offer a 24-hour legal and emergency advice line? and What is the level of excess to be retained by my business?
However before you even begin to think along those sort of lines you need to ask yourself this; Just what types of home contents insurance policies exist for remote-workers? Well to save you the hassle of looking, we can confirm here and now that there are two predominant types, namely an indemnity policy (which is the most cost-effective) and a new for old policy (which is a little pricier).[one-half]
You’ll probably be no stranger to both policy types already, as they form part and parcel of any traditional home contents policy. The former taking on board any wear and tear suffered by the item/product/piece of equipment, while the latter is geared up towards the insurer paying out the full amount for any item lost, damaged or stolen.
What you need to determine thereafter is which add-on[/one-half] [one-half-last] [box color=”grey”]
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policy features are important to you, as well as bearing in mind that conventional home contents insurance policies rarely stretch to cover the policyholder for home-working circumstances. That’s to say domestic coverage tends to run to what’s described by insurers as ‘administrations duties’ only, and anything thereafter isn’t necessarily part of the policy remit.
Therefore it’s well worth looking at additional features you can bolt-on to an existing plan, such as an ‘all-risks’ policy in terms of business equipment, which offers a protective wing around loss and/or damage sustained in the home environment and equally importantly, while out and about.
For example the advent of more portable work tech, such as laptops and tablets has seen a rise in people using them for work purposes while on the move. What’s more, the nature of your business/remote-working employee role could well see visitors be welcomed into your home on business duties, which would make it prudent to add public liability insurance for further peace of mind. As a by-product, this type of add-on typically comprises of terms and conditions which extend to cover legal fees and expenses at the same time.
Although some home content insurers will quite happily (and readily) protect up to £5,000 of home office hardware automatically, specialist items may well fall outside of this provision, and in some cases the likes of expensive audio visual equipment, photocopiers and other state-of-the-art commercial office-spec devices are excluded from general cover.
As we mentioned earlier, computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones require a dedicated ‘all-risks’ home contents insurance sub-categorisation inclusion, so by the same token it would make financial sense to include any other equipment and machinery which you regularly depend on to complete your job within this same extra feature. In terms of how much cover you should request with your insurance provider, the bottom-line is how it would be in relation to the more homely fixtures and fittings found under your domestic roof, including TVs, clothing, furniture, et al; applying the same logistical approach by drawing up an itemised list of everything which is crucial to your job of work at home.
Also it’s vitally important to maintain receipts for home office goods purchased and remember to be honest with your home insurer at all times when confirming values. Don’t forget the golden rule that states if you under-insure content, you’ll fall short when it comes to fiscally benefiting from any compensation due, whilst conversely, over-insure and you risk pouring your money down the drain by paying out on an over-inflated premium.
There’s also the question of employer’s liability insurance, which you may or may not be legally obliged to have, although that’s usually more from an employer perspective rather than employee, but again, you need to determine this when you speak with your home contents insurance provider.
In terms of any other insurance needed to work from home, travel insurance may need to be addressed at some point – especially if your role expects you to travel abroad as and when required. And again, motor insurance shouldn’t be overlooked either, as you’ll need to upgrade your existing policy to ‘business use’ if the vehicle is used in conjunction with your job.
In most cases the extra cover required to safeguard office equipment is said to be in the region of £1,000, which equates to an additional £15 tagged on to your annual premium – which is hardly going to break the bank, and can routinely cover all manner of equipment which is essential to you undertaking you home-working role.
Despite alluding to the more obvious computer-based roles, there are of course a raft of businesses which you could be running from home as a small business owner in your own right, from sports masseur to manufacturer of children’s toys – to name just two off the top of our head!
Finally, if you work from home – or plan to in the foreseeable future – be sure to check the small print on your current home contents insurance package. Ultimately if the business is small and mainly office-based, then your existing policy being extended to envelop the additional concerns and valuable hardware is the best route to venture down, however you could find yourself in trouble if you fail to inform your provider that there’s been a change of plan and potentially find yourself contravening your present agreement by inadvertently assuming the insurance industry mantle of being a ‘material fact’; thus altering the level of pre-defined risk which an insurer offered a home contents policy from the outset.