Q: My office allows me to work from home when I need to. Are there any insurance issues I need to worry about?
A: If you have an ongoing arrangement that allows you to work at home in any capacity, you will be considered a telecommuter. The special privilege of reduced commuting also brings some special insurance considerations in to play.
Bringing your work home with you can have some unintended consequences. The main
reason is because most homeowners policies severely restrict or exclude coverage for business property. This is further complicated by the fact that business property is usually pretty valuable. Business Property could include anything your employer provides for you to work at home including computers, printers, phone equipment, valuable paperwork, etc.
Liability issues can also arise when you are working from home. A typical homeowners policy will completely exclude business related losses.
A social guest slipping and falling is a simple, and common, claim that your homeowners policy will cover. Switch it around and make that guest a business guest and you can have liability issues for you and for your employer. Liability claims are never fun, but they are a lot less fun when your homeowners policy excludes them.
Using your personal vehicle for job-related activities, like making deliveries or client calls, can also cause some issues. Most personal auto policies exclude job-related use. Driving to and from work would not fall under job-related use.
Some examples of job-related use would be: picking up a client at the airport, running to the store to restock the office vending machine, driving to and from client appointments, etc.
Now that you have a better idea of what you should be worried about, take a minute to document what you do so your employer and your independent insurance agent can make sure you are covered properly. Make note of the following.
- What routine job duties do you perform in your home?
- Are any tasks hazardous?
- Who visits your home because of your job?
- Is a certain part of your home dedicated as a work area or office?
- What equipment is used in your job? Who owns each piece of equipment?
The answers to these questions will be a great start for you and your independent insurance agent to make sure you are adequately protected.