As a massive number of American workers mobilize to work from home in response to the coronavirus pandemic, a multitude of logistical concerns arise for companies and their employees alike. For companies, one of the main challenges is to ensure there is a system in place to transition to a remote workforce. For employees, one of the main challenges is ensuring they have the equipment they need to stay connected, not to mention getting used to the fact that their dining room tables are now their desks.
With so many elements of the transition to coordinate and keep track of, it stands to reason that some logistics might not immediately come to mind. For instance, did you know that working from home may have some implications for your homeowner's insurance policy? Below, Mike Gulla - Director of Underwriting at Hippo Insurance - shares some great tips to help you better understand your insurance policy while you're working from home.
1. First, create a list of questions to ask your HR team. Before you set up your new work-from-home space, or even if you've already left the office to go remote, circle back with your HR team to understand how you’re covered if you experience a work-related issue at home. Start with these questions:
- May I take my work equipment with me? If so, what is covered in case of an accident?
- What happens if I get injured during my time working from home?
- Am I covered through my work?
- If so, how do I file a claim?
2. Start to separate business equipment from your personal electronics. Typically, headsets, desktops, and screens that are owned by your company would not fall under your homeowners' insurance - even if you’re working remotely. However, if you’re doing work on a personal computer for business use and have a theft or loss, there may be limits on personal property coverage.
3. Enroll in a comprehensive homeowner's insurance plan. Most Americans are required to purchase home insurance with their mortgage but the home office coverage limit may not cover the range of equipment you’re bringing home from your employer. If you’re going remote, understand what items your company owns and what is personal use being used for business. Do an inventory of personal items like laptops, monitors, printers, and voice headsets to make sure your coverage limit lines up with what your stuff is worth. We’ve found that video logs work great for this.
4. Or, do a thorough review of your existing homeowner's policy. Going remote, the occupancy of your home may have just shifted drastically from 30% of your time to 100%. And, during the day you're up and moving around compared to at night when you’re usually asleep, this increase in time could impact the probability of a claim in your home, especially if you’ve got kids home from school.
5. Request an increase in your personal home office limit (if you need it). The average homeowner's policy in the U.S. has a $2000 limit for home office equipment. As more people have office setups at home, Hippo’s home office limit starts at $8000 and homeowners can request higher limits if necessary.
- Storage of business inventory could increase your personal limits. If you’re unable to make it into the office and must begin storing your company’s products or materials at your home, then speak to your company first or call your homeowner's insurance company to make sure you’re covered before you take on the responsibility of business inventory.
- Increases in foot traffic could increase your personal limits. If you’re going to be remote for an extended period of time and are thinking about bringing clients to your home then you’re assuming the liability of those guests as they come onto your property. Check with your insurance company to make sure you’re covered appropriately. [Editor's note: this would not apply for those who are practicing social-distancing during the coronavirus pandemic]
Remember, if remote working turns into a permanent thing, home-based businesses do usually require more coverage than standard personal limits. If you decide to stay remote then check with your homeowner's insurance company on what coverage limits they offer and ask for endorsements.
6. Remember, adapting to a new work environment takes time. If you’re already thinking about your insurance coverages then you’re ahead of the game. But, ensure that you’ve set up your new working environment in a safe way. Think through the different scenarios that could lead to physical harm or injury like loose electrical cords or leaving the stove on when you have the ability to cook lunch instead of buying it. New environments take some time to get used to.
7. Finally, know your home’s limits. Energy costs may go up when your family members are home during a time of day when your home is usually at its lowest points of energy consumption. Try offsetting the drawing of power and energy throughout the entire day with some energy saving devices and LED lights.
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