For many of us, “temporary” working arrangements triggered by the pandemic have morphed into a permanent commute in our slippers. Stats Canada reports that 30% of the workforce works from home (WFH). This number is higher for many, with 45% of dual-income households (in the top 10% of the earnings distribution) avoiding rush hour traffic. In the financial, professional, scientific, and technical services sectors, the number grows to a whopping 70%.
Even when the dust of the pandemic settles, a significant portion of the workforce will persist in this manner. Whether we continue to work from home by choice or necessity, WFH is a daily reality for many Canadians. If you’re among them, your home has become your workspace. As such, you’re wondering what the insurance implications may be. What is covered by your home insurance? What about your employer’s insurance? Cyber risks? Liability? Find the answers to these questions and more below.
Your One-Stop Resource Guide to Insurance and Liability Risk When Working from Home in 2021-22 and Beyond
Are You Now a Contractor?
As remote work has become full-time for many positions, some companies are transitioning staff from traditional employment terms and moving them into contractor roles. This change in dynamic can have a direct impact on your coverage and liability. Insurers may now consider you to be a home-based business owner. If so, the onus for potential damage, injury, theft, and other insurable concerns falls on you unless otherwise stipulated by your client – your former “employer”.
As a newly minted independent contractor/consultant you require additional insurance, because many concerns are not covered by your homeowners policy. On the surface you may be concerned about the added cost, but remember that coverage will not only protect you against claims, it can actually help you secure more business. How? Read our guide to independent contractor insurance for clarity on all of the above.
Click here to inquire about dedicated insurance as a contractor.
How is Your Home Being Used?
One of the key concerns when you are using your home to conduct business is liability. So, it is important to ask yourself, “Will clients be visiting my home? Or, do I receive business related deliveries?”
Home insurance is designed to provide protection for normal activities that occur in a home (not a business). For example, if a plumber visits your home to fix a leaky faucet and is injured when he trips over one of your cats – your home insurance will typically cover the costs related to his accident. However, if the injured party is a client or delivery person visiting your home on a business matter, you will likely not be able to receive coverage through your home insurance. That is why it is very important that you discuss your unique situation with your broker to see if additional coverage is required.
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Who Owns That Laptop?
Is the laptop that you use for work owned an insured by your employer? Or are you using your own personal equipment and supplies to conduct business? Simply put, most home insurance policies have limitations on property that is used in whole or in part for work. So, call your broker before Oscar, Felix or Molly knocks that chai latte all over your new laptop.
Cyber Security is Now a “You” Problem Too
In the past it was up to your employer to mitigate the risk of cybercrime as it pertained to workloads, organizational data, and company-provided devices. But now that your home is your office, cybercrime has become your problem too. The company’s and your own vulnerability has gone up. And it’s not like you can call over the IT guy/gal should a dangerous pop up occur after you clicked a seemingly harmless 50% off coupon for Nordstrom Rack.
It’s prudent for your employer to supply you with company issued computers that your IT department continuously monitors and updates with the latest antivirus software. As discussed above, in such a case they will typically insure it all for you. However, if connected to your home’s other electronics and WiFi, liability concerns become more complicated. For instance, if you use Smart tech throughout your home, a hack of your company-provided computer could compromise the entire household, or vice versa.
Has your employer developed a stringent policy about cybercrime prevention for WFH staff? Have they provided adequate training? If uncertain and unclear about whether or not you’re responsible for and/or secured against attacks, we encourage you to share our guide to protecting remote employees and company assets from cybercrime, with your employer. With over half-a-million new malware strains being created every day, there could not be a more critical call to action for the WFH professional.
Learn more about protecting yourself with comprehensive cyber insurance.
What You Need to Do Today
While there are many liberating benefits to working from home, it certainly comes with some confusion. Far too many companies have not clearly defined adapted roles and terms. If unsure, you need to have a conversation with HR and/or management. That said, don’t wait around for them to finalize documentation, ensure that you have adequate protection today.
What is and isn’t covered by your homeowners insurance policy (and other) is ultimately determined by the particular underwriter that provides you with coverage. Each one is different. For peace of mind, contact Park Insurance today to receive a comprehensive assessment that considers your current employment status.