Millions of people who work from home may soon have invalid insurance policies as cover for items such as laptops and phones may only be for domestic use. Despite politicians encouraging people to return to office life, many prefer avoiding packed commuter trains and trams, expensive coffee shops, traffic jams every Friday and the other delights of commuting to UK towns and cities.
But is your working from home nirvana fully insured?
As government advice changes post-lockdown, and as home working pledges made by the Association of British Insurers (ABI) are reviewed and updated on September 1st, there are likely to be disputes pitting the self-employed and homeworkers against the insurance industry, says Jimmy Williams of Urban Jungle, who advises those working from home to make sure their home and contents policies cover them while they are working from home.
“Some insurers aren’t being very flexible and are insisting that domestic policies don’t cover incidents if people are working from home or if they are running a business. So, if you spill tea on your laptop while writing a work email, they might say: ‘you’re not covered’.
“When lockdown was in place, it would have been harder for insurers to draw a distinction between the office and home. But now, government guidance is different, it is easier for them to do so.
“We don’t think this is right as so many people are now working from home, either because going to the office doesn’t feel safe or because they are freelancing.”
Home working became the norm this year, with figures from the Office for National Statistics showing nearly half of the UK’s 32 million strong workforce worked from home during lockdown.
“There’s been a working from home revolution, and we all have to adapt to these new circumstances – that includes the insurance industry,” says Williams.
“We urge all Brits working from home to find out now if their policies are valid and contact their insurer if their circumstances have changed recently. Many won’t know about the ABI’s pledges changing on September 1st and how it may affect them, so it’s worth dropping your insurer a line.
“Having something in black and white is always a good thing. However, there are a lot of grey areas right now.”
Urban Jungle has created a simple flow chart for those working from home, to help people navigate their next steps. Williams also says, for some people, additional cover may be required.
“If you are doing clerical work, mostly working on a computer, then your home insurance usually covers that. But if you run a business out of your home that is public-facing then that’s probably different. Also, online sellers won’t be able to claim for stock which is damaged, lost or stolen.”
Urban Jungle’s Post-lockdown guide to working from home provides an insurer’s views of work during lockdown, describing the kinds of accidents people have had, as well as top tips for keeping your home working equipment safe.