With record numbers of workers now working from home due to the impact of COVID-19, one question to consider is whether employees should tell their home insurers that they are now working from home, and in turn, whether employers should be encouraging their workers to speak to their insurers.
The Association of British Insurers (ABI), whose members are listed here, is clear that “if you are an office-based worker and are working from home as a result of the pandemic, your home insurance cover will not be affected”. However, the ABI also confirms that if a worker will be regularly working from home for reasons unrelated to the pandemic (e.g. because their employer has reduced the number of desks available on a permanent basis), they are unlikely to be covered and should inform their home insurer.
Despite the ABI’s assurances for temporary home workers, Dean Dunham reported on his LBC show ‘The Consumer Hour’, that he has heard from a number of consumers in the past few weeks who have had home insurance claims rejected – including one for fire damage - after the insurer found out that the worker was working from home, rendering the policy invalid under its terms and conditions.
It isn’t clear whether these insurers are members of the ABI, or if the workers were working from home for reasons unrelated to the pandemic, but in any event Dunham is advising all workers to check the terms and conditions of their home insurance, tell their insurer in writing that they are working from home, and ask the insurer to confirm, again in writing, that this will not affect the policy.
Where workers will be working from home regularly for reasons other than the pandemic, for example because the employer has reduced floor space, employers should encourage those employees to contact their home insurers. Employers may also wish to make employees aware of the risk even in relation to temporary home working. If the insurer demands an additional premium to cover the working from home risk, workers may look to have this reimbursed by their employer, so it would be worth making it clear that any increase in premiums is entirely the responsibility of the individual worker.
If you have any questions about your workforce and the impact of working from home, please contact the team.