The Coronavirus pandemic has forced many U.S. workers to work remotely from their homes. In fact, a poll by Gallup conducted March 30-April 2 found that “Sixty-two percent of employed Americans currently say they have worked from home during the crisis, a number that has doubled since mid-March.” (1)
With the sudden nature with which social distancing and quarantine guidelines were released, people didn’t have the chance to consider the insurance implications of their new tele-working environment. Your home office is now your work headquarters, and your laptop, printer, web cam, keyboard, and mouse are essential to you showing up for work everyday, even if you’re working in your living room in your pajamas.
You have homeowners insurance, but does your homeowners insurance provide coverage for your office equipment, now that it’s being used as your way of generating income and not just for home emails, social media and your children’s school projects.
Does working from home affect my homeowners’ insurance?
It can. Homeowners insurance is not the same as business insurance and your risks as a homeowner are much different than your risks as an employee. Home insurance protects your personal property while using it for personal use. Any loss of these items would be covered by your homeowners insurance for replacement cost without a limit, (subject to your deductible). The minute you use your personal property “for business use,” there are limits as to how much your home insurance will pay to replace that property. Most home insurance policies offer some protection for business property but there are limits. Your homeowners’ insurance covers up to $2,500 for “business personal property” if it’s damaged or lost, while it’s on the “residence premises” (in your home).
Is the coverage provided by my homeowners insurance enough to protect my home office equipment?
Consider the office equipment that you use everyday for work:
- Cell phone
- Extra Screen
- iPad or Tablet
If the unexpected happened, a house fire or a burglary, would $2,500 cover the cost to replace all of these items? If not, an endorsement is necessary to increase the coverage provided by your ISO HO (homeowners’ policy).
What happens if I use my laptop for work away from home?
The coverage for your “business” personal property when you are using it away from home or “off premises” is much different. Let’s say now that your kids are done with school, you decide to take your laptop and work from the patio at your swim club or even at the beach. If you decide to take a quick swim and your laptop is stolen, most homeowners’ insurance (ISO HO-91) will only provide $250 of coverage. The minute you bring your laptop away from your home, or even in your car, the coverage provided by your homeowners insurance is reduced. There are homeowners’ policies that provide more coverage for “business” personal property located “off premises.” For instance, the ISO HO-2000 provides for $500 of coverage and the ISO HO-2011 provides for $1500 of coverage. Your McSweeney & Ricci Account Manager can evaluate your current home insurance and will advise you on the proper levels of coverage for your individual needs.
How can I increase the coverage provided by my homeowners’ insurance now that I’m working from home?
An incidental office occupancy endorsement (HO 04 42), added onto your homeowners’ insurance policy, increases the on premises coverage for your “business” personal property. The office occupancy endorsements are inexpensive, with most costing less than $100 annually. Now with so many employees “tele-commuting” due to COVID-19 restrictions, these endorsements have become vitally important. When the office occupancy endorsement is added, it provides premises liability and coverage for your personal computer to be used in business, or a computer, monitor, printer, etc. that your employer owns but lets you bring home for work. Some of these endorsements even expand the amount of business contents off premises coverage.
How can I add an office occupancy endorsement to my homeowners’ coverage?
If you are now working from home, your McSweeney & Ricci Account Manager can review your current home insurance program and the limits of your current homeowners’ coverage. We will ask questions to determine your level of risk, and make recommendations for additional protection if necessary. We’ve partnered with many of the top insurance companies to allow us to customize coverage for each client. We will select the highest level of coverage available for your budget and needs.