Working from home could be here to stay for roughly half of those UK workers able to do so. A survey of 5000 UK working adults, by the University of Nottingham and Stanford University, has found almost one-fifth (19%) want to continue working from home for five or more days a week. A fifth wish to do so for two days a week; another fifth for three days a week.
Many large organisations are now considering implementing a 3-2 plan, of three days working from the office and two from home. Hybrid working appears to be the future for many businesses and Lloyds Banking Group will be trialling hybrid working for thousands of staff in late spring after their research showed 77% of employees would be positive about working from home two to three days a week.
These trends will be witnessed throughout the economy and small and medium-sized businesses are also likely to have to offer working from home as an option, for at least some of the working week. The strength of the demand for working from home means it is likely to be here to stay for many, but with that come insurance implications.
During lockdowns, home insurance providers did not require homeworkers to amend their home insurance policies, but that situation may change once restrictions lift. Anyone leaving employment to start a home-based business definitely needs to review their insurance. Not telling an insurer about new and permanent working arrangements would be deemed not declaring a ‘material fact’, which could invalidate any claim.
Insurance needs to cover both equipment and the data and systems it holds and operates. Hybrid workers potentially take laptops and data on journeys to and from the office. They need to check carefully with their employer who is insuring this and who would be deemed liable should a data breach occur in transit. Leaving a laptop on a train, or logging into a hotspot without use of a VPN and then being hacked, could both have major repercussions.
If employees rely on their home insurance to cover office laptops and gadgets, they should check their policy covers portable equipment and that accidental damage cover is in place, to prevent losses after spillages or breakages. Accidental damage claims have increased significantly during lockdown and laptops frequently feature. Single-item limits also need to be sufficient.
Homeworking insurance pricing typically depends on whether work is just clerical, or involves clients and others visiting the property – something lockdown has prevented. A change in ‘use’ of the home could be significant. Any other ‘business use’ of parts of the home, such as kitchen or garage, could also affect a premium. Having business stock covered by home insurance is highly unlikely.
Small and medium-sized businesses should also focus on the cyber risks surrounding working from home, especially as 65% of medium-sized and 39% of all businesses suffered a cyber security breach in the 12 months prior to and detailed in the Gov.uk Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2021.
Neither a Commercial Combined nor Home Property insurance policy may fully cover all computer risks, but the growth in homeworking has seen new insurance policies emerging. Some cover both installed and portable computer equipment at a core cover level and then enable the addition of other modules offering benefits, such as covering the costs of reinstating data with professional help, increases in the cost of working following a cyber-at- tack or incident, and issues caused by viruses, hacking and denial of services attacks. As your insurance broker we are able to talk you through the ramifications and remedies available in these situations.
Protect your homeworking equipment from all risks and not just from theft but also cyber theft, if you continue to work from home. Not everything is stolen in physical form and protecting against the virtual threat is increasingly important, particularly if business losses would result from not having the right protection.