Here's how to right-size your insurance policies for work from home
If the place you call home and your office are one in the same, you’ve probably thought through several logistical questions — like whether you need to upgrade your internet speed or which space in your home is the best backdrop for a video call. One item you might have missed is whether you need to make any changes to your insurance policies.
That’s especially worth thinking about if you run a business out of your home, have a lot of expensive work equipment, or you see clients in your home. Here’s what you need to know.
What happens when something breaks
If you have homeowners or renters insurance — and not much in the way of pricey work gear — you might be set. While those policies are meant mainly to cover your personal belongings, most also offer up to $2,500 in business equipment coverage.
Keep in mind that homeowners and renters insurance policies typically only pay to replace or repair an item in situations like a fire, natural disaster, or theft. Damage to a laptop from a kitchen fire would be covered. But frying your laptop by spilling a cup of green tea onto the keyboard? Not so much.
Meanwhile, if you’re on staff at a company, there’s a good chance that your company’s insurance policies extend to any equipment or supplies they’ve given you to take home, said Stephen Kates, a certified financial planner and head of partner management for Bankrate Loans. Still, it’s worthwhile to check.
“It makes sense to ask your employer: ‘What am I liable for? What are you expecting will happen with this equipment?’” he said.
If your employer expects you to replace lost or damaged equipment yourself, you might need to add a rider to your insurance coverage, Kates said.
“And in that case, will your employer reimburse you for that additional insurance coverage or is the cost just on you?” he said. “It’s a gray area that we’ll be seeing more and more of.”
Protecting against slips and falls
Another important part of homeowners or renters insurance is liability coverage. That’s insurance that protects you if someone takes a header walking up your stairs or trips on a rug in your house.
“Slips and falls are a very real thing,” Kates said. “And while homeowners insurance would cover your medical liability if someone hurt themselves in your home, it’s a gray area if they’re coming to your home for a business reason.”
There is an option known as an endorsement to bump up the amount of property and liability protection for a business through your homeowners or renters insurance. For about $25 a month, you could add up to $10,000 worth of equipment coverage, and additional liability protection as long as you don’t see many clients at home, according to the Insurance Information Institute. If you need more equipment protection or you regularly have clients in your house, you might want an in-home business policy instead.
If you’re on staff for a company, the company’s liability insurance probably has you covered, but don’t hesitate to ask.
“Companies that have had remote employees for a while probably have all this worked out,” Kates said. “But there are a lot of companies that — because of the pandemic — are dealing with a large remote workforce for the first time.”
Driving less? Save money
Between remote work and social distancing, your car might be getting a little dusty. You’re not alone. People are driving less these days. Auto insurance companies took note and automatically rebated some insurance premiums last year to the tune of $14 billion.
“It’s unlikely they’re going to do auto rebates again in 2021, so that’s where you have to advocate for yourself,” Kates said. “If you’re driving a lot less than you used to, call your insurer. Explain that your driving has dropped by half and ask about changes to your policy.”
Another factor to consider is whether you’re using your car for business purposes. That goes both for driving to see clients as well as rideshare or delivery work for companies like Uber, Lyft, DoorDash or Instacart. With Uber, for example, you have to have the drivers app activated to be covered by their insurance. And your personal insurance isn’t going to want to pay when you’re on the clock for them.
“Your personal auto insurance won’t cover you during those business engagements,” Kates said. “You should be getting drivers coverage from Uber or Lyft or Instacart during those times.”
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