Extended lockdown: Does working from home affect your insurance?
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Following the recent news of yet another extended period of lockdown restrictions amidst rising Covid-19 infections, many South Africans have opted to continue to stay safe by working from home. If you are a homeowner and find yourself in this position, whether working from home permanently or in a hybrid scenario, you may have wondered whether your homeowner’s insurance policy is impacted.
“The answer is yes,” says Christelle Colman, spokesperson for Old Mutual Insure. “It is important if you are working from home to check your policy and take the time to notify your insurer of this change in risk profile, to ensure you are properly covered if your risk has changed, you have acquired additional equipment or IT infrastructure, and so on.”
It is a crucial step to let your insurer know if you are working from home.
“Remember, depending on the kind of business you are in, if you work from home and do not notify your insurer your home insurance may be invalidated if you do need to claim. If you have company equipment at home such as a laptop, a printer or even an uninterrupted power supply (UPS) and you are financially responsible for these items, then check with your employer whether these items are covered in terms of the company insurance. This will help in determining if you need to take out additional cover for this,” explains Colman.
She says Old Mutual Insure has seen a spike in homeowners installing equipment designed to improve their “work from home” experience, especially in light of continued power supply interruptions as a result of loadshedding.
Colman says that it may make sense for you to update your homeowner’s insurance policy or take out an additional policy that’s specifically related to working or conducting business from your home. This is because generally a personal homeowner’s insurance policy is not designed to cover a home-based business, work completed under part-time or full-time employment.
“Your personal homeowner’s policy may not for example, cover you against the liability arising from a client’s personal injury or loss if you were performing a work-related activity at home.”
She adds that most standard home insurance policies will typically not provide adequate cover if you work from home, particularly if you run your own business from your home.
“If you have moved your business full time to your home or set up your new ‘virtual office’, be sure to inform your insurer or broker, especially if you installed machinery, generators, inverters, or additional tech devices,” says Colman.
She adds that other popular equipment that can add up quickly, include headsets, extra screens, webcams, desks, keyboards or tablet devices.
“Although if you are not sure, it is a prudent measure to do the due diligence and check with your broker or your policy contract.”
She adds that the onus is on the policyholder to understand how you and your equipment are covered under your current homeowner’s insurance policy, especially as working from home becomes standard practice.