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Home Insurance Implications of Working Remotely
Last Updated:
October 16, 2020
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In our previous article we mentioned the most common concern for policyholders during the COVID-19 pandemic was “we’re not driving as much”. This has been a large focus for most people considering that working remotely was expected to be temporary.

Employers were first unsure of the effectiveness of working remotely but now many companies are looking to this arrangement even when the pandemic is over. Therefore, remote working is looking to be more prevalent in society and will not only decrease your chances of an automobile insurance claim, it will also have an impact on your property insurance.

Home Insurance Changes Due to Working from Home

With more of us working from home and our children spending more time at home, insurance companies must now consider the possibility of additional risks.

Now, most companies require nothing if you are working remotely on a temporary basis, yet if it does become permanent, a small endorsement may need to be added to your property policy to protect your interests.

Typically, insurance companies require policyholders add a liability extension to property insurance policies. This is commonly referred to as “Incidental Office Use” and you can expect an additional cost of approximately $20.00 per year.

This endorsement only needs to be considered for households with one or more people working in the home permanently.

Home-Based Business Started During COVID-19

We have noticed that many of our clients have started their own business during the pandemic. It’s important to note that a standard Homeowner’s Insurance policy typically will not completely cover the operations of a home business.

A Home-Based Business package provides the suitable protection and often ranges from $100 to $300 per year. This additional coverage will provide Professionally Liability that is not provided by homeowners insurance. Professional Liability Insurance will protect you and your business should one of your clients hold you responsible for any errors in the products or services you provide.

This homeowners endorsement may not be sufficient to protect your business, for example if you employ others, have clients visiting your home, or have valuable business equipment and/or inventory. If this is the case, speak with one of our Business Insurance experts to determine the best protection for your business.

Homeschooling

In Ontario, parents have the option to allow their children to attend in-person or participate in remote learning this year. According to the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB), elementary students will be in person 5 days a week, if they choose to attend in person.

If parents, decide remote learning is best for their children (and all high school students), the idea of setting up an “education pod” has become a popular option.

If your children are planning to learn from home, even part-time, it’s important to note that having a teacher, tutor, or other children in your home could open up your exposure to additional insurance risks. A standard property insurance policy does not provide the liability coverage for these situations. Let your insurance broker know if you plan to have others in your home for the purpose of learning from home.

Daycare in Your Home

Most insurance companies do not permit daycare operations in the home. If this is something you are considering or even considering having your child in another person’s home, it’s very important to make sure the homeowners insurance policy provides coverage for daycare.

Please speak with your insurance broker if this is the case in your home.

Safety at Home

Lastly, with many working from home and children learning from home, it is important to review your fire safety and emergency plans with your entire family.

When creating fire and emergency escape plan, incorporate the following elements:

  • Always check the temperature of all doors and door handles before opening. If it feels hot, use the secondary exit.
  • Do not waste time saving personal property. Have important items backed up digitally in the cloud or close to one of your emergency exits.
  • If your must escape through smoke, stay low and cover your mouth.
  • Establish a meeting place a safe distance from your home.
  • Never re-enter a burning home.
  • Practice the plan!
Sample Home Escape Plan

There are many steps homeowners and their families can take to help prevent emergencies. Some examples of home emergency preventive measures include:

  • Ensure electronics are connected via surge protectors
  • Secure electronic wires with cable clips, zip, ties, or “under desk cable trays”
  • Never overload a circuit
  • Completely enclose all pools with a fence and self-locking gates
  • Never leave children or guests alone in or around your pool. As the homeowner, you are ultimately liable for the safety of others in the pool on your property.
  • Use nightlights to help prevent trips and falls at night
  • Make sure your garage door has an automatic feature the reverses the door if it meets an object while closing
  • Never leave information about when you’re away from your home, even on social media.
  • Alert friends and neighbours when you will be away for an extended period of time.
  • Use automatic timers on your lights.

For more tips about protecting your home, contact your Scrivens insurance broker.