Insurance for working from home
Here's how to make sure you - or your employees - are properly insured while working from home
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Whether you're a business owner with remote employees, or you're running your own business from home, this guide will help you understand exactly what type of insurance you need, so you've got peace of mind that your income is protected. Skip ahead to find cover for your needs.
I'm working from home. Will my home insurance cover me?
It's unlikely your home insurance will cover you for any loss related to a business or trade activity, unless you've specifically added it onto your policy. Though it might cover you for your office equipment or furniture.
If you are running a business from your home, you should be sure to inform your insurance company, as this may have an impact on your policy.
I'm working from home. Am I still covered by workers compensation?
In short, yes – as long as you meet certain requirements. Workers compensation is mandatory insurance for Australian employers and covers any injuries or accidents employees sustain while doing their job, no matter where you are.
That means even if you're working at home, you're still an employee and are entitled to the same protection as you'd have if you were working from the office.
However, if you're working from home, you have to ensure your work area satisfies some basic regulations, in order to be covered.
According to Shine Lawyers, your employer's policy should cover you as long as:
- Entries and exits to your house comply with normal business requirements.
- You follow Work Health and Safety guidelines.
- You and your employer have discussed what the insurance will cover. This may include damage to personal and company property, damage to your house and public liability if you meet with customers.
When does workers compensation not cover me?
There's some grey area in workers compensation claims when it comes to employees working from home but, generally, you'll be covered if you're in your designated work zone doing a task related to your job, while on company hours.
This leaves some room for interpretation. For example, workers compensation claims have been awarded to a Telstra employee who damaged her shoulder while going downstairs to lock her door and to a man who injured his back while rushing to answer a phone call from his boss.
However, these cases hinged on specific details – the woman had been instructed by Telstra to keep her house secure while working, and the man had previously been reprimanded by his boss for not answering the phone quickly enough.
In addition, some people aren't covered when they think they are. For example, independent contractors aren't considered employees when it comes to cover.
I'm a sole trader working from home. How do I protect myself?
If you're a sole trader, you're unable to cover yourself under workers compensation. However, there are other insurance options you may want to consider.
Income protection insurance: Replaces a portion of your regular income if you suffer an injury or illness which prevents you from earning a living for a significant period of time.
Total and permanent disability (TPD) insurance: Pays a lump-sum benefit if you suffer a life changing illness or injury and can no longer work.
Life (death) insurance: Pays a lump-sum benefit if you die or, in some cases, are diagnosed with a terminal illness.
I'm a business owner. What do I need if my staff work from home?
If you have employees who work from home, you're still responsible for ensuring they have a safe work environment and will need suitable insurance too.
Workers compensation insurance is mandatory for all Australian employers and will pay a financial benefit if your employee is injured while working from home.
Further, you'll also want to consider public liability insurance, which pays a benefit if someone other than an employee is injured, or someone's property is damaged.
However, some providers won't cover employees working from home, so make sure you check your PDS carefully, or speak to the insurer directly.
Am I responsible for my employees while they're working from home?
Yes. Employers still have an obligation to provide a safe working environment for employees, even if they're working remotely.
Obviously, this can be a little tricky but there are some steps you can take to minimize your exposure, and help your employees stay safe.
You need to be sure their work area meets occupational health and safety (OHS) standards. An inspection and assessment of the area is usually required, which generally involves looking at:
- Any tripping hazards and risks
- Security issues such as fire exit access, first aid and noise levels
- Electrical safety
How can income protection cover help?
Whether you're an employee or a business owner, income protection insurance can provide a more extensive safety net compared to workers compensation.
Income protection cover can include the following perks:
- Wider occupation cover. Self-employed individuals and homemakers can seek income protection.
- Partner benefits. If your partner needs to take time off to look after you following an illness or accident, they can recoup their lost income.
- Rehabilitation cover. This provides cover for programs or treatment to help you return to work.
- Extended benefit cover. Your benefits can cover you up until the age of 70.
To see exactly how income protection cover measures up to basic workers compensation, check out our article here.
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