Does your insurance cover working from home?

The Coronavirus pandemic has seen home working go through the roof. If you’ve been working remotely, this guide looks at home insurance and whether you’re covered on an existing policy.

What’s the issue?

If you’re working from home, you might not have even considered whether you need insurance, or just assume that your home insurance will cover you.

The problem is, your home insurance is intended for residential use and not business, which could leave you short of cover, depending on the work you do and what equipment you need.

Is your office equipment covered?

Your home insurance policy will determine what cover is included and this largely depends on:

  1. What equipment you have
  2. Who supplies your equipment
  3. The value of your equipment
  4. Where the equipment is used

If you’re renting, you’ll only have contents insurance, but if you own your property, you’ll also have buildings insurance, or a combined home insurance policy that covers both.

1. What counts as home office equipment?

This is defined by each insurer, so you’ll need to check the contents section of your policy. It usually includes:

  • Computers, keyboards and laptops
  • Printers and scanners
  • Office furniture

What is excluded?

Any property other than home office equipment that’s held or used at your home for business, trade or professional purposes won’t be covered against loss or damage.

For example, phones, merchandise, tools, construction materials, and cash.

If you need cover for business items like these, you should contact your insurer who will assess the risk and advise what your options are.

2. Who bought the equipment?

If you’re using your own home office equipment, most contents insurers cover it as standard, but not all so double check.

If you’ve been asked to work from home by your employer and they provide your electronic equipment, it’s their responsibility to insure it.

Check their company policy for restrictions in how it’s used or stored at home, and whether you can also use it outside your home, so you don’t invalidate any potential claims.

3. How much cover is included?

You’ll need to check your contents insurance policy wording document to find out the value of cover that’s included, or call your insurer.

Most policies provide €3,000 to €4,000 cover for home office equipment. There will also be a single item value limit that applies.

If you need to increase this amount of cover, you could consider:

  • A premium policy that has a higher cover level, but you’ll usually have to pay extra
  • A separate gadget insurance policy that specifically covers high value items

It’s a good opportunity to check that you’ve set the replacement value for all the contents in your home at the correct level. Our guide to contents insurance explains more on this.

4. Where can you use your office equipment?

If you only have standard cover, you’re probably just covered to use it at home.

If you want to use it away from home, some insurers extend ‘All Risks cover’ to home office equipment, but not all.

All Risks is an add on that protects your personal possessions from loss and damage both in and away from home.

Other exclusions

Since most remote working involves the use of a laptop or computer, it’s worth being aware of these common home insurance policy claim exclusions:

  • Failure of your computers and electrical equipment
  • Loss or damage caused by your computer or electrical equipment not recognising the correct calendar date
  • Damage caused by computer viruses

Does gadget insurance offer better protection?

If your devices are portable, expensive to replace and relatively new, gadget insurance could be a better option than contents insurance.

Portable gadgets are covered in and away from home with gadget insurance, but you’d have to add All Risks cover (if available) to your contents insurance to get this protection.

You may also be able to get a lower excess on a gadget insurance policy, and your device could be replaced quicker if you had to claim.

Our guide: How to get the best gadget insurance explains more about what you’re covered for, common exclusions, and how it works.

What about public and personal liability?

Home insurance usually covers claims arising from visitors to your home who suffer an injury or damage to their property.

For example, if a tile falls off the roof and hits someone, you’re liable as the homeowner, but any costs awarded, would be covered by your insurance.

What it means for your business

  • Public liability: protects you from claims against your business from a third party, excluding employees.
  • Personal liability: protects you from claims made against you by a third party.

Are you covered?

Home insurance doesn’t cover personal or public liability resulting from your employment, business, profession or trade.

For example, if your job involves customers visiting your home, you won’t be covered if they have an accident that results in injury, illness or death, or if their property gets lost or damaged.

Another example is if you store confidential client information on your laptop and it gets stolen, causing their details to be compromised.

In each scenario, if a claim was brought against you or your business, you’d be responsible for legal costs and settlement costs if they won the case.

This could amount to thousands of euro, and even result in bankruptcy.

Contact your insurer

To protect yourself, make sure you share details with your insurer about the role you’re doing at home, answer their questions honestly and follow their advice.

Any claim you make will be invalidated if you’re found to have withheld information about the use of your home or contents.

So, does home insurance offer enough cover?

It depends on all of the factors outlined in this guide. Here’s a quick summary:

  • What equipment do you use? Check if it’s covered by the definition of home office equipment in your policy wording document. If not, gadget insurance or business insurance could be a better option. Discuss with your insurer or a broker, then shop around for the best policy.
  • How much is your equipment worth? If it costs more to replace items than the cover limit on your policy, consider upgrading your policy or getting gadget insurance.
  • Do you need to work away from home? If you don’t have All Risks cover, you could add this, or look at getting gadget insurance which covers devices away from home.
  • Do you need to meet with clients or customers? If they need to visit your home, you’re not protected against third party claims. Specialist business insurance could offer the protection you need.

Don’t risk a claim being invalidated or made against you. Contact your insurer about the work you’re doing at home, and they will advise on your options.

Working from home FAQs

Do I need to insure my work laptop when I work remotely?

No, if your employer has asked you to work from home using the laptop they’ve provided, it’s their responsibility to ensure it’s adequately insured.

Is gadget insurance more expensive than contents insurance?

Gadget insurance is a separate policy for portable devices, so you’ll still need contents insurance for your other household belongings. You’ll probably pay less per month for gadget insurance, but it’s only covering your specified items.

If you just have contents insurance to cover your home office equipment, chances are you’ll need a premium policy and All Risks cover which cost more, and still may not offer as much protection as gadget insurance.

To work out whether to get gadget insurance as well as contents insurance, you’ll need to weigh up:

  • What protection you need for your devices
  • What excess you can afford
  • Where you’ll be using your home office equipment
  • Whether you could afford to replace items yourself if they were lost or damaged

Take a look at our contents insurance and gadget insurance guides to find out more.

What excess will I have to pay?

You can usually choose whether to set your voluntary excess at the minimum level or higher.

The minimum and maximum excess levels depend on things like the insurer, the type of insurance and the amount of cover you need. The excess is likely to be lower on a gadget insurance policy than home insurance.

Having a higher excess will make your policy cheaper but it’ll be expensive if you have to claim. A low excess will make your policy more expensive but it will reduce what you pay in a claim.