We’ve been thinking about how we all got a taste of that work-from-home (WFH) life in the last three years, and how it shifted so much of the global workforce. As a business owner, you may have had to find new footing when it comes to hiring and managing employees.
More and more people want a work from home option. Wearing stretchy pants instead of business casual/professional, not to mention that time flexibility, are too alluring to give up so easily. Many office-based businesses have struck an accord with this reality, most offering hybrid work options if not fully remote jobs. Some, of course, have no provision for this … plumbers can’t WFH in stretchy pants. Sorry, plumbers.
But if your business is built to handle WFH, there are new concerns to consider. One being insurance coverage for your employees.
The TCG Accounting Team’s
“Real World” Business Strategy Note
Remote Work & Your Business Insurance Policy
“Out of sight, out of mind. The absent are always in the wrong.” – Thomas a Kempis
Not long ago, your insurance needs were clearer for protecting your employees and company – but workforces have changed in the last few years. Surveys say that workers are happy saving commute time and money (hello, high gas prices). But what does a WFH staff do to your need for insurance, when that expensive level of protection is dictated primarily by physical presence?
A common insurance concern for employers is an employee falling in the office due to negligent maintenance. Still a worry, of course, but maybe less common if your remote workers aren’t around to trip on a loose floor tile.
With remote workers, your danger hasn’t gone away, it’s just changed. More likely dangers today include cybercrime, or company equipment in your employees’ homes – be it spills or any other number of accidents.
Are you responsible?
Yes, practically speaking. Employment injuries may fall under Workers’ Compensation. Your potential liability is unchanged – though a case always depends on circumstances and state workplace laws, depending what proof is needed that the injury happened due to employment.
The same generally holds true for property damage and other types of insurance. Policies for employees, homeowners and renters typically don’t cover work-related claims. Your employee health and dental benefits will probably remain largely unchanged by remote work, too.
But an employee working off premises multiplies the variables. When and how in their home did the injury or accident occur? What distracted them at that moment? Were they hurt while working or doing their laundry?
Note one other pandemic-related break in your liability: If you don’t force them to come into your office, they can’t factually claim that they contracted Covid on your premises, nor during their employment with you.
What you can do
So your insurance needs continue more or less the same given remote work. But insurers have always been known to give a break on premiums if you do things to lower their chance of parting with money.
Will your carrier cut you a deal if you verify (in writing) that work you’ve assigned can be done safely in a home? How about if you helped your employee create a safer WFH space and you gave them the right equipment to safely do the job? (Emphasis on in writing — document everything).
While bending the ear of your insurer, confirm whether your business policy covers work equipment that’s not on your premises. And ask about a remote-worker break on your business insurance — a relatively new idea for carriers, but it could be time for a smart insurance company to offer it and lock in customers.
- Establish written procedures for reporting a work injury at home, including specific instructions on who an employee should contact at your company and by when.
- Revisit your telecommuting and job description documents, just to make sure everything is up to date, and nothing in them increases your liability unnecessarily.
Your biggest hole runs right through your remote workers’ computers. Off-site, these machines are beyond your real control even if you mandate cybersecurity measures.
The price of cyber insurance generally depends on your risks and the information/data you handle, anywhere annually from the mid-three to the mid-four figures, or more. As with other types of coverage, you can argue for a break for good practices (strong firewalls, for instance, or for documented staff training in cyber security).
Inspect all the devices of your staff, by the way, because it’s pretty clear that work gets done everywhere now.
The remote work world is cutting-edge, but also a little complicated for you and your business – We know. But if we can help you help your employees, we’re happy to do so.
On your side,
The TCG Accounting Team