Do Telecommuters Have Special Insurance Needs?

Do you have an arrangement with your employer to work from your home for either part or all of your work week? Is it an on-going rather than a temporary agreement? If your answer is yes, then you are among the nation's telecommuters.

The increased flexibility you enjoy by not having to fight commuter traffic or squeeze into a cubicle is accompanied by a special set of concerns regarding insurance coverage for your property and for your legal responsibility to other persons. Following are some important coverage needs that any telecommuter must examine. Home Property

You may have gaps in coverage caused by either business property that belongs to your employer that is kept in your home or your own property that is used either fully or partially to perform your job duties. In either case, you'll find that your home or tenant's policy severely restricts or excludes coverage for property having business-related use. What complicates this situation is that such property usually consists of high-valued items that are vulnerable to damage and are also attractive to thieves. This property includes items such as fax machines, copiers, computers, computer peripherals (monitors, printers, scanner, modems) and phones, answering machines, etc. Home Liability

While your home or tenant's policy protects you against most instances in which you cause others injury or damage others' property; the situation is changed when the loss has a business connection. Personal insurance policies that include liability protection typically exclude business-related losses. Further, different policies can be quite broad in interpreting how a loss is connected to "business." Liability Policies A and B would routinely respond to handling an insured who spilled hot coffee on a guest in his home. What if, instead of being a social guest, the visitor was your employer's client? Policy A may still offer coverage because it considers the coffee spill to be a common home hazard. But Policy B may flat-out exclude the loss because the injured person was in the home for a business reason. Vehicle Liability

Instead of using your personal vehicle for going to and from work, more of your vehicle use may be related to your job. Many instances of job related use may be excluded from your personal auto coverage. Home Accidents

Simple events may be complicated when they occur in the course of performing your job at home. Coverage for injuries suffered while going up the stairs or experiencing a prolonged illness may cause coverage questions for your employer. Individual company or state-mandated coverage for employees may not apply to work-related accidents that occur at home. Document What You Do

In order to determine what insurance coverage needs you have to address, you must clearly identify your exposure to business losses. Document the following:

  • What routine job duties do you perform in your home?
  • Are any tasks hazardous?
  • Who visits your home because of your job (clients, vendors, repair personnel, suppliers, Others?) Be Specific.
  • How often do such persons visit?
  • Is a certain part of your home dedicated as a work area/office?
  • What equipment is used in your job? (Is the equipment used only for your job? Who owns each piece of equipment?)

Once you have a good idea of the loss exposures from performing your job at home, you need to discuss your situation with an insurance professional. An insurance pro can help you find additional coverage options as well as help to identify what coverage gaps must be addressed by your employer. While it can be liberating to telecommute, you must make sure that you haven't given up important protection along with your cubicle.

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