Will home & contents insurance cover a home office?
The year of 2020 has really shaken up the work-lifestyle mix. Many Australians transitioned from office spaces to living room work stations, alongside a raft of other restrictions and changes to workflow (we’re looking at you, Slack calls and Google Hangouts).
These altered working arrangements may have been short-lived for some, but for others working from home (WFH) could become the norm.
In a July survey Mozo found 44% of Australians who had shifted to remote work planned to request to work full-time from home. Flexibility also came to the fore, with 78% of those able to work from home hoping to continue working within less rigid hours.
So, if that one-off WFH scenario has now changed into a permanent home office set-up, you may need to take a closer look at your home insurance.
Many home and contents insurance policies will cover work-related equipment up to a certain dollar limit as standard. If you’re an employee of a company now working from home permanently – rather than someone running their own business from home – these are some of the things you may want to check are covered by your policy.
Home office equipment. This usually covers what you might use if you were otherwise working in a professional office space. This includes things like furniture, computers and printers, and other bits and bobs like stationary or recording devices.
If you’ve invested in a whole lot of new tech for your workspace, it might be worth letting your insurer know and updating your policy to ensure everything is covered to its proper value. If your home office set-up is collectively worth $15,000 and you’re only insured for $10,000, you’ll be out of pocket if you need to make a claim.
Tools of trade. While the tools of some trades are covered under office equipment, others won’t fit the bill. This will usually be more specialised items used in professions regarded as ‘trades’ like construction, plumbing, electrical installation and painting. You’ll often find there’s also portable coverage for these items, since people in these roles will need to travel between sites using these tools.
Remember to look out for if tools of trade fall in the optional extra column, and to opt-in if you want them insured.
Other contents within the home office space. You might be able to do your job without a handwoven rug on the floor and original artwork on the walls, but you should still take this kind of stuff into consideration when it comes to insurance.
While it may not be covered under the ‘home office equipment’ category, you should check your policy for any limits which apply to this kind of decor. Because hey, if you need your home office to look schmick for video calls, then it serves a working purpose! You don’t want to have an even bigger bill if there’s a disaster and you need to replace your whole WFH space.
Am I still covered for workers compensation if I’m working from home?
If you’re injured in the course of working from home, it’s important to understand your legal rights to insurance as an employee in this new context.
NSW Compensations Lawyers point out that the Workplace Health and Safety Act of 1995 ensures employees working from home are still covered under workplace insurance if they are injured while carrying out work. To be insured under this act, your employer will need to have determined that your workspace meets health and safety requirements.
However, there are certainly some blurred lines around what area of your home constitutes your dedicated workplace and what taking breaks might mean. So, it’s a good idea to have a chat to your employer about how you’re covered before committing to a permanent WFH lifestyle.
Next, read up and make sure you get the most out of your tax return while working from home.