Who covers my office equipment when working from home?

07 Jan

In a recent Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article, John Sebak, owner of Sebak Insurance Agency in Natrona Heights detailed a recent claim he dealt with that involved a person working from home who was in a car accident that destroyed his work computer. The question the claim presented was does the employer’s insurance cover the laptop or does it fall to the employee’s insurance. 

“The car insurance didn’t cover it, but their home insurance policy did,” said Mr. Sebak, in the Post-Gazette article. “The employee was responsible for the computer, he said, which is why the employee ended up filing the claim and paying the $500 deductible. But it was still cheaper than paying the full price for a new computer.”

As more and more people work from home while using company equipment, this question has started coming up more frequently. If your home is burgled, burns down or even if one of your children knocks a cup of juice over onto your work computer you could end up buying the company new office equipment. 

“We are in uncharted waters for a lot people and the situations they are in,” Mr. Sebak said in the Post-Gazette article.

Remote work has become more common in recent years but soared in 2020 as the pandemic forced millions to work from home. According to the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, a whopping 42 percent of the U.S Labor force is currently working from home full time. 

This can create some risk for homeowners as the majority of homeowner insurance policies exclude damage if you are operating a home-based business. If you are working from home you should look at the details of your policy in regards to working from home and what is considered a home based business. 

On the other side of the coin, the majority of business policies limit coverage to the location of the business unless additional coverage is purchased that would protect the equipment out of the office. 

Steve Wilson, a senior underwriting manager at Hippo Insurance Co. in Austin, Texas offered some advice for dealing with claims related to the company equipment in the Post-Gazette article:

  • If your work equipment is damaged, your first call should be to your employer to determine if their insurance will cover a loss at the employee’s home. 
  • The employee should take photos and video of the damage which will be needed regardless of whose insurance company ends up handling the claim. 
  • If your employer was not confident that their insurance would cover the damage, it’s time to get your insurer involved. Call your insurance company, explain the situation as well as details of the damage and your call with your employer to see if you are covered or if business equipment is excluded.
  • Once you have determined whose insurance will deal with the damage you will need to file a claim. Unfortunately, if neither insurance company is willing to cover the damage you may be replacing the equipment on your own. 

The majority of insurance experts recommend calling your insurance company if you are working from home to alert them to that fact and determine if you are covered if there is an accident with company equipment. If coverage is not offered for office equipment, ask if you can purchase a rider that would cover your office equipment. 

For new home insurance quotes that cover home based business equipment like computers, tablets or phones, get a homeowners insurance quote online or give us a call at 855-980-6963.

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