Most large-scale enterprises and many small to medium business owners have resorted to remote working, as offices have shut down owing to the COVID-19 situation. This has led to a major upheaval in the system of operations. Of course, not all roles in all businesses can be performed remotely. Also, some people face new challenges as their homes don’t have proper facilities for remote working. But there’s a surprisingly large set of people who have embraced working from home with gusto. With no time lost over commuting long distances, workers are adapting remarkably quickly and increasing their productivity. Across a variety of sectors, companies are wondering why they didn’t try this earlier.
When things return to normalcy the remote working habit of the employees will be difficult to reverse and this could impact decisions businesses make about their real estate needs and also the shape of offices. One question is, how business property insurance, which currently covers the company building, its contents and exteriors from disasters, theft, and vandalism, will change with the remote working led transformation of the workplace.
Let’s look at the changing scenarios of the work environment of the future.
What does commercial property insurance currently deal with?
At present, the commercial property insurance in the Business Owner’s Policy (BOP) covers the risks concerning damage or destruction of the commercial property, office equipment like furniture, computers, servers, inventories, official documents and its exteriors like fences, signs, and others. In other words, the policy protects your company from man-made disasters like fire, theft, and vandalism, depending on your location, the industry you are in, and your existing protective measures like fire and security systems, construction upgrades, etc.
If telecommuting becomes the norm after this national crisis is over, most employees would like to work remotely more often than not, probably leading to significant changes in the policy, as the commercial building will no longer be the only place that people work from.
Scroll on to know how the insurance policy might extend its cover to provide 360-degree protection to the remote-working employees, the benefits of the same, as well as the liabilities.
General liability insurance for telecommuting employees
If your employees start working from home regularly, you may need to talk to your insurer about extending the general liability insurance coverage under the Business Owner’s Policy. Currently, it covers physical injuries and property damage by third-parties, as well as incidents like copyright infringement, libel, and others that directly or indirectly harm the business assets or the people associated with the company.
When remote working becomes common, the insurance may need to be extended to cover personal injuries related to business functions, regardless of the location, as well as any probable damage to official documents, intellectual property like cloud systems, commercial pages, profiles, passwords, etc.
Property Insurance for remote working employees
Even when remote working becomes common in the SMEs, as well as the large-scale organizations, commercial property insurance will still have to cover business equipment like computers, laptops, hard disks, special tools, and everything that the company provides the telecommuting employees with.
Even the official files and documents that the employee takes home will come under the cover, as business assets. You need to sit with your insurer and talk about the matter in detail before defining a policy to prevent hassles in the future.
Small business insurance for remote workers
If you have a small business, you should consider including the telecommuting workers into the worker’s compensation scheme, besides asking your insurer to extend the general liability insurance to cover work from home facilities. However, as each state has its own definition of worker’s compensation insurance, you should understand the rules laid out by the State Worker’s Compensation office in the US Department of Labor to define your requirements for the extension of coverage benefits.
Commercial umbrella coverage while working from home
You should opt for commercial umbrella coverage to insure all your business properties, real or virtual that exceed the cover provided by liability and property insurance. This will give you additional liability cover for telecommuting employees like damage expenses, legal fees or medical bills. It’s an excellent policy for businesses that involve regular interactions with clients/customers, frequent remote working or public visits.
If and when working from home becomes common for your employees, the umbrella coverage can also be extended to cover communication systems, like internet connectivity, routers, cell phones, and anything that your business depends on for its day-to-day operations.
Extending commercial property insurance for business interruptions
At present, commercial property insurance doesn’t cover a loss of income caused by some damage that’s not covered in the policy. It is solely concerned with protecting the commercial property, its equipment and the building exteriors against damage or destruction caused by third-parties. However, when remote working becomes the norm for most companies, the owners should talk to their insurers about extending the policy to cover the damages and destruction to the employee’s remote working areas as well.
Their homes and any remote-working site of the company could fall under the commercial property insurance if hundreds of employees take to telecommuting. Changes can also be made to the home insurances of such employees to cover business assets and interests, but the extension of commercial property insurance seems to be the most feasible option.
Wrapping it up
While it’s difficult to make significant changes in the policy for just one or two companies, it may be possible for the norms to change if remote working becomes a universal practice after the national crisis. And why shouldn’t that be the case? After all, this is what is keeping thousands of companies from shutting down completely during the national emergency, and it’s also saving millions of jobs in the process.