When the UK government enforced social distancing back in March, hundreds of thousands of small businesses, and millions of employees, found themselves remote working almost overnight. The transition to the new working environment happened remarkably quickly, and for many businesses this digital-only world was completely new ground for them.
As we all settle into what’s been termed the “new normal” however, a number of questions are being raised about how secure businesses really are with their entire workforce working remotely, and what remote working insurance they need in place to ensure they remain fully protected.
Am I covered for remote working in my household insurance?
Probably not. It is unlikely that your household insurance will cover any business activities unless they have been disclosed to and agreed with your insurer.
This is because most household insurance policies are only intended to cover domestic activities and not commercial activities (which may include working from home). If you work for a company, then that company won’t be a party to your household insurance contract either, so it’s important that the company has its own insurance policy which covers employees working from home.
Does my Employer Liability insurance extend to my staff remote working?
Insurance policies differ so you will need to check your policy documents. Digital Risks for example provides automatic cover for employees anywhere in the UK (including when they work from home), though it’s best to always check the terms and conditions to be safe
Please remember that an employer’s liability insurance is a legal requirement for employers in the UK. Your businesses must have this in place under law. Failing to have an employer’s liability policy can result in a £2,500 fine for each day you don’t have it.
What if employees are faced with a data breach? How can businesses protect against cyber security threats?
With so many of us now working at home, it’s likely that employees will be downloading applications, working on unsecured Wi-Fi networks and using personal devices. These are all elements that can increase the risk of a cyber-attack happening. In fact, the World Health Organisation, perhaps the most recognisable organisation on the planet right now, has revealed that it has seen a fivefold increase in attempted breaches since the Covid-19 outbreak began.
Small businesses can be easier targets than their corporate counterparts because they have less cyber security resources available to them. They therefore need to be particularly wary of the increased threat while employees are working from home.
As a first step, taking out a cyber insurance policy is crucial. This will cover a business’s liability for a data breach involving sensitive customer information, such as credit card numbers, passwords and personally identifiable information (PII) etc. But above and beyond this, it’s all about educating staff on how to identify and avoid security threats before they happen. Remind employees to keep an eye out for any suspicious email, and definitely do not open them or click unknown links. Avoid downloading any applications on work devices that are not for business use and have not been vetted by the wider company. And where possible, only use secured networks.
Security breaches do happen though, and SMEs therefore must have an effective response plan in place to control the situation as quickly as possible. This will ensure minimum impact on operations and to your customers.
What if my IT is taken home by staff and then stolen? Is it covered by my insurance policy or theirs?
It’s unlikely that company owned property will be covered by an employee’s household insurance. Employers will need to check their business insurance policy to see what equipment is covered and where. Also, it’s vital to check your sums insured – particularly if you have purchased additional equipment for people working from home. Digital Risks provides cover for computer equipment anywhere in the UK (including at employees homes) as standard.
What if a staff member has an accident while working from home? Does my health and safety insurance cover it?
Employers liability insurance can cover your liability to employees for accidental injury if you have been negligent in providing them with a safe working environment. If you have a group personal accident policy, you will need to check the policy to see where and when your employees are covered.
Ben Rose is chief underwriting officer at Digital Risks