MAKING CENTS: Questions about working from home
Many people have been working from home during the pandemic. For many, what was once an office environment surrounded by your colleagues, and all of the other distractions that come with being in a workplace has turned into a living room with printers, scanners and video conferences.
For larger businesses that already had great insurance in place, you may not need to do much to be sure that your same coverage and protection exists even though their staff may be working from home.
Equipment such as printers, desks, chairs etc. that were removed from the office to help build out a home office environment may not be covered. According to Geoff Gordon, CEO of Gordon Atlantic Insurance in Norwell, Mass.
“In a plain vanilla property policy, unless there’s a specific add-in for ‘off-site’ business property, equipment that you have moved into the home will not be covered. A “BOP” (business owner’s policy) will often include offsite property, subject to a $1,000 or $5,000 limit. Most office based businesses use BOPs. Check with your agent to be sure.”
Workers compensation insurance is still in effect for people on your payroll even though they are working offsite. According to Gordon, “the big question for workers comp is its cousin, ‘Employers Liability’, which covers for negligence resulting in disease.”
Evidently there is not much known at this time to answer this question. But it is a topic sure to arise for employers that are in full swing such as supermarkets, clinics and health care providers, and anyone else who has been deemed necessary and running near or above their typical capacity.
Two other issues that business owners must consider are their general liability policies and their Cyber Liability policies. General liability often provides global coverage, but some General Liability policies are premise specific. Once again, call your agent to see that your GL policy will work with multiple locations that were unimaginable just a few months ago.
Cyber Liability may be the big sleeper here. According to Gordon, “Cyber liability is huge. There has been a huge uptick in foreign activity on the web. Businesses made conversions in days or a week to a work from home environment, when this should be done gradually, deliberately, systematically. There was no time for that.”
Anyone using a personal family computer to send business docs may have more risk for cyber intrusions. Check with your IT department to be sure that any devices you are now using for business have the proper encryption, protective software and are approved for use by the company. This is especially true if your business routinely involved the use of sensitive personal information such as dates of birth, social security numbers or any other personally identifiable information.
These guideline should apply to all businesses whether you’re solo who has always worked out of your basement or you’re a major employer trying this for the first time. The last thing anyone needs as the economy gets buzzing again is a risk issue that could have been protected.
John P. Napolitano CFP®, CPA is CEO of U.S. Wealth Management in Braintree, MA. Visit JohnPNapolitano on LinkedIn or uswealthnapolitano.com
This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific tax issues with a qualified tax advisor.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. John Napolitano is a registered principal with and securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advice offered through US Financial Advisors, a Registered Investment Advisor. US Financial Advisors and US Wealth Management are separate entities from LPL Financial. He can be reached at 781-849-9200.