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What you need to know about remote working risks

Insureon Staff.
By Insureon Staff
April 2, 2020
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Learn what your workers’ compensation, cyber liability, and commercial property insurance policies cover when employees telecommute.
Young woman on couch working on a laptop

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has suddenly turned working from home from a privilege to a necessity.

While you’re helping keep employees healthy and productive (and employed), you must also consider the potential liability of remote work.

From a safety perspective, you need to know:

  • what your business insurance covers when employees are working remotely, and
  • how to ensure you’re protected against losses from worker injuries, data breaches, business property damage, and more.

Let’s review some of the biggest risks of stay-at-home workers, and how to guard against them.

What if an employee is injured or gets sick while working from home?

Most states require businesses with employees to carry workers’ compensation insurance. This policy covers lost wages and medical bills for employees who are injured or become ill on the job. It also covers lawsuit costs if an injured employee sues your business.

While workers’ comp laws vary by state, the insurance generally covers telecommuters. If a remote employee is injured at home and files a claim, they must prove that the incident occurred during business hours while performing work duties.

It’s unlikely a remote employee who contracts COVID-19 could prove they became ill because of their job. But If you have a coronavirus-related claim, call your insurance agent to verify workers’ comp laws in your geographic area and the terms of your policy.

These guidelines may not apply to every person working from home for your business. Contractors (1099 workers) and freelancers are not eligible for benefits under your workers’ compensation policy.

How to protect remote workers from cyberattacks and data breaches

Nearly 90% of IT leaders feel that virtual employees may not be secure working from their home network. Their pessimism is justified.

When employees work from home, the threat of cyberattacks and data breaches skyrockets. To protect your business and remote workers from cyberattacks like hacking, malware, or phishing, make sure employees:

  • access company applications and resources through an encrypted virtual private network (VPN)
  • have updated antivirus and firewall software on their computers
  • use strong passwords and regularly change them
  • lock their computers and mobile devices when they take breaks
  • know how to identify and avoid phishing attempts and other scams

You can also consider password managers or SSO (single sign-on) software across your company to authenticate users and reduce vulnerabilities.

How to minimize losses if your company is the victim of a cyberattack

If a malicious software attack or data breach does occur on a remote employee’s work computer, cyber liability insurance will cover the damages.

This insurance comes in two varieties:

  • First-party cyber liability insurance covers damages from a data breach on your own systems. This includes the costs of notifying affected customers and paying for credit and fraud monitoring.
  • Third-party cyber liability insurance provides protection when a data breach compromises your clients’ systems and information. The coverage applies whether it happens at your place of business or remotely. If a client sues your business over a data breach, third-party cyber liability insurance will pay for attorney's fees, court costs, and any damages.

For IT businesses, most insurance providers will bundle both types of cyber liability policies with technology errors and omissions insurance.

Commercial property insurance may not cover remote business assets

If you have equipment, inventory, or other assets you want to protect, having commercial property insurance is a must. This coverage reimburses you for business property that is lost, damaged, or stolen from your office.

But does this policy cover items as you and your workers make the transition to remote work? It depends.

Many remote employees aren’t covered while working from home. Standard commercial property insurance generally covers property that is on the premises of your office or facility. But it may exclude or significantly reduce coverage for property away from the office.

Double-check that your commercial property insurance covers business property used off-site by remote workers. An employee’s homeowner’s insurance policy typically won’t pay to replace a business-owned laptop that was stolen or damaged outside the office.

Ensure you have the right insurance for employees, data, and equipment

As you adjust to shelter-in-place and stay-at-home orders to prevent the spread of COVID-19, you may need to adapt to remote work for the long haul.

Talk to your insurance agent to make sure you have the proper coverage to protect against telecommuting risks. Having to pay out of pocket for uncovered losses will only cause your business more financial hardship down the line.

 

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