Home insurance for business use
Working from home can affect the terms of your home insurance. One aspect of starting a business from home which can have a big impact on you and your premium is whether you employ any staff or have visitors to the property.
When you take out a home insurance quote, you will be asked how you use the property and when it is usually occupied. You might find that your premium is lowered by working from home as the house is occupied during the day, and the risk of burglary is reduced. Or you might find that your premium increases to provide enough protection for office equipment and stock kept at the house.
For peace of mind, we recommend specifying whether you use personal possessions for work and whether they are taken outside of the house too. This is often the case with laptops and mobile phones.
Identify the risks in your business
It’s important to declare how your home is used in relation to your business so that you are fully covered in the event of a claim. Particularly in relation to other people on the premises.
Legitimate work at home businesses should mitigate the risks in the workplace, starting with a risk assessment. This involves identifying potential hazards and implementing measures to reduce those risks, such as emergency procedures and first aid. In UK law, you must create a written plan if you have more than five employees.
Health and safety risks relevant to your business
There are a large number of threats to visitors and staff in any business. Business owners need only plan for what is reasonably practical, since you cannot foresee every risk or incident.
Key areas to pay attention to:
Handling – Perhaps a less obvious risk but certainly a key one to be aware of is manual handling, particularly for businesses shipping goods. Make sure there is sufficient storage space to prevent trips and falls, and reduce the likelihood of someone needing to manually lift heavy items. Reduce the odds of hand-arm vibration syndrome by providing suitable tools. If your work is mainly administrative, take regular breaks to avoid causing repetitive strain injury.
Electrical – Electricity can cause serious harm and even death. Take adequate precautions when working with electrical equipment. Keep visitors away from work areas where there are live parts.
Fire – You must ensure that a full fire risk assessment takes place to identify sources which could cause a fire, stock or furnishings that could fuel a fire, and keep exits unobstructed. Like landlords, you might even install fire safety doors in your home.
Gas – If you work with gas and chemicals, make sure that they are properly installed and maintained. Even in a domestic property, you must have a qualified engineer on the Gas Safe Register carry out any work on gas appliances.
Substances – Harmful substances can be a hazard of the trade, including glue, paints, cleaning agents, dust, allergens or known perils like asbestos. You should limit how visitors to your property could be exposed. Protective clothing should also be provided if necessary.
Machinery and equipment – As well as safety and maintenance regulations for staff, you should identify areas where guests or customers might come into contact with business tools or equipment kept at your property. Make them aware of the risks and keep domestic and business areas of the house separate.
Noise pollution – The nature of your work might mean that noisy machines are used. Childminders might experience noisy workplaces too! Whatever the situation, it’s important to manage noise levels as they can damage your hearing, and stop you being alerted by alarms. It’s also considerate for your neighbours.
Psychology – Stress, loneliness and depression are just as detrimental to your wellbeing as a physical injury. Pay attention to yourself and your staff because this type of health hazard can be a lot harder to identify.
Even as a sole trader, you should take steps to make your home business a safer workplace for yourself and for visitors. You might even be required to prove this with trading licences for inspectors, depending on the type of business you operate from home.
As a home business owner, you have a duty of care to those that visit your premises, including paying guests and staff. You must ensure that you take appropriate preventative steps to protect them from foreseeable risks. Public liability cover can protect you and your business against accidents and injuries.