The homeworker revolution has well and truly taken hold in this country. The number has hit record levels in the UK: there are 4.2 million homeworkers, or around 14% of the workforce, according to government statistics. Of these around 1.5 million work exclusively from home. There are plenty of advantages to basing your business at home, but there are some issues you need to think about too.
It is so much cheaper and easier to run your small business from your house, particularly when you’re starting out. You don’t have the extra costs involved in hiring workspace, it slashes your commute (to zero), and you don’t need to worry about who looks after the dog while you’re at work.
It couldn’t be simpler, whether you run a consultancy from your spare bedroom, a catering business from your kitchen or a beauty therapy firm from your living room.
But, you shouldn’t necessarily think because you run your business from home that any mishap that may occur would be covered under your homeowners’ insurance policy. Some comprehensive home insurance policies may cover some business-related claims, but many won’t, so it’s worth running through your policy with a fine-tooth comb.
You might discover that, even though your policy does cover business claims, the level of protection it provides may not be sufficient for your needs. In which case, you should think about buying public liability insurance if clients come to your home.
Business risks at home
As soon as a client enters your house then you could be liable if anything untoward happens to them. They might not even cross the threshold. If they trip and injure themselves on that cracked front step you’ve been meaning to get fixed for ages then they might have a claim against you.
Or let’s say a prospective customer of your marketing business comes round to view some of your past projects. They unwittingly leave their laptop on your electric hob, and are only alerted to the fact that it is still hot by the smell of burning plastic overcomes the aroma from your coffee pot.
A thousand pounds worth of electronic equipment has gone up in smoke (literally), as well as all the important business data that was held on it. You might say it was their own fault, but you may well be liable for replacing it.
Beware of the deliveryman
The injury doesn’t even need to occur to one of your customers. A number of homeworker claims involve delivery people. So, for example, if the van driver bringing your boxes of marketing flyers trips over the telephone wire in your front hallway and fractures his hand, preventing him from working for weeks, then you have a potential claim on your hands.
There are many benefits of working from home, but you need to be aware that there could be drawbacks to blurring the line between your domestic and work lives beyond having your child pick up the phone to your biggest client.
If an accident involving someone else occurs at your house in the course of your business then you may not be covered under your homeowners’ insurance policy. Your home may be private but your liability, in the event of a work-related mishap, can be uncomfortably public.