January 6, 2023
4 minutes

Telecommuting: the new challenges for insurers

Insurance companies are thinking about new products with telecommuting to fill gaps in coverage for employees working from home

Telecommuting: the new challenges for insurers

Insurance companies are thinking about new products to fill the gaps left by the rise of telecommuting. Some situations fall into the "gray area" of coverage for employees working from home.

The insurance challenges of teleworking

Telecommuting opens the door to a lot of situations that can't happen when the employee works from the office. 

"At home, one is not necessarily totally dedicated to one's work and this brings new problems" says Michael Krakovich, insurance broker.

The first area of uncertainty is that of accidents that occur while teleworking and are not related to the work activity. For example, if an office manager is injured while pruning his rosebush during working hours, it will not be an accident at work because the event is unrelated to the professional activity. 

"The person will eventually be covered by a GAV, life accident coverage, if they have purchased it, but that's not always the case."

It is typically for this kind of situation that it would be judicious to develop an insurance product that would cover the new situations brought about by telework.

Another question is the coverage of the children of the telecommuting employee:

There is an insurance gap regarding the protection of the family present at home during the telecommuting hours, we do not know exactly how the children or the spouse are insured if something happens to them" continues the expert. 

Here too, the life accident guarantee will be effective if the person concerned has subscribed to it, but these situations can nevertheless create disputes:

"if the child has an accident while being cared for by a parent who lacks vigilance because he or she is working, the employer can find itself in a complicated situation and be blamed by the employee."

Over-occupancy of telecommuting units

In addition, the rise of telecommuting is causing over-occupation of homes that are normally vacant during working hours. The fact of being at home more often, and therefore using household appliances more often, multiplies the risks of damage - fire, water damage, etc. The problem is that insurance premiums - calculated on the basis of the occupancy rate of the dwelling - are now too low to cover these more frequent claims.

The same is true for second homes, some of which are much more occupied since the health crisis. 

"Second home insurance policies are supposed to cover a risk there, too, related to the "frequency of habitation" of the home, so being there more implies more risk of claims."

For insurers, the question arises of formulating extensions of coverage in insurance contracts, which will inevitably increase the cost of home insurance. 

Who will have to pay for the surplus? Employers or employees? 

Logically, companies should pay part of the cost, especially since companies with flexible teleworking policies often reduce their real estate costs. The savings in this area are considerable when you consider that it costs 10,000 to 20,000 euros per year per employee to seat an employee at a workstation.

"The insurance world is bracing for an influx of cases related to these new situations brought on by telecommuting: a lack of coverage for home-based workers, more claims because homes are more occupied, and premiums that are too low to cover those claims," Michael continues.

In addition to issues related to domestic accidents, another issue is driving insurers: the health of teleworking employees and the psycho-social risks related to remote working. The reason is the explosion of burn-out cases due to the isolation of employees working remotely: the figure has risen by 25% since last May.

While there is no debate about stopping work in these situations, psychological assistance for the employee is not systematic. 

"Ideally, this type of care should be included in a new insurance product" which would include psychological assistance services.

The idea of integrating dietary consultations is also gaining ground. 

"Employees observe a less healthy diet at home, some gain weight while telecommuting due to snacking, telecommuting changes eating habits."

These are all situations that could justify the creation of new insurance products aimed at filling in the blurred situations brought about by the hybridization of work.

Offishall Care is the first insurance that prevents AND covers the risks associated with telecommuting.

Charles Helliet

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