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July 22, 2020

Home insurance will need to adapt to COVID-19

By GlobalData Financial

Coronavirus has forced people to stay in their homes for larger portions of the day. This has changed the risk faced by insurers, and home insurance products and pricing will need to change as a result of COVID-19.

With individuals spending more time in their home, there is less chance for them to be a victim of theft or burglary. Escape of water, the highest cost to home insurers, is also less of a risk, as residents are able to notice any incidents before they get out of hand. But with people spending more time in the house, the risk of accidental damage has increased.

According to Zurich, claims for flat-screen TVs have increased by 22% since lockdown began. Accidental damage to glass increased by 57%. Continued remote working will help to maintain these trends even as the lockdown restrictions ease.

According to Verdict, 27% of its website poll respondents want to work from home permanently, while 46% would prefer a mix of home and office working. 27% of respondents wanted to return to the office full-time.

With such a large proportion of individuals wanting to work remotely either full-time or partially after COVID-19, the changing home risk associated with lockdown will remain. Furthermore, during the lockdown, home insurers were expected to be lenient with customers so that working from home would not affect their cover. For office workers, this should not change, but if individuals receive visitors at their home for work purposes, they would need to alert their insurer.

Working from home also opens employees up to other risks. Many homes will not have suitable workstations, increasing the risk of ergonomic and postural injuries. Working from home continuously will also limit social interactions, putting an increased strain on employees’ mental health. Already, the industry is reacting to this shifting risk. For example, Chubb has launched Work from Home insurance for the Asia Pacific region. It includes cover for postural strains and injuries and mental health support and provides disability payments for accidental slips.

Once the risks associated with remote working become clearer, more insurers will release products to cater to this growing group of individuals, so that businesses can keep their employees healthy and well protected. Home insurance premiums will also be affected. However, insurers will need more data to ascertain whether the decreased cost of theft and escape of water outweighs the increased costs of home accidents.

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