Now more than ever, the home is a bustling multi-use space; a school, the office, the gym, and a place to wind down or host spectacular (socially distanced) garden parties.

Defaqto, a leading financial information, ratings and fintech business that offers unbiased product information, provided as Star Ratings to help consumers make better informed decisions look at what effect (if any) all these changes to our homes have on our home insurance?

Running a business

Running a business in addition to your main job is nothing new but this pandemic has forced many to re-think the way they live and work on a much larger scale.  Spare rooms, kitchen tables and garden sheds around the country have not only become remote workspaces but many have also become the headquarters for a business.

However, these spaces were not designed to be business premises and nor was the insurance that covers them. This could leave budding entrepreneurs out of pocket should the worst happen.

Depending on the business, there may be different considerations you need to take:

Home Cooking

Making food at home and selling it for a profit has increased in lockdown. Unfortunately, this would not be covered under your home insurance and may even invalidate it. A standard policy would not cover any claim arising from the business itself, such as a fire, and would not cover any stock or equipment owned for the business under standard contents insurance.

Crafty Entrepreneurs

There has also been a boom in ‘Etsy entrepreneurs’, arts and crafts-based businesses where the goods are sold online. As with home cooking, a standard insurance policy is unlikely to cover a craft-based business.

Personal Training

Personal trainers and/or fitness instructors will usually have personal liability insurance to cover them for any liability because of their teaching but this will not necessarily extend to their home. Allowing the public into your home or garden for business could invalidate your cover altogether. This applies to customers coming to collect goods too, so it is worth checking what cover you have in place first.

Standard home insurance products are designed to cover your property for domestic use and not as a business, although most will allow you to do office work from home and cover general equipment such as computers, printers etc. However, If you are using your home as a business premises, storing stock or having customers visit, you could invalidate your policy. It is worth discussing any business plans with your insurer to see what cover they can give you.

Keeping the garden and your home safe

With foreign holidays uncertain it has been the year of the ‘garden getaway’.

However, our backyards are less secure than our home, offering little protection from thieves and the elements. Because of this, insurance cover is usually limited, and gardeners could find themselves left out of pocket should something happen.

Here are some top tips to make sure you are covered:

  1. Take steps to make your garden more secure to help deter thieves. It is impossible to stop a determined burglar from breaking in, but security lighting or CCTV will help to put them off. Another tip is to plant prickly hedges and plants around the walls.
  2. Check what you are storing in your shed and make sure you have enough insurance cover for it. One in five policies (20%) covers between £250 and £2,000. Some policies offer cover for the value of items and others cover a percentage of the contents sum insured, so it’s worth checking that you have adequate cover.
  3. Remember to lock your sheds and outbuildings. You are unlikely to be covered by your insurance if you leave your buildings unsecured.
  4. There is little to no insurance for things left out in the open, so try to secure any expensive items in the garden in a shed or outbuilding, such as gas-fired barbecues and patio heaters. Put your postcode on expensive items and that way you are more likely to get them back if they are taken.
  5. Check your fences and repair or replace them as they wear. Most home insurance policies don’t cover fences damaged by storms, so it is wise to keep them in good repair to limit storm damage. Keeping your fences in good repair will also help keep your garden secure.
  6. If you have a hot tub that is not built-in, take care that you place it on a flat surface where it can’t be damaged by sharp edges. Remember that any water damage to your home because of a leak from your hot tub may not be covered on your home insurance.

Insurance policies that cover gardens will usually include loss or damage caused by fire or theft but will often exclude damage by storm or flood. When it comes to fences, walls, gates and hedges, gardeners and homeowners may well find themselves footing the bill for damage to these garden boundaries.  Most policies will only provide cover if they are damaged by a flying or falling object such as falling branches or trees.  They will not be covered should the damage be caused by storm, flood or frost.