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, Author: Craig Fuher

Accounting for Insurance Risk With Remote/Hybrid Work

Accounting for insurance risk with remote/hybrid work means workplace policies will change. Insurance policies need change with them. Companies have utilized employees working in locations outside their office. Embracing remote and hybrid work means a mix of employees in person and at home. They may have to account for new risks. 

These changes may not just be temporary, pandemic-related shifts. Like the Gallup project, many companies appear likely to use at least some level of remote or hybrid work for the foreseeable future. As a result, companies will need to adjust their insurance policies. This could involve changing the terms of their coverage or even adding new lines of coverage to meet new risks. 

“To date, commercial policies generally have been written based on the premise that the policyholder’s employees mostly work in company offices; in a remote workforce world, many policy terms will no longer match that risk profile,” notes law firm Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman.

Insurance agents should consider working with clients to review their insurance policies. Approaching policies through a “remote and hybrid” lense can help inform decisions. This will provide a better service to customers by matching them with policies that fit their new risk profiles. Better service can lead to better customer retention

Taking the time and care with each customer can also lead directly to new business. Potentially leading to opportunities to add policies or expand their existing amount of coverage. 

In this article, we’ll explore how clients’ risks may change due to remote/hybrid work. With the right approach insurance agents can help businesses meet these new challenges.

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A key part of helping your clients assess their insurance risk is reviewing the workplace policies they currently have. Compare their work and insurance policies and where they overlap. Factor in whether employees use a mix of working from home and the office. Is that split based on employee preference? The insurance choices and risk management could look different.

Specifically, insurance agents should help clients think about areas like:

Insurance Eligibility Policies

Previous policies might not provide the coverage that organizations need in a remote or hybrid environment.

For example, an employee moves out of state during the pandemic. They have decided to continue remotely for the same employer. The previous insurance coverage might no longer apply. The University of Washington notes workers’ compensation policies still cover remote employees. The language is “for job-related injuries that occur in the course and scope of employment. However, employees who work outside of Washington are not covered by Washington State Department of Labor & Industries Workers’ Compensation industrial insurance.”

You also may want to help clients review their property and casualty insurance to see what is and isn’t covered when employees are away from the main office.

Safety Policies

Insurance agents can help organizations by taking a closer look at their current policies. They also may want to review safety and risk management practices. This way you can see what might need to be adjusted to fit with remote/hybrid work. It might be necessary to meet certain policy requirements, and it can also potentially help limit risk.

Companies might have to issue new workplace safety rules for employees working when outside the main office. “These might include guidelines for time reporting, compliance with management practices, designated work areas and use of equipment such as a computer and printer. The hope is that such policies will help to keep the remote worker from sustaining injuries,” notes Christensen Law Office.

Facing New Risks

Even with a smooth transition to remote/hybrid, there could be some unaddressed risks. Step one is reviewing a client’s workplace policies against their insurance coverage. Step two is helping clients from a risk-reduction standpoint. 

That can involve suggesting policies that could limit the financial fallout from new risks. It also might involve suggesting best practices based on what other clients have done. Insurance agents might even help clients network with one another to share advice on facing new risks.

Clients might face an increase in cyber risk as a result of remote/hybrid work. More interactions take place online. Employees will need to access company files remotely. This opens up new possibilities for security breaches and cyber related crime. Potentially a loss of sensitive information or worse.

Policies For The Future

As such, clients may want to implement new policies. Rules around what devices employees should use when working outside the office. They also may want to review how different types of cyber insurance can help reduce financial risk.

Clients may want to look closer at areas like personal injury. “It’s still up to the employer to identify any potential hazards that may come with remote work and to be responsible for implementing measures to control and mitigate risk…Many companies are already drawing up specific regulations, subsidies, and inspection procedures for the home offices of their remote workforce,” notes the Consumer Education Council.

There can also be new types of risks or new levels of risk based on how employee and customer patterns are changing.

Because of employees interacting less in person, a business owner might decide to host annual employee retreats. Those could carry their own risks and insurance needs. Employees who work from home might end up traveling to their customers. This way they’re not bringing clients to a relatively empty company office. As such, there could potentially be new travel-related risks that companies need to account for.

Go Deeper With Current Clients

Insurance agents have an opportunity to help with the new risks clients may face. Whatever their workplace policies may be, insurance agents should meet with current clients to discuss their remote/hybrid work choices.  Together you can review their existing insurance coverage. 

Helping clients assess their insurance risk with new remote and hybrid work will help build a deeper relationship. It’s a great way to grow your business as a whole. You can improve retention to build a strong baseline of revenue. Then increase sales through additional policy lines sold to current customers. From there you’re hopefully looking at expansions of coverage, referrals from satisfied clients, and more.

Even if clients don’t currently need to make any changes to their insurance policies amidst remote/hybrid work changes, meeting with clients to discuss how their workplaces are evolving could provide good opportunities to show clients how you can be a resource for them and help you build stronger client relationships over time.