26/03/2014

By Amy Cartwright, AXA Business Insurance

Ever considered running your business out of your home? If you’ve ever stewed in rush-hour traffic or fumed at sky-high rental prices – the answer is probably yes. And it’s not a bad idea. Last week, we published a new report on home businesses in the UK which revealed that something extraordinary is happening.
Far from being left on the sofa, it seems that home businesses are now the new force in our economy. Altogether, 70% of all new businesses are now started at home. And when we asked these ‘homepreneurs’ how they’re doing – most said they’re confident of higher turnover this year, and just over a third are now actually outsourcing work too.

What about the practicalities?

Information and communications

You’ll need to have the right technology, right security and right cover in place.

Right technology. You’ll rely heavily on your internet connection to access shared files through VPN, communicate and promote yourself. Make sure you’re on a broadband contract that guarantees availability. Ask your supplier what happens if the connection goes down? Do you have a guaranteed minimum bandwidth?

Right security. Make sure you have antivirus software installed and fully updated not just on your main computer, but on all devices you connect to – tablets, laptops and smartphones. Review all your passwords and ensure they’re unique for each instance and strong enough.

A new government website offers a quick guide to securing your information properly. You should also check the ICO’s guidance on fulfilling your responsibilities under the Data Protection Act. It’s worth a few minutes of reading – fines for failing to protect customers’ personal data can go up to £500,000.

Right cover. If you have professional indemnity insurance, it’s also worth considering optional extras that cover you for things like:

• Breach of confidentiality – accidentally leaking information in conversation or by losing documents
• Legal expenses – for legal costs related to data protection law, as well as things like tax, VAT, health and safety or employment law

Insuring property and equipment

Give your insurance company a call. If you’ve only had normal home insurance to date, it’s unlikely to cover your property now it’s being used as a workplace. Once your insurer knows about it, they can adjust your policy accordingly or give you a more suitable quote.

Your contents policy is also unlikely to cover the computing, catering or specialist equipment you need for business. Once again, you’ll need to talk to your insurer to make sure you can claim if these vital items are lost or damaged.

Meetings and visitors

If clients or business associates will be visiting the property, you also need to think about having well-maintained areas for receiving them. That’s not only about projecting a professional image; it’s also about fulfilling your responsibility to keep people safe on your property. It’s also recommended to take out a public liability insurance policy to cover you for injury claims.

The legal bit
There are also a number of tax and legal issues associated with running your business from home. Make sure you’ve got everything covered with this legal checklist for home-based businesses.

AXA Business Insurance specialises in protecting and supporting businesses of all shapes and sizes. We understand that surviving and thriving through the years takes a lot. That’s why we’re committed to providing tailored policies, as well as free information and expert guidance on Business Guardian Angel.

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