By Jimmy Williams, is the CEO of Insurtech Urban Jungle , which provides insurance to generation rent and millennials. Since founding the business in 2016, the company has grown to 23 staff, amassed over 20,000 customers and raised £7.8m in funding from private investors and VCs. Urban Jungle is also one of the UK’s top-rated insurers, scoring 4.8 out of 5 on TrustPilot.
More and more people are working from home (WFH). It’s a trend that’s been growing for years, with higher and higher numbers of self-employed people and remote workers. This trend rapidly accelerated during 2020 as a result of lockdown and, love it or loathe it, it looks as though the change to home working is here to stay.
Working from home affects our daily lives in all kinds of ways, and a lot can be learned from the misfortunes and mishaps we suffer. As an insurer, Urban Jungle hears about many of them, and how they are altering over time, from the broken and lost items to the unfortunate acts of theft that sometimes affect our customers. During lockdown, stark differences emerged that showed just how much life was changing.
Of course, people have clearly been working from home (WFH) far more and staying in more of the time, generally. But, even if you managed to not watch the news for the past year, you could still tell something had changed very significantly if you saw the kind of insurance claims we received.
From spilling tea on laptops to knocking over the telly, here are the insights we’ve gained into the hidden costs – as well as two notable hidden financial benefits – of home working.
There was an increase in water damage
There’s no doubt about it, a lot more drinks were knocked over during lockdown. We were all staying in, more watching TV or perusing the web and, whoops, a teacup went over. Water damage to laptops was one of our main claims during this period, with claims increasing 134% compared to pre-lockdown. The figures for this type of accident remain fairly high as people keep working from home.
Televisions fared poorly
The kids were off school and needed to burn off some energy, which many did by running around the house. Inevitably, things got bumped into and, often enough, that was a TV set. Urban Jungle saw an increase in things being knocked over – specifically the telly, with TV damage claims increasing 85% compared to pre-lockdown.
Phones stayed with their owners
We were staying in more and therefore were less likely to lose things. In normal times, we tend to get a fair number of claims for lost mobiles. However, we saw these numbers drop. So, when you asked someone to ring your phone to help you find it, chances are it was still in the house.
We saw fewer break-ins
This is one area we saw a positive change in claims as a result of people staying home a lot more. Thankfully, there were fewer break-ins and burglaries during lockdown, as many would-be thieves were likely put off attempting a burglary while we stayed at home. Or perhaps they just wanted to maintain social distancing?
Bike thefts went up
Alongside the move to home working, there’s also been a boom in cycling this year as people avoided public transport, and it is great to keep in shape. Sadly, we did see a rise in bike thefts as lockdown measures started to ease, with bike theft claims increasing 160% post-lockdown. Do check out our information on keeping your bike safe (https://explore.myurbanjungle.com/blog/bicycle-insurance-comparison-guide/). Thieves know a lot about bikes, but there are ways to deter them. These include avoiding leaving your bike out overnight, parking it in well-lit locations, preferably with CCTV, and always remembering to lock it up.
Home working kits became costly
As WFH became more common, we saw a growth in expensive laptops – those worth more than £2000 – being used. It seems that this essential item is one people are more willing or feel they need to invest in. There has also been an 80% rise in people using Macbooks, which suggests there’s been a lot of creative work going on with home workers.
Your WFH kit may include valuable laptops, as well as mobiles, printers and other devices. As we’ve seen, home working means these items are more likely to be expensive, so you may want to look into insurance, or check your existing insurance covers them when you are WFH.