Is insurance available for home-based businesses?

Written by the Square One team

Reviewed by Daniel Mirkovic

Updated July 16, 2024 | Published November 21, 2011

Perhaps you’re operating a small business out of your home, or maybe you’ve decided to start one in the future. You probably have a long “to do” list, but one critical item should be contacting your insurance provider. To understand why this is of the utmost importance, continue reading below.

A man working in front of his desk at home

The important points

  • Home insurance covers some home business activities, but any form of home business must be discussed with the provider beforehand.
  • Business property, business interruption, and liability are common elements of home business insurance.
  • Home business insurance from Square One allows you to customize which areas of your business you’d like to insure.

What risks should you consider?

  • There could be damage, such as fire, water, or windstorm to your home, which also damages your business property. Remember, home insurance covers only your personal property, not your business property, so you could be stuck replacing your desk, filing cabinets, computers and more, all out of your own pocket.

  • What if your home is so badly damaged that it’s going to take a month or more to repair? Are you able to run your business from your hotel room? If not, then you’re not going to be making any money during this time. Can you handle this loss of income?

  • Do you have any stock or goods held for sale? If so, then all of these will be excluded from ordinary home insurance policies. You need special protection for stock and goods.

  • What if a customer comes to your house, falls down the stairs, and sues you for their injuries? Will a home insurance policy respond? If the customer was there for business purposes, or if the home is used for any business purposes without your insurance provider’s permission, then your policy won’t protect you. Remember, home insurance policies are not designed or priced to cover the extra risks involved with home businesses.

  • Maybe you have an employee working for you, and she takes her car to Costco to pick up some supplies. What if she’s in an accident on the way, and injures a third party? It’s quite likely that not only will she be sued as the driver, but you’ll be sued as well, since she was your employee, using her automobile for your business.

What coverage might you need?

Be sure to discuss your home business operations with your insurance provider. They can let you know what is and is not covered by your home policy. Often, optional extra coverage can be added to a home insurance policy in order to protect a home-based business. In some cases, depending on the type of business, you may need to also contact a commercial broker for broader coverage.

Here are a few common elements of business insurance coverage:

  • Business property: Your home policy likely provides a limited amount of coverage for business property, to cover such things as a desk or computer. You want to make sure your business property is insured to its replacement cost, not its depreciated value. Also, if you want stock or goods held for sale to be covered, you’ll need to purchase extra insurance.

  • Business interruption: Your home insurance policy will probably not contain any protection for you if your income is interrupted as a result of damage to your home. This is a form of business insurance that is readily available, and is very important, particularly if this is your sole source of income. Some home insurance policies may be able to add this coverage, or you may need to speak to a commercial broker.

  • Liability: So many issues arise here. We talked about how you can be sued if someone slips on your steps, but what if they’re injured using a product you created? Non-owned auto liability is important if your employees are using their vehicles for your business. Personal Injury insurance is available for things such as slander or libel. Professional Liability insurance is absolutely essential if you work in a capacity that could harm other people; for example, if you’re a hairdresser, and accidentally burn someone’s head with perm solution.

For many of these unique business exposures, you may need to see a commercial insurance provider to discuss the best way to protect yourself.

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How does Square One assist customers with home-based businesses?

At Square One, our focus is to meet your personal insurance needs. While certain types of home businesses have some level of coverage under our standard home insurance policies, we also offer the only customizable home business coverage in Canada, which you can add to your existing home insurance policy or buy as a stand-alone policy.

Square One’s home business insurance lets you select which areas of your business you’d like to insure. That includes coverage options like business property, business interruption, and liability.

You can visit this page to read all about our home business insurance.

Otherwise, our standard policies can accommodate some home businesses. During the quote process, we’ll ask a few questions on the subject, like:

  • Does your business involve the application of fire or heat? This could mean baking, welding, operating a kiln.

  • Does your business involve the use of specialized tools or flammable materials to make or repair goods? This refers to things like carpentry tools or acetylene torches. Specialized tools can be very expensive to replace. Policies generally provide a limited amount of coverage for tools, and no coverage if something happens to them away from home.

  • Are you operating a daycare? It goes without saying that there are major risks associated with caring for other people’s children in your home: choking, falling off a swing, food poisoning, and many more. Few home insurance policies will properly protect you if you are operating a daycare, so be sure to contact a commercial insurance provider.

  • Does this business employ people that work from your home? Do you receive more than 5 customer or supplier visits per week? You may need to carry commercial liability insurance to protect you if your customer, or your employee, slips and falls.

If the answer is yes to any of these questions, then our standard home insurance policy likely won’t be right for your home. Our coverage is designed primarily for personal residential exposures, and may not protect you properly if you operate a home-based business.

Want to learn more? Visit our Home Insurance Basics resource centre for dozens of helpful articles to guide you through the ins and outs of home insurance. Or, get an online quote in under 5 minutes and find out how affordable personalized home insurance can be.

About the expert: Daniel Mirkovic

A co-founder of Square One with 25 years of experience in the insurance industry, Daniel was previously vice president of the insurance and travel divisions at the British Columbia Automobile Association. Daniel has a bachelor of commerce and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia. He holds a Canadian Accredited Insurance Broker (CAIB) designation and a general insurance license level 3 in BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario.


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