How is insurance cover regulated in the home office? 

Because of the corona virus, more and more German companies are sending their employees to the home office for security reasons. Millions of Germans are suddenly working from home thanks to laptops and smartphones.

For many employees this is something new - which also raises new questions. So far, firmly regulated safeguards that apply to employees in their work at home are unclear.

Because a mishap can quickly happen at home too. But who pays if the employee is injured at work? The answer to that is trickier than many think. Because what many do not know: Different rules apply to the home office than in the office.

Statutory accident insurance makes a strict distinction between private and professional activities, as the Association of the German Insurance Industry explains. Employees are therefore less protected by statutory accident insurance in the home office than in the company. "Insurance coverage when working from home is significantly lower than in the office," warns Rita Reichard, attorney at the North Rhine-Westphalia consumer center.

Fine demarcation

If an employee stumbles in the office on the way to the coffee machine or the water dispenser and is injured, the matter is clear. If the accident happens in the company, the statutory accident insurance takes effect.

It looks different in the home office. There, employees are only legally insured directly at their home workplace or on the way there. Getting coffee in the kitchen is not one of them, as the Nürnberger Versicherung emphasizes. If an employee is injured on the way there, the employer is not liable - but in case of doubt the employee himself.

Even those who hurt themselves on the way to the toilet in the home office are not automatically covered by statutory insurance. At least that's how the Munich Social Court sees it. An employee fell while working from home on the way back from the toilet at home and wanted to claim the fall as an accident at work, which the judges denied (file number: S 40 U 227/18).

According to the judges, the question of whether the activity is closely related to the professional tasks is decisive for insurance cover. The Federal Social Court speaks here of a tendency to act.

Secure evidence

It is therefore important for homeworkers to be able to prove their intention to do something professional in the event of an insurance claim. "I can therefore only give the urgent advice that everyone who has an accident in the home office immediately documents what they have just done, which document they have processed, who they have telephoned with," says lawyer Reichard. It is also important to describe the situation and how the accident happened to someone as soon as possible - this could be the neighbor or the doctor. Because many employees sit alone in the home office.

So what to do Employees who are prepared to spend the next few weeks in the home office and want all-round protection can consider taking out private accident insurance. This policy also covers accidents in leisure time and in the household - and thus also cases of damage that are not covered by the professional associations.