We're spending more time (and money) at home. Should we get insured for that?

By Dan Hatch

7 minutes

07 August 2020

Painting equipment and a cat twirling around a leg

No doubt about it. 2020, the year of the pandemic, has seen some major blowouts.

We all took up baking, and our waistlines blew out. Then we all started working from home and preparing our houses for 24/7 occupation, and our home improvement plans blew out, too.

According to CBA Gareth Aird, there has been a 25% increase in credit card and debit card spending on household furnishings and equipment, including gardening, home renovations and home office fit outs, this year. (Yeah, that figure doesn’t even include toilet paper. Imagine if it did.)

So, Australians have been spending up big, turning our homes into all-in-one castles for work and play. Here’s where we’ve spent on our blowouts (and what it means for your home and contents insurance).

Working from home and the new home office

Analytics firm AlphaBeta have confirmed what all those empty boxes from OfficeWorks and Ikea left out for recycling at the start of lockdown had suggested — Australians spent up big on office furniture and equipment.

They found a 114% increase in normal spending in that area since the pandemic started.

We’ve actually spent more on setting up home offices than any other spending category — which, let’s be honest, is the least fun way to spend money on new stuff for the house. (Find more consumer spending category figures in this handy COVID-19 Economic Impact Real Time Tracking tool.)

But we’re not dumb, either. Google Trends shows searches for “home office” spiked in March and interest is still hovering at around 70% of that peak, with lots of ongoing interest in related searches for “depreciation” and “tax rate”. So, there’s no doubt Australians want to know what sort of tax breaks are available for working-from-home expenses.

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Here’s the kicker though: Even if your company reimbursed you for equipment, furnishings and office supplies, you might not be adequately insured to cover them under your current building and contents cover.

Stimulating home renovations

How good is a government stimulus package?

The $25,000 HomeBuilder grant is just the incentive needed for owner-occupiers to start tearing down walls and putting new ones up.

If you’ve made changes to your house or apartment, with or without a grant, you may want to make sure your building cover is sufficient to cover the new additions.

Working off the pandemic pounds

While a fascination for comfort baking got us through the early days of lockdown, it seems we got a bad case of calorie guilt. There has been a record increase in home exercise equipment sales since the pandemic hit.

The first wave came as soon as gyms closed, but retailers quickly sold out. Now that businesses have restocked, they’re still seeing strong demand from consumers who are keen to stay in shape or regain their pre-pandemic fitness levels.

This equipment can be really expensive, so make sure it’s adequately insured.

Go out and play

Australians have also been investing in pandemic projects, like new swimming pools, tennis courts, outdoor spas and saunas, sheds and garages.

Factor in the normal wear and tear of kids playing in the garden, and it’s probably a great time to think about Accidental Damage Home Insurance to help keep the whole place looking better for longer, both inside and out.

Calculating what you need

Whether you popped for that gourmet oven you’ve always wanted, took the plunge on home exercise equipment, or went all out and built an addition for a new home office, it’s worth looking into whether your current plan gives you sufficient coverage.

HBF has two handy building and contents calculators to help you determine whether your new purchases and investments will have an impact on your insurance.

2020 is the year our homes became not just our castles, but our offices, our gyms and, well, our everything. If you’ve made new purchases or home improvements, make sure you’re adequately covered with building and contents insurance.

Get a quote for home insurance from HBF

Compare the different levels of home contents cover available or give us a call on 133 423. You never know when an accident might happen, and you’ll want to be covered at home when it does.

Compare your cover

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Insurance issued by Insurance Australia Limited ABN 11 000 016 722 AFSL 227681 (IAL), trading as CGU Insurance. For full policy details please refer to theFundamentals Product Disclosure Statement (PDS),Listed Events Product Disclosure Statement (PDS), Accidental Damage Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) and Landlords Insurance Statement (PDS) which can be obtained by calling HBF on 133 423. This is general advice only and does not take into account your personal circumstances. You should consider the PDS and your personal circumstances in deciding whether to buy or hold these products. HBF Health Limited ABN 11 126 884 786 AR No. 406073 (HBF Health), is an authorised representative of IAL. Please read the Financial Services Guide (FSG)before applying for an HBF General Insurance product.