Expense advice when working from home.
By Roger Lear
Great Insurance Jobs’ Cofounder Roger Lear is here to help you overcome obstacles to your career and job search. This month, he offers advice on work-from-home situations.
Q: I am considering taking a 100-percent remote position after 18 years in the office. What do I need to know about when it comes to home-office costs, travel expenses, salary negotiation, and anything else that I would need to know before moving forward?
A: Work-from-home jobs in the insurance industry have tripled in just the last five years, and they include claims, nurse case managers, customer service representatives, financial advisors, marketing underwriters, and, account managers—to name a few. This is happening for several reasons. First, insurance companies have invested in world-class enterprise technology that really can “keep tabs” on their home workforce for efficiency and effectiveness. Second, the insurance industry has more workers than ever before (2.7 million), an unemployment rate of two percent, and the need to hire over 400,000 workers in the coming years due to retirements. They have to recruit new workers (Gen Z, millennials) to an industry that is not on the top of many college graduates’ “cool” list of places to work. The investment in recruiting new generations of insurance professionals is a top priority, and the jobs have to fit.
The good news is that if you understand that it is a job seeker’s market when you are considering a work-from-home job, there are many positives to consider. You should be able to negotiate a great package, but you have to do it on the front-end before you accept the offer. Here are some considerations:
Salary. Your work-from-home salary should be precisely the same as anyone sitting in the office. Outside claims professionals have worked at home for years, so most of these jobs already come with a car, great benefits, and a territory. The trend finds that insurance companies are placing inside claims professionals at home. This position should pay the same as an office position. When negotiating, ask the company if there is bonus potential for exceeding caseload management. Claims professionals are finding that they get more claims resolved at home (no distractions), leading to more efficient claims handling and productivity. Don’t fail to negotiate. Working from home saves the employer money. Whatever you do, don’t take a lower salary because you don’t need to pay commuting expenses anymore. Companies may bring this up in the negotiations as a way to justify an average offer. Commuting has nothing to do with the job you are performing.
Cost of office expenses. All insurance companies will cover the costs of everything you need to perform your job. This includes your phone, computer, internet connection, printer, and all office supplies. The only thing you have to consider is the cell phone policy. Most work-from-home positions still use a landline (except outside claims professionals), so you may want to see if you get a reimbursement for your cell phone, as well.
Benefits. You will have the same benefits as anyone else in the company. However, if you are working with an independent adjusting firm, make sure to review the benefits package. As a 1099 worker, most likely you will be on your own for all benefits.
Work-from-home jobs in the insurance industry will continue to grow. Employers love that they can expand their talent pools, work better with the Americans with Disabilities Act, provide employee flexibility, retain employees longer, and increase productivity. However, even with all of these great perks, working at home isn’t for everyone. You really have to decide if you like being independent with very little of the human interaction you would find in an office environment. This is more important than any other decision you will make.
Got a career question for Roger? Email him at Roger@GreatInsuranceJobs.com.