Better Safe

Mail, Insurance And Other Matters

Between the yard and the windows of Carmen Hiers' home is a thick hedge edging the entire perimeter of the structure. Other homebased entrepreneurs plant thorny vines or plants beneath windows to prevent access from outside.

While the hedge helps keep the uninvited away, truth be told, Hiers rarely invites anyone to her home office. Instead, the marketing communications specialist and owner of The Solmar Group Inc. prefers the safest route-working from the offices of clients, such as Discovery Networks Latin America/Iberia or ad.vice, a television and marketing consultancy.

Hiers also has an account at a local Mail Boxes Etc. She receives all mail and parcels there, and the postal company's address replaces her home address on all letterhead. Even with new U.S. Postal Service regulations requiring that PMB (for "private mailbox") be used to denote use of a private facility, Hiers plans to continue using her postal box.

Her defense mechanisms serve multiple purposes. "I've always made it a practice not to meet clients at home-not only because people tend not to take you as seriously, but also to avoid any complications associated with having people I don't know very well know I live by myself," she says. "As it is, I don't feel comfortable having delivery people figure out that I'm a woman living alone."

Linda Greck chose another route for her mailing address. Instead of redirecting her mail to a local mailing service, Greck instead put "Suite 100" on stationery for MediaMatters, her public relations firm. Greck wasn't as concerned about hiding her residence as she was about presenting a professional image for her limited client base.

It's just another insurance policy, like the business rider Greck added to her homeowners' policy to cover her home-office equipment-items she says are typically not covered by traditional homeowners' or renters' property or personal liability policies. "I don't want a Mail Boxes Etc. address in case that owner decides to close or relocate," she says. "The bottom line is that my home is where I conduct business. So my office becomes 'Suite 100' at my home address."

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