• Advice, Finance

Everything freelancers need to know about liability insurance

You’ve taken on a high-pressure, high-priority project for a notoriously demanding client. Things are looking good… but at the last minute there’s an equipment failure and the project is unequivocally ruined.

Now what? There will likely be a legal case, even though it wasn’t your fault. Your client might take you to court. And you’ll have to pay tens-- or hundreds-- of thousands of dollars in fees and damages.

Don’t let that happen to you: consider liability insurance.

As a freelancer, liability insurance can mean protection against paying tens of thousands of dollars in damages to a client -- whether or not it was your fault. Plus, many contracts require that freelancers have liability insurance, so it’s always a smart thing to have.

Liability insurance is about the price of a cheap dinner for 2: Freelancers Union’s plans through Hiscox start at just $22.50/month. Get a quote here.

For those who don’t know us, Freelancers Union is the nation’s largest non-profit representing the independent workforce. We’ve been advocating for freelance workers for over 20 years and we’ve been helping freelancers get benefits for over ten of them. You can check out the liability insurance plans we offer through our benefits.

Why do I need liability insurance?

Most freelancers get liability insurance when they want work from a client that requires it. So if you’re in that camp: if you want the gig, you need the insurance.

But it’s also just a good thing to have, especially if you’re in IT consulting, photography, or another field where there’s a high potential for costly mistakes that are out of your control. Liability insurance protects you from bearing the financial burden of a lawsuit or other claim.

For instance, your camera’s SD card stopped working during a wedding shoot? The angry bride will probably take you to small claims court, even though it wasn’t your “fault.” Built a website that gets hacked or breaks down on their biggest sale day of the year? You’re going to be super glad you have liability insurance to protect your business. It could mean the difference between shutting your doors or having an insurer take care of the claim.

In short, if you’re a freelancer with big-ticket projects or a small business owner, you need liability insurance! You’re great, but mistakes happen. Protect yourself.

My projects aren't that important. Why would I get sued?

Liability insurance is something that freelancers often forget about. They might think that their projects aren’t big enough or high-risk enough to warrant major legal protection. But freelancers are often in charge of complex, important projects that their clients don’t fully understand, and legal cases can arise out of the smallest things. Liability insurance is particularly important to those working as consultants, where incorrect advice or failure to perform professional services could lead to a lawsuit.

How does it work?

Liability insurance can provide protection from the high costs of lawsuits or other claims. The policy limit on your insurance plan is the amount that you’re covered for. In the event of a lawsuit, your insurance company will defend you and pay up to the policy amount, including legal costs and any payouts that might ensue for any covered claims.

Some plans and companies differ regarding what kinds of events they’ll cover, and the extent of that coverage. For example, if you have a small business, some plans will cover the actions of temporary workers, while others will only cover employees.

Depending on your industry, your liability insurance plan will have coverage for different types of claims. Say you’re a restaurateur -- you’ll want coverage in the event that someone gets food poisoning, but you probably don’t need coverage for copyright infringement. Meanwhile, if you’re in IT or another sector, your needs will be different.

Most contracts require at least $1,000,000 in general liability insurance coverage; our partner Hiscox offers a policy limit of up to $2,000,000 in most cases. If a contract requires more than that, you can also negotiate with your insurance provider.

What are my options?

There are many kinds of liability insurance, but the two most common are professional and general.

Professional liability insurance, also known as errors and omissions (E&O) insurance, protects you and your business from claims regarding negligent performance of your professional services.

General liability insurance (CGL or GL insurance) protects your business from third party claims for bodily injury, associated medical costs and damage to someone else’s property.

Depending on your sector of business, you may want to get professional liability insurance, general liability insurance, or both. When you go through the quote process, they’ll ask you what industry you’re in, and give their recommendations of what might best meet your needs.

Do I really need this?

Why take a risk when you can protect yourself against it? If you’re concerned about costs, Freelancers Union can help you get a plan designed especially for freelancers, with monthly payment options to help manage your cash flow.

Protect your finances, your reputation, and your business. Check out our liability insurance plans and the rest of benefits here.

Freelancers Union, Inc. (FU) is not a licensed insurance agent. Freelancers Insurance Agency, a wholly owned affiliate of FU, is a licensed producer in the lines of Professional Liability, Commercial General Liability and Business Owners Policy in New York, Pennsylvania, California and New Jersey only. Freelancers Insurance Agency (FIA) contracts with Hiscox Inc., a nationally licensed insurance producer. Other than New York, Pennsylvania, California and New Jersey, Hiscox is acting as the insurance agent of record. You should consider your needs when selecting products. FU does not make specific product recommendations for individuals. Each insurer has sole responsibility for its products.

The information on this Website about insurance benefits is a summary of applicable terms and conditions that is provided for general informational purposes only. The terms of any insurance products are governed solely by the applicable Member Contract or Policy Form. In the event of any inconsistency between information provided on this Website and the specifics provisions of the Member Contract provided by the carrier, the carrier's Contract shall govern.

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