Why freelance writers (really) need liability insurance

Oct 22, 2020

If you can't seem to shake that nagging thought about needing to get liability insurance, it's for good reason. However, for many freelance writers, being uninsured has traditionally had more to do with the challenge of finding a provider that actually offers professional liability coverage that meets the needs of independent writers, less with them taking a bury-your-head-in-the-sand approach to risk. Here’s the good news — writers can now finally get covered with professional liability insurance tailored specifically for freelance writers. But if you’re not sure you need coverage in the first place, here are some important things to consider. (Spoiler: you should really consider getting coverage.)

You face serious — and alarmingly expensive — risks as a freelance writer.

· Libel and slander

· Defamation

· Copyright infringement

· Errors and omissions

No writer wants to touch these claims with a 10-foot pole. But no matter how expert you are, these risks come with the territory for writers and carry a hefty price tag to defend, even if you’re not at fault. Legal fees alone can quickly escalate to tens of thousands of dollars (not something you’ll want to skimp on with your reputation on the line). Plus, if you are found liable, you will need to pay compensation costs on top of that, which can be hundreds of thousands, even millions, of dollars.

Most traditional insurance policies don’t cover many of these risks, historically leaving writers to face them alone. With new specialized insurance for writers, you can get up to $100,000 of professional liability coverage that covers these risks and more for less than $1/day, as well as the peace of mind of knowing you’re covered.

Liability insurance protects you whether it’s your fault or not.

Mistakes and unforeseen scenarios happen, even to the best of the best. Say you publish something that a high-profile figure takes offense to. They may sue you for defamation. Perhaps you fall sick and miss a contractual deadline, causing your client to delay a launch and lose money. They may sue you for compensation. Maybe you are the target of a fraudulent claim (yes, it does happen).

Even if you did nothing wrong, having the right kind of professional liability insurance means an expert team of lawyers who specialize in liability claims is on your side. Your policy can cover legal defense fees as well as claims brought against you by clients or third parties.

The rapidly changing media landscape has freelancers shouldering risk on their own.

While more and more journalists and writers are freelancing, fewer and fewer publications are willing to extend their liability coverage to independent workers amid a highly litigious media landscape. Liability protections that were once common in freelance contracts are now largely a thing of the past, despite any killer negotiating skills you may have. Whether your contract terms have changed or you’re newly adjusting to life outside of an employer’s coverage for in-house staff, you’ll need to fill the void with your own liability coverage so you don’t leave yourself vulnerable should a lawsuit arise.

You may increasingly need liability insurance to win new work.

If your clients to date haven’t required you to have liability insurance, it’s only a matter of time until you find yourself going after a gig where winning the work depends on it. In today’s uncertain environment, clients are doing everything they can to prepare for the unexpected. That includes knowing their partners have the proper coverage in place to protect against potential financial losses. (Even if your clients don’t require you to be insured, it doesn’t make coverage any less essential given the risks you may face.)


Get ahead of the game by proactively getting liability coverage for your business. You’ll be ready to check the box when the time comes and start protecting yourself in the meantime.

Freelancers Union is partnering with Dinghy and NSM Insurance Group to help freelance writers say hello to peace of mind with liability insurance crafted exclusively to meet their needs. Get the full scoop here.

Dinghy

Freelancers Union is partnering with Dinghy and NSM Insurance Group to help freelance writers say hello to peace of mind with liability insurance crafted exclusively to meet their needs.