Where do I get freelance liablity insurance.
May 15, 2012 6:16 AM   Subscribe

How do I go about getting liability insurance as a freelance writer?

I recently accepted a contract to write for a newspaper on a freelance basis. The contract had a requirement for me to purchase insurance in case any liability issues arise.

Where do you get insurance like this? Any ideas on the cost? Would the costs be tax deductible?

posted by anonymous to Work & Money (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Go to an insurance broker to discuss your options. Yes, the insurance would be tax deductable.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:26 AM on May 15, 2012

Lots of member organisations offer group rates on insurance. Whether this is a real saving for you depends on the member organisation fees, the quotes you get from your broker and whether you'd use any of the other member services of the guild/group/association.

Here is an example link from an organisation I know absolutely nothing about. Not a recommendation.
posted by Trivia Newton John at 6:36 AM on May 15, 2012

If you have homeowners insurance, you can talk to that broker about this need, as sometimes they will offer it as an umbrella policy (for example, USAA umbrella, or USAA business insurance). It's usually pretty inexpensive. It's part of the business expenses that you list on the Schedule C for US federal taxes.
posted by Houstonian at 6:41 AM on May 15, 2012

I think you should negotiate the clause out of your contract, first. The paper has its own insurance, and that should cover your work.
posted by Ideefixe at 7:02 AM on May 15, 2012

Yeah, talk to a broker. The one that sells you your homeowners'/renters' policy and auto policy will almost certainly be able to hook you up.

Know that this is probably not an exposure which would be covered under a homeowners'/renters' policy or accompanying umbrella policy without some kind of special endorsement. Personal lines policies normally exclude business activities, so it's likely you'll need a separate, commercial lines policy for that. The difference is not just in the nature of the exposure but part of the insurance regulatory framework. Commercial lines are less regulated than personal lines, because commercial entities are presumed to 1) be more savvy about their needs than private individuals, and 2) have larger and more unique needs that require some creativity in coverage.

The cost is likely to be pretty cheap, i.e., only a few hundred bucks a year, at best, for $1 million in limits--assuming anyone will even sell you a $1 million policy. The biggest exposure most businesses face is their actual business activities, but yours is pretty trivial. The second biggest exposure is premises liability, i.e., people getting hurt on their property. You don't really have that exposure at all, presumably.

Commercial insurance is pretty much always tax deductible.

Regardless, I'd say you push back at the newspaper. There's no good reason they should be foisting this off on you. They're the big entity and your employer. Let them buy their own damn insurance.
posted by valkyryn at 7:03 AM on May 15, 2012

When I was a freelancer (~20 years) I always managed to get my clients/employers to waive liability insurance. Maybe you can too.
posted by caryatid at 7:25 AM on May 15, 2012

I'm a freelance writer, working in the Netherlands. I have Professional Liability Insurance via my bank, but I think most insurance companies sell it. It's highly recommended here - not to say obligatory, but this country is absolutely in love with insurance. My policy covers me for damage I might cause to a client's assets while carrying out my duties, e.g. by spilling a drink on a computer. It costs about €10 a month. I just pay up and forget about it.
posted by ZipRibbons at 7:30 AM on May 15, 2012

I've got an $1 million umbrella policy and I think I'm paying about $20 a month for it. Basically it kicks in should homeowners and/or auto insurance limits be exceeded. What I'm not sure about is if there are any exclusions in it related to providing professional services. I bought it because I have two teenagers that are driving.
posted by COD at 8:09 AM on May 15, 2012

My policy covers me for damage I might cause to a client's assets while carrying out my duties,

But if you're a freelancer, working at home, you don't need to be insured against damage to the newspaper's computer. The ASJA suggests that any freelancer should try to get the clause waived. If you're really doing some heavy-duty investigative work or writing link-bait controversial stories, I guess getting the insurance can make sense, but I think in general, it's not needed.
posted by Ideefixe at 8:12 AM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Get it waived. I have always gotten it waived.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:15 AM on May 15, 2012

Make sure you understand what type of insurance they're talking about. There's general business liability, which covers dumping your coffee on someone's computer, and then there's the (in my experience) much more expensive "errors & omissions" insurance, which is called different things in different countries and supposedly covers you if you report something inaccurately. The ASJA link posted by Ideefixe appears to refer to the latter type of insurance.

I'm a consultant who never sets foot on my clients' property, so I ask clients to waive any general liability requirements. I usually refuse to work with clients who require errors & omissions, but I did buy the policy once for a huge project that could absorb the cost.
posted by ceiba at 9:20 AM on May 15, 2012

What I'm not sure about is if there are any exclusions in it related to providing professional services.

Unless you've purchased a special endorsement to provide that coverage, it probably doesn't. And most insurance companies will only sell that kind of endorsement to people eligible for something like malpractice insurance, e.g., physicians, lawyers, architects, etc.

Again, don't think that just getting an umbrella policy is going to do it. It can, if you do it right, but it's really something you need to consult with an insurance broker to do properly, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if they just recommended a separate commercial policy.
posted by valkyryn at 4:58 AM on May 16, 2012

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