Will edit for food
November 29, 2012 4:44 PM   Subscribe

During the past year, I have inadvertently become a freelance editor. I was wondering if any of you have some advice for me about getting disability and extended health insurance (I live in Toronto, Canada so I basically just need to worry about "extras" like dental and vision care, medications, etc.), and if you've got any other tips for me about finding work/promoting myself and managing what is in effect my own business. I've been working as an (in-house) editor for over 18 years, so I'm looking for advice on a more esoteric level than "set up a work schedule and stick to it" and "keep the receipts for your Post-its, because you can claim them at tax time".
posted by orange swan to Work & Money (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
....any other tips for me about finding work/promoting myself....

I'll take a stab at this as a freelancer (four years now,yeah!). I don't know if the same things apply across industries, but these are things that worked well for me, you can modify experiment and see if these things work for you. Some of these are probably obvious, so I apologize in advance:

• Do you have specialty niche or niches? If so, LinkedIn is your friend. Set up a detailed profile (list previous projects, jobs, contact info, use the link to go to your web page). Seriously, a lot of work comes in this way, and it takes little to no from your side. Emphasize your specialized niches. When companies have a need, they were search and if they find you (and your web page), it turns into a projects)

• Reach out to your former colleagues, or let them know that you are independent now.

• Get your hand on lists of companies in your industry (google it, LinkedIn, whatever). Send a brief letter of introduction (5 to 10 sentences max) with contact info by email. When they have a fire/immediate need, they will pull from that list.

Not adding this to the official list,but if you knock the projects out of the ballpark,you can become the main or a frequently used freelancer for various companies- there is only so much work you can handle and many of those steps (reaching out to companies) won't be needed anymore.

Don't know if this will help but I previously asked the same question - the favorited answer has really interesting/unique ideas.

Good luck!
posted by Wolfster at 5:27 PM on November 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

It looks like the Editorial Association of Canada offers access to group plan medical insurance and other assorted goodies, in addition to the usual benefits of belonging to the professional association of one's chosen profession such as job boards and networking.

I looked into self-financed disability insurance for myself last year, and it was ungodly expensive. I ultimately decided to forego it, under the logic that since my career is as a freelancer with flexible hours/easily adjustable workload who works entirely at home, I face a greatly reduced disability scenario compared to many/most workers (indeed, it's precisely the sort of job that disabled people who are unable to work in an ordinary workplace for whatever reason often seek out). I just couldn't imagine many scenarios short of a persistent vegetative state that would permanently prevent me from working at least enough to scrape by.
posted by drlith at 7:56 PM on November 29, 2012

Can't speak to disability insurance, but I can say that Dental/vision/meds is pretty pointless. I went from starving grad student/sessional to fully covered faculty. The plan covers stuff you'd pay without thinking -- 12 buck prescriptions -- but only kicks in 100 dollars every 2 years for glasses. It pays outright for dental checks and cleaning for 100 bucks, but pays a 3rd of 2000 buck root canals. If you are paying out of pocket, just stick 100 bucks a month in an Ing account and use that.
posted by jrochest at 9:51 PM on November 29, 2012

Regarding disability and health/dental insurance, your best bet if it's available is some sort of association plan such as drlith linked to (though that one seems to only give you access to health and dental, not disability). Any sort of group insurance will tend to be much more cost effective than individual coverage.

Outside of an association plan, there's really no option other than applying for individual insurance with whichever insurer. I can't speak to Ontario, but in BC Pacific Blue Cross is the go to option. If you're alumni of a school, check with them as they sometimes have plans as well.

This coverage will tend to be more expensive and your acceptance (especially for disability) will likely be contingent on being approved based on medical evidence. There's no magic bullet for any of this. Hopefully you're relatively young and relatively healthy.

I would also disagree with jrochest's comments. Especially as an individual, the idea of health and dental coverage shouldn't be to claim more than you're paying in premiums. Insurance companies aren't dumb and rarely lose money so this won't work in the long term for many people. You're paying for a degree of protection against costly, unforeseen health situations. There are many drugs out there that cost $10,000+ annually. A plan that will pay some or all of that cost is the real value for money. To that point, health coverage is generally more valuable than dental unless you're expecting problems in the future.
posted by sinical at 10:25 PM on November 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

I've been freelancing for five years, and am extremely grateful that I have an individual long-term disability insurance policy I applied for a number of years ago when I learned that most employer-related disability plans only pay out for about two years because they're considered "any occupation" - in other words, if you can work in any occupation, you're not necessarily entitled to disability payments beyond two years. It can be an exhausting fight trying to retain or regain coverage, so I opted to apply for my own policy with "own occupation protection." If I can't do my job, I'm covered (for about two-thirds of the income I was making at the time I applied for the policy) till age 65.

It's not cheap, but the peace of mind is utterly worth it, even with the exclusion clause (I'm not covered for a specific condition that affected me previously) and the fact that I have to wait six months for long-term disability to kick in. It's a hell of a lot better than the public disability support program in my province.

I also have critical illness insurance that pays a lump sum if I'm diagnosed with one of a laundry list of common serious illnesses (e.g., cancer) and an individual drug, dental and vision care program for the usual expenses.

I would suggest two things:

1. Get an insurance broker (mine is excellent; Memail me for a referral) and consult about the best coverage for your circumstances and financea.
2. Apply sooner rather than later (as in NOW). The younger you are, the easier it is to get coverage because you're less likely to have developed a condition that will result in an exclusion.

Happy to consider sharing more personal details via Memail if that would help.

Good luck to you.
posted by Schadenfreudian at 6:58 AM on November 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

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