I’m a freelance writer: Do I need liability insurance?

For many freelance writers, liability insurance has historically been difficult to find. Mainstream providers often don’t understand your specific cover needs, and most policies aren’t designed with the freelance lifestyle in mind. Here’s the good news – freelance writers can now finally get tailored  professional liability insurance. However, if you’re not sure what limit you need – or even if you need cover at all – there are some important things to consider. 

The expensive – and unexpected – risks of freelance writing 

As with any profession, there’re a number of risks to freelance writing which you may not think about, especially when starting out. These include (but aren’t limited to): 

  • Libel and slander; 
  • Defamation; 
  • Copyright infringement; and 
  • Errors and omissions.   

While any writer worth their salt will always do their due diligence when it comes to research and sticking to the brief supplied, clients can be notoriously murky about their expectations. You also may not consider yourself at risk for the above depending on the industries you work with, or if you’re just doing the odd bit of work on the side. However, no matter whether you’re a seasoned writer that’s been self-employed for some time or you’re just starting out, these risks are absolutely present – no matter how small the chances are.  

Should you be unlucky enough to fall foul of a claim, it can come with 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 plus. If you are then found liable, any compensation costs that you’re ordered to pay can add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars, even millions, particularly if your clients are a larger business with deep pockets. 

Most traditional insurance policies don’t cover many of these risks and have a reputation for leaving writers to face them alone. With new specialized insurance for freelance writers, you can get up to $100,000 of professional liability coverage that protects against all the risks above for less than $1 a day.  

Liability insurance protects you as a writer, whether it’s your fault or not 

No matter how careful you are with your work, we’re all human and, therefore, mistakes and unforeseen circumstances are inevitable. For example, you may publish something that a high-profile figure takes offense to, despite your painstaking proofing and a rigorous client compliance sign-off procedure, and they may sue you for defamation. Perhaps you fall sick and miss a deadline, causing your client to delay a launch and lose money. Maybe you are the target of a fraudulent claim, which are on the rise with many companies looking for ways to claw back lost revenue due to the ongoing COVID pandemic. There’re multiple different reasons why you may find yourself in the midst of a lawsuit, whether you’re at fault or not. 

It’s also worth bearing in mind that 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.  

Having the right kind of professional liability insurance means you have an expert team of lawyers who specialize in liability claims by your side every step of the way. Your policy can cover legal defense fees as well as claims brought against you by clients or third parties. 

Liability insurance may help you to win new work 

More than ever, clients are doing everything they can to prepare for the unexpected, meaning that they’re increasingly writing into contracts that you need some form of professional liability in order to work with them. 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 – it could even give you an edge in the incredibly competitive landscape we’re now all working in. 

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. 

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