Everything You Need to Know About Writers Insurance
While seeking thrilling assignments and making a career out of your passion offers the fulfillment you’re looking for, there are also risks to consider as you build your business. That’s why you need writers’ insurance.
Anticipating these risks doesn’t mean you doubt your skills or the many opportunities you have as a professional writer.
It’s simply wise to prepare for any scenario.
And part of that preparedness is being aware of challenges you may encounter and knowing how to deal with them.
You may have heard about writer’s insurance. Insurance is an excellent way to protect yourself if you encounter unanticipated mishaps that could negatively affect your career and financial situation.
But don’t worry; there’s no need to navigate this (sometimes confusing) information alone.
Here, we’ll break down everything you need to know about the potential risks freelance writers face, the expected consequences, and how writer’s insurance might offer some peace of mind.
Ready? Let’s get started.
What Are the Potential Risks of Freelance Writing?
Whether you’re just starting a freelance career or are an experienced self-employed writer, you might wonder about some of the legal risks associated with this line of work.
And rightly so:
Being a self-employed writer means you’re responsible for every aspect of your client relationships.
- Planning your workflow
- Delivering custom content to different clients
- Meeting deadlines
- Providing accurate invoices
- Following up on payment
- And so many other tasks that can make managing a freelance career a job in itself
Most importantly, being a freelancer or independent contractor means you take full responsibility for the written content you deliver to your clients.
We’ll discuss some of them now before we dive into the details of how writer’s insurance could help.
Trust-Based Client Relationships
Sometimes, your clients won’t provide you with a contract (and you may not feel the need for one due to the work’s nature).
That’s okay. Especially if you’ve agreed to use a platform or have communication records documenting each party’s expectations.
However, it’s crucial to understand that you and your client have a trust-based relationship without a contract.
That means your client expects you to deliver the requested content on the agreed-upon timeline. In turn, you wish payment according to predetermined terms.
However, regardless of how well you know your client, enforcing the terms of a work agreement without a contract can be challenging.
You already know it’s unacceptable to copy someone else’s words and claim that you wrote them yourself (an illegal act called plagiarism).
But sometimes, writers don’t plagiarize on purpose.
Whether you had intended to quote another writer or copy a paragraph for your reference, oversights can (and do) happen.
Any incidence of plagiarism is a severe offense that may negatively impact your business and even have legal consequences.
Defamation and Libel
Every writer has probably heard the terms “defamation” and “libel,” but what do they mean?
Depending on the writing assignment you’re aiming for, you may be quoting, describing, referring to, or critiquing someone else. It may be an individual, but it can also be a group of people (like culture, organization, brand, etc.).
How you talk about other people matters because it can alter their lives in ways you might not expect.
For that reason, you should be aware of how writers carry immense responsibility when it comes to these mistakes:
This is when you say something untrue about another person, damaging their reputation.
An example is implying that someone can’t do their job.
This is similar to defamation. However, libel refers specifically to a published statement that has the potential to influence the reputation of a person or group negatively.
An example could be publishing a blog calling an individual a “liar.”
Both defamation and libel are punishable by law, even if a writer doesn’t commit the offense intentionally.
Business or Property Damage
Though it may seem unlikely, there are instances where self-employed writers and freelancers may be responsible for damages to assets or property.
Whether it’s your property or assets that belong to your client, knowing about these unwanted events prepares you to prevent them.
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What Is Writers Insurance?
Like any other self-employed individual, writers can protect themselves from some of the everyday risks of working in media by having a specialized insurance policy.
The kind of insurance coverage you might need will depend on considerations like:
- The writing you do
- Requirements outlined in client contracts
- Your income (or revenue)
- The value of your business-related assets
There’s no one-size-fits-all coverage plan because many factors play into your unique needs as a freelance writer.
However, there are a few common types of insurance writers might carry.
Keep reading to discover one or more types of insurance that are right for you and your career.
General Liability Insurance
Most businesses carry general liability insurance (or business insurance) regardless of the industry.
General liability insurance can cover several types of unanticipated incidents:
- Personal or bodily injury
- Legal expenses and settlements
- Property damage
You might be wondering:
Why would a freelance writer need a comprehensive general liability insurance policy that covers events like injuries or property damage?
Surprisingly, writers can find themselves liable for damages and injuries in situations they encounter every day.
Here are a few examples:
- If your client becomes injured at a coworking space or personal office that you use for meetings
- Property damage to a client’s physical assets, like a device or printer
- If you are responsible for loss or damage to a client’s digital or virtual assets that impact their success
- If you violate the terms of a contract
Generally, liability insurance often provides coverage for libel and defamation lawsuits. But depending on your policy and deductible, it may be limited.
You’ll want to check out the next section for added security as a writer.
We’ll break down vital information about another type of coverage called professional liability insurance (or media liability insurance).
Professional/Media Liability/Media Perils Insurance
Professional liability insurance provides specialty coverage for people who work in media-related industries — including writers.
Professional or media liability insurance can help protect you against some of the costs and legal fees if you encounter a situation involving incidents.
Some of the most common incidents include:
If you are a self-employed author contracted with a publisher, they will likely already carry media liability insurance covering your work.
To be safe, you should check with your publisher to learn how their insurance policy applies to you and request that they add your name as “additional insured” if they haven’t already.
How Do I Get Writers Insurance?
General and professional liability insurance policies can be purchased through companies offering these services to small business owners and individuals.
Before committing to a liability coverage policy, get insurance quotes from multiple companies. You can compare premiums online but also work with a licensed insurance agent (or an insurance broker) if you prefer a more personalized experience.
What Can Happen if I Encounter Issues with My Clients?
Clear communication and adherence to established agreements will help you avoid conflicts with your clients.
Unfortunately, you may still experience unanticipated disagreements or issues.
There’s no reason to stress about the issues you’ll potentially encounter with your clients as long as you know what they might be and prepare for them accordingly.
Let’s explore a few of the most common consequences freelance writers face when dealing with client conflicts.
Poor Reviews or a Negative Reputation
As a contractor, freelancer, or self-employed writer, the growth of your business depends on your reputation. Every project you take on is an opportunity to forge client relationships that can lead to more exciting and lucrative connections.
Therefore, it’s crucial to avoid conflicts with your clients and have professional solutions prepared in case they happen.
Lost Wages or Unpaid Contracts
As a freelancer, you aren’t guaranteed a regular paycheck — your income depends entirely on your ability to deliver quality content on time.
Without providing the work or level of quality outlined in your client agreements, the result may be a loss of wages due to unpaid invoices and contracts.
If you fall through on your commitments through a breach of contract or handle your client relationships poorly, they may not be obligated to pay you.
Losing Clients and Referrals
Failing to meet a deadline or fulfill a contract may have consequences beyond your relationship with one client.
Causing loss or damage, plagiarizing, or libel can also have long-term negative impacts on your career.
You may lose that client for good.
But that’s not all:
Leaving a client relationship on poor terms means you’re also giving up valuable referrals that can be essential to growing your career as a freelance writer.
Liability and Lawsuits
In most cases, legal issues like defamation, libel, loss, or damages arise unintentionally.
As a professional writer, you strive to meet deadlines and provide the work you and your clients have envisioned. But, unfortunately, unexpected mishaps and conflicts still occur despite the best intentions.
Although a lawsuit or legal conflict is unlikely if you manage your work and clients’ expectations properly, it’s always a possibility to keep in mind.
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Are There Other Ways I Can Protect Myself as a Freelance Writer?
Sure, the potential risks we’ve outlined in the previous sections of this article are worth considering. But they shouldn’t be a cause for fear or concern.
With a few expert tips, you can avoid many situations that could cause conflict with your clients.
Besides having professional liability insurance, here are some fundamental ways you can protect yourself as a writer:
Use Reputable Sources
If you hope to be taken seriously as a writer, you must use reputable sources to back up the information in your work.
Here are a few essential pointers:
- Trace facts and statistics back to the original study for citation
- Avoid referencing articles that don’t provide sources, and investigate the authorities if they do
- Be aware of your language, specifying whether a statement is opinion, speculation, or fact and backing it up with sources.
- If you aren’t sure whether a source is legitimate, check third-party sites or ask industry peers for insight.
Find an Editing Buddy
Never underestimate the power of a fresh perspective and pair of eyes that haven’t spent hours laboring over the work as you have.
Having a buddy edit your work (in exchange for editing theirs or a batch of homemade banana bread) is one of the best investments you can make in your writing business.
They can provide feedback about areas that need more clarification, voice inconsistencies, and even catch grammatical errors that fell through the cracks.
Their input might make all the difference in how clients perceive your skills, potentially helping you avoid challenges as you grow your career.
Use a Plagiarism and Language Checker
Although nothing can replace the value provided by a human editor, you should also use technology to ensure your work is top-notch before submitting it to your client.
Many tools are available to help you feel confident that your work is ready for submission.
Consider using free or low-cost online applications that help with things like:
- Spelling and grammar
- Sentence clarity and structure
- Inclusive language
Get Help Reading Contracts
Don’t make the mistake of signing a contract without reading and fully understanding what it entails, no matter how excited you may be to score the assignment.
- Take the time to read the entire contract
- Note any terms you don’t understand
- Consider printing a contract and highlighting phrases to clarify through an online search.
- Ask a knowledgeable friend to take a look or consult a legal professional
After receiving the contract, let your client know you’ll sign and return it within a few days. This allows you time to review the details or get the needed help.
It shouldn’t be a problem with professional, established businesses.
If a potential client pressures you to sign a contract quickly and isn’t willing to discuss your questions and concerns, you may want to reconsider taking on the project.
Writers Insurance Conclusion
Transitioning to a freelance writing career can be a gratifying experience with the right tools and know-how.
But like any other professional path, it comes with its own unique set of risks that every writer should be prepared to deal with in the event they occur.
Luckily, writer’s insurance is an excellent way to protect yourself and your clients as you establish a working relationship.
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