Members of my Facebook group often ask whether they need insurance and which type to get. Because the options can be hard to understand, here is a summary of the various different policy types so you can make an informed decision for yourself. Many sole traders I know don’t have any insurance, but are they making a mistake?
Yup, they are making a huge mistake!
Insurance is a good idea for many reasons but for VAs, in particular, it’s because of the potential damage they could inflict on their client’s reputation and business.
VAs have access to personal data, contact details, intellectual property, cloud storage, bank accounts, social media accounts and even homes. So the potential for a cock-up is relatively high!
Here are a few things to consider:
- What happens if you accidentally delete a client’s entire mailing list or CRM?
- What if you go to a client’s home or office and spill coffee on their laptop or break a piece of original artwork?
- What happens if you post something for your client on social media and it blows up and damages their reputation or results in them being sued by another company? What if the client blames you?
- Many companies won’t use contractors who don’t have insurance.
- Most Associates won’t outsource work to a VA who doesn’t have insurance.
These are the main types of policies and what they cover:
Public liability insurance
This protects you if a client suffered personal injury or property damage because of your business. It covers the costs of subsequent legal expenses or compensation claims and is used by businesses that interact regularly with customers.
You may want to take out this insurance if you go to your client’s offices or homes. It’s relatively unlikely you will do any damage to a client’s property, but you could trip and throw your coffee over an expensive painting or on their computer, for instance.
Professional indemnity insurance
This protects you against negligence or mistakes. Claims can arise from a client who is unhappy with the professional service or advice you have provided and feel they have suffered a financial loss as a result. It will protect you against a client’s compensation claim for negligence or mistakes and covers any legal costs.
If you want peace of mind (especially if you post on social media for your client), this is the one you should have.
Without scaring you, many VAs post on social media for their clients but fail to appreciate that it only takes one misplaced hashtag or ill-advised comment to damage a client’s reputation or embroil them in a media storm.
While the client may be understanding, unless they are telling you exactly what to post, if something happens that impacts their brand online, they will probably lay the blame squarely on you.
So you’d better have insurance!
Employers’ liability insurance
You only need this if you employ people but you don’t need this if you are a Limited Company with just one employee who owns 50% or more of the share capital (i.e. you). If you’re a Sole Trader and do not employ anyone, or you only employ close family members, you should also be exempt.
Product liability insurance
You only need this cover if your business involves the sale of physical products to members of the public.
Other types of insurance
Also known as cyber risk, data risk or cyber liability insurance, this is designed to protect businesses who use, send or store electronic data from data breaches – usually caused by malware, ransomware and computer hacking.
If you fall prey to a cyber attack and any data or electronic systems are lost, damaged, stolen or corrupted, the first-party cover usually includes the cost of investigating the crime, recovering lost data, restoring computer systems, reputation management, extortion payments demanded by hackers, notification costs if you need to inform any third parties affected by the incident, and loss of income caused by a business shutdown.
Third-party coverages (that result from claims against you) include damages and settlements, and the cost of legally defending yourself against claims of a GDPR breach.
Income protection insurance
Also known as income replacement insurance or permanent health insurance, this is a type of insurance that will pay you an income if you have to stop working due to an injury or long-term illness.
The amount you can claim will not replace the exact income you were earning before you had to stop work though and you will only receive about half to two-thirds of your earnings (before tax). You also won’t receive payments straight away and will usually have to wait a minimum of four weeks, although payments can even start up to two years after you stop work.
You can also take out critical illness insurance which can be cheaper and pays out a one-off lump sum if you have a specific serious illness as well as short-term income protection insurance – this also pays out a monthly sum related to your income, but only for a limited period of time (normally between two and five years) and it covers fewer illnesses or situations.
Which policies most VAs have and who they use
A poll of working VAs in my VA Handbookers Facebook group revealed that the majority of them just had professional indemnity insurance but a few also had public liability, cyber, and income protection cover as well.
The most popular insurance companies were Markel, PolicyBee, Hiscox (who are the underwriters for PolicyBee) and InsuranceBee. Monthly premiums ranged from £9 to £23 a month depending on the cover.
PolicyBee’s Professional Indemnity Insurance for VAs comes highly recommended by my Facebook group and they are the insurance company I use myself.
UK VAs can use this link to receive up to 10% off.
If you have completed the disaster recovery exercises in my post on how to future-proof your Virtual Assistant business, you will have seen that having insurance can prevent or mitigate the impact of many of the negative events that might befall your business.
Insurance defends you against physical damage and injuries caused by your business, as well as claims of negligence, breach of confidentiality, dishonesty, libel and slander.
Most Lead VAs will only take on Associates who have insurance and many businesses will only work with freelancers who are insured.
So, in response to the title of this post, yes, Virtual Assistants should definitely have insurance!
* Please note that I am not a financial expert and you should always consult a reputable insurance company to discuss options based on your individual situation and needs.
* I am also an affiliate for PolicyBee which means I receive a small commission if you buy from them. I use PolicyBee for my own insurance and only recommend companies or products that I know and trust.
* PolicyBee’s US sister company is InsuranceBee. Unfortunately, I am unable to arrange a reduction for my American readers as referral discounts are regarded as ‘kickbacks’ and are not allowed under US law.
Hi Joanne I am new to the VA business and plan to have a blog, and I wondered if it is alright quote you, of course giving credit due. I am too new to give advice but think a blog from my personal journey perspective is a good start as I prepare to launch my business.
Of course. You should have a purpose to your blog though – it’s a marketing tool so try to make it useful to your ideal client. Your website is for your reader, and not for you. I have post on blogs that might help.
I see that this is not a U.S. insurance company so I cannot get a quote. Do you recommend any companies who cover in the U.S.?
I believe they have worldwide insurance but the best thing to do is to ask in the VA Handbookers Facebook group as there are many US VAs in there who I’m sure can help.
Do you mind if I quote a few of your posts as long as I provide credit and sources back to your site? My blog is in the very same niche as yours and my visitors would really benefit from some of the information you provide here. Please let me know if this ok with you. Thank you!