If you have a knack for the written word (and would like nothing more than to drop your 9-5 in favor of more flexibility), then a career in freelance writing could be just the ticket.
But before you go full steam ahead as a solopreneur, you’ll want to make sure you’re managing the risks that come along with striking out on your own.
That’s why we’re sharing all the details about the three main types of insurance you’ll want to invest in to ensure both you and your business are properly protected.
But first: what makes writing so risky?
Many freelancers don’t have insurance because they don’t think of writing as a particularly risky practice. But that’s not always the case. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
It’s easy to think that all you do is sit at a laptop and type – but many freelancers meet with their clients, use expensive equipment that they don’t own, or host other creatives at their home or office to collaborate. So, what happens if a client or a fellow creative slips and falls on their way into your co-working space? Or you damage someone’s expensive printer, or go to a client’s home and spill a cup of coffee all over their hardwood flooring or new art piece? Insurance will provide you with peace of mind knowing you’re protected no matter what.
Mistakes are inevitable
Maybe you accidentally misquote an expert, copy and paste a full paragraph of someone else’s work, or convey complex information incorrectly. Whatever the case, errors like this aren’t all that uncommon when you’re writing day in and day out to meet tight deadlines. They can be costly though, because you could be sued for libel or defamation, or your client could hold you accountable for providing content that’s not correct. The right insurance will protect you from these types of claims.
You’re on your own for health insurance
One of the nice things about a typical 9-5 is that it comes with employer-sponsored health insurance benefits. But once you venture off to do your own thing, you’ll need to find individual coverage to ensure you can get access to health care if and when you need it. Purchasing a self-employed health insurance policy can do the trick, but there are a few different options that could be right for you depending on your circumstances. (More on that below!).
The three main types of insurance every writer needs
Regardless of whether you’re operating your business as a sole proprietor or an LLC, it’s important that you have the right business insurance to protect against all those risks we mentioned above. Keep in mind that general liability and professional liability insurance are the two main types that are most beneficial for writers, but if you have your own office or employ other individuals, you may want to consider additional coverage, too.
General liability insurance
Remember when we mentioned that accidents can happen? General liability insurance protects against lawsuits for bodily injury, property damage and advertising injury, so you’re covered if someone sues you for an injury they sustain at your home or office, for damage that you cause to their property, or for making false claims or posting their content without permission.
Professional liability insurance
This is the coverage for those pesky mistakes we mentioned earlier. Professional liability insurance (also known as errors and omissions insurance, or E&O) covers you if you’re sued for plagiarizing, providing incorrect information, or breaching a confidentiality agreement with any of your clients. It also includes protection if you’re sued for losing or damaging your clients' assets or violating the terms of your contract. Plus, it will also cover issues surrounding trademark and copyright infringement.
Many insurers that specialize in small business coverage offer both general liability and professional liability policies that you can purchase directly online. Or, if you're more comfortable working with a professional, you can connect with a licensed insurance broker for help finding a solution that fits your unique needs.
Yes, it’s important to protect the business you’ve worked so hard to build, but it’s also important to protect your own wellbeing – especially in the absence of an employer-sponsored plan. That’s why health insurance is the third type of policy no self-employed writer should go without.
Not sure where to start? First, identify how much coverage you need. If you’re a relatively healthy person who rarely visits the doctor, you may wish to choose a policy with a high deductible and lower monthly premiums. This means your policy will cost you each month, but you’ll have to pay a higher fee in the event you need to file a claim. If you’re someone who sees the doctor regularly, takes multiple prescriptions, or has a chronic health condition, you may opt for a policy that has a higher monthly premium and a lower deductible, since you’re more likely to make multiple claims. If you want dental or disability insurance alongside standard healthcare coverage, keep this in mind, too, since not all providers offer these options.
Once you've established the amount of coverage you're looking for, it's time to search for a policy that's right for you. Here are a few good places to start:
Your spouse’s health insurance plan
If you happen to have a partner or spouse who has their own health insurance plan, this could be the most affordable way for you to get coverage of your own, since – in many cases – their employer will subsidize the cost of your policy too.
Association Health Plans (AHPs)
Many unions, guilds and professional organizations offer group health insurance for their members. Depending on the type of writing you do, you may want to check out the National Writers Union, the National Association for the Self Employed (NASE), the Writers Guild of America (WGA) or the Freelancers Union – all of which offer solid plans that may be a good fit. Another perk? Since group policies are based on large membership numbers, the cost of these plans tend to be lower, too.
If you just left a job with an employer that had more than 20 employees, you may be eligible to convert your employer-sponsored health insurance plan to an individual one through COBRA. This option is available to you even if you left your previous work voluntarily, but it can be more expensive than typical marketplace insurance plans because, in order to keep your coverage, you’ll now need to pay both the employer and employee-contributed portions of the price. Plus, you need to commit to a COBRA plan within 60 days of losing your coverage, so if you’ve been freelancing for a while, this option may not be available to you.
Available to low-income individuals and families, this health insurance option is funded by the federal government (although eligibility criteria differs by state). If you think you may qualify, check your state’s Medicaid website to learn more.
Private health insurance plans
If you're a freelance worker who can’t find health insurance through any of the options above, you can always find a private health insurance plan on the healthcare.gov marketplace thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or “Obamacare." Enrollment for these plans typically only opens once a year (between November 1 and December 15, for plans starting January 1) unless you get married, divorced, have a child, or leave your job, all of which make you eligible for earlier registration. Plus, the price you pay depends on a combination of your current income and other factors, so you may want to compare a few different plans before committing.
Keep in mind that, if you're considered a low income applicant, you may also be able to take advantage of health insurance subsidies like the Advanced Premium Tax Credit (APTC) or Cost Sharing Reductions (CSRs). If you apply for ACA marketplace insurance and qualify for one of these ways to save, you’ll be notified automatically.
Insurance gives you peace of mind, and so does Practice
From deciding on fees to finding new clients, being a freelance writer can definitely feel daunting at first – but having the right insurance can help you tackle your tasks with peace of mind. At Practice, we're committed to finding you ways to do more and stress less – it's why we created our end-to-end CRM system to streamline your billing, contracts, meeting schedule, and more. Give it a try today!