Independent Contractor Insurance Question?

Subject: Independent Contractor Insurance Question?
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 31 Oct 2005 10:54:30 -0500

Kirk Turner reports: <<I am considering a contract to edit a manual for a state agency. In the contract, the company requires that I maintain professional liability insurance (errors and omission insurance).>>

Caveat: My response applies only to editing, here in non-litigious Canada; YMMV in the highly litigious U.S. and elsewhere in the world.

In my experience, this is a negotiable clause just like any other clause in a contract. Most governments seem to include this as part of the "boilerplate" (standard terms) for all contracts, and many simply delete the clause from the contract when you point out that it's not relevant. For a regular government client, I explained to them the cost of this insurance (thousands of dollars), pointed out that the maximum potential loss would be limited to the reprinting of the book if the error were major (very low risk; see below), and reminded them that I'd have to add this cost to the bill. They usually aren't interested in paying this much extra.

My standard terms specify that as the editor, all my edits are suggestions, and that it is the client's responsibility to confirm the correctness of everything that I do because I am not a PhD or certified professional (e.g., for engineering) in any of the dozens of subject areas I edit in. I further add that in those cases where the author doesn't like what I've done (perhaps because I inadvertently introduced an error as a result of misunderstanding), they're free to work with me over the phone or by e-mail to explain things so I can come up with better wording.

Thus far, these terms have been accepted with only minor griping. If the client won't accept those terms or the additional cost of the insurance, I won't accept their contract. You may not have that luxury (passing up work), so:

<<If this insurance isn't applicable, they require that I maintain a commercial general liability policy covering my services.>>

Again, this is a boilerplate phrase that doesn't apply in many cases. A local insurance broker (Quebec and Ontario) explained this specific insurance to me as only relevant if clients come to your house; for example, if they slip and fall, or if a bookcase full of dictionaries falls on them, this insurance covers you against lawsuits. It does not in any way take the place of errors and omissions insurance. (You may also find "professional liability" insurance, which is similar but different. Details elude me, so talk to a broker with expertise in your legal jurisdiction.)

<<Any suggestions?>>

Propose that these conditions be deleted from the contract, and replaced with something like what I specified above (i.e., that the client is entirely responsible for quality control but that you'll work with them until everyone agrees that your edits are satisfactory). This is both a great way to cover yourself and an important way of reminding the client that editing is a collaborative endeavor, and that both editor and author must take responsibility for the results.

_Never_ accept a contract that places all responsibility for any errors on you. Apart from the fact that it's like pasting a "kick me" sign on your butt, it sets a really bad precedent for us as professionals. Yes, we're required to exercise due diligence, but we're nobody's fall guys.

<< I just talked with my insurance lady, and she was not familiar with this insurance.>>

Then you need a new insurance lady. <g> Try calling a broker who specializes in professionals (e.g., doctors and lawyers). A generic insurance salesdrone often knows nothing beyond the three basics (home, automobile, health/disability). And note that you should expect a certain amount of incomprehension of our profession, since editors and writers aren't a familiar audience for such insurance. It's very rare that anybody would bother to sue us, so as a result, we're not a primary target for lawsuits and have no track record on which to base costs.

Try contacting various editor associations to find out whether they offer such insurance. As well, many insurance companies have an "affinity marketing" or "association" department that caters to special needs, such as those of the self-employed.

<<Any ideas on cost?>>

Depends entirely on your jurisdiction, since some jurisdictions limit liability or provide other guidance on how such lawsuits are handled. But because we editors have no "track record" in the eyes of the actuaries who crunch the cost/benefit numbers for insurers, you can expect the insurer to err on the side of caution. That means $$$--several thousands in Canada the last time I checked, and undoubtedly much more expensive in the U.S.

Best of luck!

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - --
Geoff Hart ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca
(try geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com if you don't get a reply)
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


Try WebWorks ePublisher Pro for Word today! Smooth migration of legacy
RoboHelp content into your new Help systems. EContent Magazine Decision-
maker review (October 2005) is here:

Doc-To-Help 2005 converts RoboHelp files with one click. Author with Word or any HTML editor. Visit our site to see a conversion demo movie and learn more.

You are currently subscribed to techwr-l as:
archiver -at- techwr-l -dot- com
To unsubscribe send a blank email to leave-techwr-l-obscured -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Send administrative questions to lisa -at- techwr-l -dot- com -dot- Visit for more resources and info.

Independent Contractor Insurance Question: From: Kirk Turner

Previous by Author: Training materials vrs user's guides/online help?
Next by Author: Insurance issue resolved!
Previous by Thread: Independent Contractor Insurance Question
Next by Thread: Re: Independent Contractor Insurance Question

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads