Re: Liability Insurance for Cont

Subject: Re: Liability Insurance for Cont
From: "Kevin S. Wilson" <Jewkes -at- AOL -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 5 Dec 1994 19:24:15 -0500

In a post, Cathy Godwin (tdsasg!cgodwin -at- UUNET -dot- UU -dot- NET) writes:

<I have a couple of questions for the independent contractors out
there. (I'm an independent contractor, and this issue just came up for me.)
Do you have insurance for product liability?
If yes, where do you get this type of coverage?
Can a tech writer be "bonded"?>

What would such product-liability insurance cover? The document you produce?
Or does it in some way indemnify you against loss as a result of damages
arising from use of the _product_ your document discusses? The former is
insurance against crummy writing; the latter, insurance against faulty
product design or stupid end-users. For both types of coverage, it seems
unlikely that an insurance company would cover you--at least not at rates
that didn't approach the annual interest payment on the national debt.

Cut off my legs and call me Shorty, but I don't understand how such coverage
would work. It sounds as if you're asking about errors-and-ommissions
insurance, or the tech-writing equivalent of malpractice insurance (Heaven

My guess is that the contract was written from boilerplate designed for folks
who build stuff like bridges, roads, microwave ovens, and condominiums. As a
contractor, I've sometimes had to inform clients that their legal department
is running on auto-pilot. In such cases, I've pointed out that "Section 4,
Subsection C" doesn't really apply to the project or to the work I'm supposed
to do . . . so could they please strike it? In every case, they've struck the
irrelevant language.

Much more likely is that you'll be asked to carry liability insurance that
indemnifies the client against loss arising from injury to you or toothers.
You slip and fall in the parking lot; you stab a #2 pencil into a co-worker's
heart ... that sort of thing. Contracts I've entered into originally called
for $1 million worth of such insurance on my part. Again, I asked the client
to waive it, and the client did. I only had to explain to them what it would
cost for a one-person shop to obtain such coverage.

Finally, if by bonded you mean insured against loss arising from theft . . .
then, sure, a tech writer can be bonded. But your use of quotes indicates
that you mean something more like malpractice insurance. As I said above,
Heaven forbid. Tell your clients that you write the books, they approve the
books, and what happens after that is their concern.

Kevin S. Wilson (JEWKES -at- AOL -dot- COM)
Program in Technical Communication
Boise State University
(It's in Idaho)

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