As you know, core to the VIP VA values and beliefs is the fact we absolutely believe all VAs need to have appropriate insurance to keep themselves (and their clients!) safe.
We’re thrilled to feature this fabulous blog by our EleVAte Sponsor PolicyBee.
Busy, busy, busy.
That’s you. Scheduling meetings, planning ahead, filing data, dealing with emails, tweaking websites and ticking off all your clients’ requirements to deadline.
But while you’re busy looking after other people’s affairs, who’s looking after yours?
You’re a business in your own right after all, and alongside running a business goes a list of housekeeping duties. Things like accounts, tax returns, service contracts….and insurance.
Groan. Nobody really wants to think about insurance. Especially when it means contemplating things going wrong – when all you really want to hear about is things going right.
But Murphy’s Law has a horrible habit of proving itself, and when that happens you’ll need solid back-up so you can get your business running smoothly again.
So, what kind of mishaps could be lying in wait for even highly experienced VAs? Here’s a swift rundown.
- You make a mistake
We all make mistakes sometimes, and there’s no point pretending otherwise. No one’s infallible. And although some mistakes go unnoticed, or have no impact, others do.
Say you’re inputting financial data into a spreadsheet and you miss off a crucial zero. That skews the whole calculation and means a client makes an important decision based on figures that are plain wrong.
Maybe you mismanage a diary appointment, meaning your client misses out on a meeting and the lucrative contract that should’ve gone with it.
Or you make the wrong revision to a website, send out a tweet on your client’s behalf that they object to, forget to reply to an important time-sensitive email….the list goes on.
The point is, there’s a lot of potential mistakes you can make as a VA, despite your very best intentions, and they have the power both to lose you clients and to provoke them into suing you for compensation.
- You get unlucky
Depending on your task list, and what kind of VA services you offer, you might sometimes be out and about visiting clients on-site – or they might visit you in your home office.
That all sounds pretty straightforward. But even then, things can go wrong.
Perhaps you’re at your client’s office but you knock over a vase of flowers. The water pools over their top-of-the-range MacBook Pro, ruining it, and also takes out the printer for good measure.
Or your client’s dropped by to see you in person, but they trip over an extension cable connected to your PC and fall heavily, breaking a shoulder and putting them out of action for several weeks.
In both cases, there could be quite hefty compensation claims involved – with the cash coming straight out of your pocket.
3.Your IT gets hit
Cybercrime isn’t just for big companies. Hackers don’t care who they hit as long as there’s money in it for them. And sometimes they do it just for the fun of it.
That makes your IT set-up as vulnerable as anyone’s, and if a virus or malware infection puts it out of action, you won’t be able to do your job. And if you can’t do your job, you stand to lose both clients and revenue.
Worse, hackers can steal data, wipe it completely, or hold it to ransom. Because you work for others, that means your clients’ data, and if it’s sensitive in any way – especially if it’s personal information – that can spell a whole heap of trouble.
What kind of trouble? Try affected individuals suing you for damages, disaffected (and disappearing) clients and investigations by regulatory bodies – sometimes resulting in fines.
So what is your Plan B?
It seems, then, that there’s plenty of scope for things to go pretty seriously awry in the working life of a VA. Especially since we’ve only really scratched the surface.
And that’s why it’s important to have insurance as back up, so you can weather the bad times and get your business back on track.
Here’s how it helps.
Professional indemnity (PI) insurance takes care of mistakes. If your client says you’ve been negligent, haven’t done something you should have, or that you’ve done something wrong, they can come after you for compensation.
You’ll have to deal with the situation even if you don’t think the claim is valid. Luckily, PI pays for legal expertise to fight your corner in court and covers any damages awarded too.
PI also covers things like defamation, breach of confidentiality and infringement of intellectual property, so it’s a pretty useful piece of armour all round.
Public liability insurance is one to have if you visit clients on-site or have them come to you. If a client or their property is injured while on your premises and they decide to sue for compensation, it covers all legal costs and any damages awarded.
Likewise, it does the same if you happen to cause damage to your client’s property or person when you’re on their premises.
Cyber insurance takes care of your IT and helps you recover quickly if you’re hit by a cyber-attack. It pays to repair your systems and websites, as well as providing stand-in kit so your business can keep running in the meantime.
It also pays for the expertise to handle ransom demands and data breaches, and covers legal costs and damages if you’re sued for compensation. Importantly, it pays for your business’s lost revenue during the period you’re unable to operate as normal.
There are other kinds of policy you might want to consider, too.
Office and property insurance covers fixed kit in your home office like computers, printers, furniture and so on, while portable equipment insurance takes care of laptops, phones, tablets and the like.
Business interruption insurance can be a useful one to have if for some reason you can’t work from your normal place – say there’s a flood or a fire, or some other reason for evacuation. It pays for you to set up temporarily elsewhere, and covers any lost revenue in the meantime.
What kind of insurance you choose and the level of cover you opt for is entirely up to you, of course.
But giving some serious thought to what could go wrong for your business might suggest playing it safe is a good idea. Solid protection counts, after all – even in a virtual world.
By Laura Alcock, VA insurance expert at PolicyBee online professional insurance brokers
For a quick, no-nonsense quote click here, or call 0345 222 5370 and speak to one of the lovely PolicyBee team.