The Coronavirus pandemic has in many ways forced people to adapt the way they do business, including VAs. It could be, for example, you've found a new revenue stream, or you no longer need to meet clients face-to-face.
We've looked at five essential questions for VA's insurance in this changing landscape.
1. My business has diversified over the last year. How does that affect my VA's insurance?
Some businesses have had to adapt and change, taking on different revenue streams because of the pandemic. If you've diversified, it's important to let your insurer or broker know so you're still completely covered if something goes wrong.
Not all businesses need the same cover and different policies cover different risks. The cover you get should take into account what your business does and your company turnover.
For instance, public liability (PL) is a good idea if you meet customers, clients or suppliers face-to-face. PL covers you if a third party has an injury in your workplace or if you accidentally damage their property. For example, a visitor could slip on a wet kitchen floor. Or, when meeting a supplier, you spill a drink on their laptop - either at your office or off-site.
On the flip side, if you were out and about but no longer have contact with other people, you may want to remove PL from your policy.
You don't want to pay for something you don't use.
2. I'm taking on employees. What do I need to think about for my VA's insurance?
First, it's a legal requirement to have employers' liability (EL) insurance if you employ people. EL protects you if a staff member hurts themselves while working and then claims against you because of the injury. For example, if they trip over a ladder or suffer from a back problem because they did not have the right office chair.
Second, it's important to consider how your other policies cover people who work for you. Your VA’s insurance may include public liability and professional indemnity. It will protect any staff and the work they do as standard. But, your policy might not include freelance or contractors, so it's worth checking the exact wording.
Most insurers will offer employers' liability (EL) if you purchase public liability (PL). If you need to, you can add EL to your existing policy at a later date. However, EL is usually bought as part of a package, so it's not always easy to purchase it independently. So you may need to ring your broker or insurer to sort it out for you.
EL can be priced competitively, and most insurers will offer £10 million cover as standard. However, the amount you pay as a premium can vary depending on how many employees you have and how much you pay in wages.
3. I've had to buy more equipment to allow for flexible working. Do I need to change anything with my insurance?
The pandemic has seen a lot of businesses purchase more equipment to allow for flexible working. It's worth checking your VA's insurance policy wording to see how much equipment cover you have.
When you consider your business equipment, make sure you don't underestimate its value. And be sure to include all your portable equipment on your cover - phones, laptops etc.
It might be worth considering writing an inventory of the items you have. It's surprising when you write everything down how much it can total. Some insurers have value brackets, so that's worth checking.
When you tell your insurer the value of your items, be as accurate as you can. And don't underinsure yourself.
As an example, you might have £10,000 worth of items in your business, but you only ever take £2,000 with you on a job. In that scenario, some people may be tempted only to insure their equipment for £2,000. The difference in value would mean you're underinsured, and some insurers have an 'average clause' to deal with this.
This means if your insurer discovers you've got more equipment than you've said and you make a claim, your insurer could pay you less. And the amount they pay you will most likely be a percentage based on how much you're underinsured.
Most insurers won't ask for evidence of the items you're covering. But it's worth keeping your purchase receipts and proof of ownership as if you claim it can move things along quicker.
4. How much cover do I need to have?
Employers' liability is the only business policy with a standard limit (£10 million), so there's no option to increase or decrease your level of cover. The amount you pay as a premium may change based on the number of employees you have and your total wage bill, but your level of cover will remain the same.
Your VA's insurance may include public liability, professional indemnity, cyber etc., and all have different ranges or levels of cover. If things have changed within your business, it's a good idea to check your cover limits, just in case.
When you're thinking about how much cover you should have, think about your day-to-day work. If you were to make a mistake, what could the financial knock-on effect be? That won't give you an exact answer but should give you an idea of the levels of cover you might need.
Sometimes you might need a minimum amount for a contract, i.e. £1million professional indemnity could be specified. If you need to, you can change your level of cover due to contract requirements midway through your policy.
5. What do you need to think about, insurance-wise, if you work in a converted shed/garden office?
First, are you keeping equipment in your garden office when you're not there, for example, overnight? Second, does your insurer know there's equipment kept in an outbuilding?
It's worth checking your policy wording, as some cover may have restrictions on the type of buildings where items are kept or stored.
Personal home insurance may or may not cover you for business equipment - it depends on your cover, as it'll vary. Some policies don't cover business equipment despite your work kit being in your home (or outbuilding). But it's worth checking as you don't want two policies to do the same thing.
Something else to think about is if you're having clients visit you in your garden office. You may need public liability to cover any mishaps that occur while they're on the premises.
Those are our top 5 VA's insurance-related questions. But, if you have more, give us a ring on 0345 222 5391 or drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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