You’re the extra pair of hands your clients rely on. But what if something unexpected crops up? Or if they want you to start helping them in a new way?
As a virtual assistant, you’re used to spinning lots of different plates.
But if those plates come crashing down, you’ll need a Plan B to protect your business from the financial fallout. And keep your reputation from shattering, too.
An insurance policy that looks after you while you look after your clients will do it. But where do you start figuring out what virtual assistants' cover you need?
You might carry out lots of different tasks for your client. Everything from diary and email management to keeping track of their receipts.
Suddenly, your client’s tax deadline’s looming. They ask if you can help them fill out their return.
It’s easy to say ‘yes’, then realise you’ll be held responsible if you make a mistake. Like a wrong calculation that pushes your client into a higher tax bracket.
Problem is, by then, you could already be facing a claim. As well as the prospect of paying £thousands in legal costs and damages to make things right.
Virtual assistant, real risk
Negligence claims are a real worry for VAs. Even a small mistake or mix-up when you’re helping someone out can lead to big problems. And if that someone loses money, you can bet they’ll add “seek compensation” to their to-do list.
Unfortunately, everyone’s capable of making errors. Even professionals like you.
So, what do you do?
Make sure your virtual assistants' insurance can cover what you do. And that’s before you do it.
As a VA, it’s likely you do a mixture of different things, depending on your skill set and training.
First, you should tot up your task list. Then look at getting professional indemnity (PI) insurance to cover your activities. It protects you if your client accuses you of negligence, poor service, libel, or slander.
Virtual assistants' PI can also cover things like lost documents and confidentiality breaches. If you step off a train, leaving behind a file containing your client’s customers' private details. Or if you accidentally forward a confidential email to one of your client's suppliers, causing them to lose their contract.
Rethink your strategy
But a word of warning here. Especially if you're ever asked to do something that requires special expertise, or crosses over with another profession. Like in our tax return scenario.
Virtual assistants' PI can only do so much. The clue, really, is in your job description. You’re a virtual assistant, not a virtual expert.
So, if you’re helping a client out with their emails and writing some of their website copy as well, virtual assistants’ insurance can help you out.
But if they suddenly ask you to do a deep dive into their email marketing strategy, then you should speak to your insurer.
Saying ‘yes’ without checking your policy wording could leave you uninsured. And risking not just your time and finances but your reputation as well.
A few golden rules
Your touchstone when buying insurance should be to read through your policy wording to see what’s covered. And then decide if it covers what you do – whether that’s diary and email management, transcription, social media, VA training, or everything in between.
Next, you should consider what amount of cover would be right for you. Think about your worst-case scenario and what could go wrong. Then ask yourself, “How much professional indemnity insurance do I need?”
Bear in mind, too, that if you’ve bagged lots of new clients recently, your task list’s probably multiplied. So it's good practice to review your business activities regularly to see if you need more cover.
Let's say a lettings agent client asks you to take some photographs inside their show home to post on their social media. You might want photography equipment insurance in case you drop your camera. Public liability, too, to cover the damages if you back into a mirror or knock over a vase while you're there.
And if you work from home, business contents insurance will cover any office furniture or equipment that's lost, stolen or broken. If thieves make off with your PC, or a fire scorches your home office, you could find your hands tied without it.
Do virtual assistants need cyber cover?
Being online for any amount of time is risky. Handling clients’ emails, confidential documents, and payment info doubles that risk. It means you regularly store and handle something all cybercriminals want: personal data. And that leaves you open to cyber-attacks.
Losing your client’s entire inbox to hackers will damage your business with no guarantee you’ll bounce back. So, it’s best not to hang around. Get cyber insurance added to your VA policy instead.
It covers £thousands in compensation and legal fees if you're sued for data loss. It also pays for data retrieval, ransom negotiations, and security fixes. Lost income, too, if your systems or website are shut down and you're unable to work.
Top tip: Your cyber policy should cover financial fraud and social engineering attacks like phishing. They make up the lion's share of all cyber breaches.
Real protection in a virtual world
Working virtually can be riskier than you think. Which makes it more likely you’ll have to bolt some extra cover onto your virtual assistants' insurance to make it watertight.
We’ll happily run through the different types of cover virtual assistants need with you. Just give us a ring on 0345 222 5391.
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