In episode 6 of Unsure? Insure! we look at if your insurance will be void if you don't have a contract.
Will your insurance be void if you don't have a contract? The short answer is; it depends on who your insurance is with. Every insurer has different requirements and question sets when determining your eligibility to get covered.
When I was a freelance photographer I bought professional indemnity insurance that required me to have my clients sign a contract. This was a stipulation of the insurance.
If I didn’t have my clients sign a contract and something went wrong, it’s likely the insurer wouldn’t have covered me because I didn’t meet their criteria for mitigating the risk.
With the insurer that With Jack has partnered with, having a contract isn’t a stipulation of buying insurance—at least not with the type of freelancers we typically help. Instead they ask other questions to determine your eligibility. Here's a few examples.
- If you’re a developer they want to know if you'll be building payment processing software
- If you’re a photographer they want to know if you shoot in private locations without permission
- If you're a marketer they want to know that you have the appropriate licenses to use third-party content such as images
We've had a few claims where there hasn’t been a contract in place. Whilst it’s good practice for any freelancer to have a contract and it is recommended, what’s really important is that you document everything.
This is key if the project goes wrong and you have to involve the insurer.
What should you be documenting?
Document your process, project scope, changes the client asks for or requests they have made. This can be as straightforward as emailing them to confirm the changes they need, or documenting all of this collaboratively in a project management tool.
For example, when I was working with a freelance copywriter on With Jack’s website copy, we were working collaboratively via Dropbox paper. There could be no dispute about changes I didn’t ask for because edits, comments, requests… all of it was documented.
When I think of my experience as a freelance wedding photographer, it was crucial to get what was expected of me in writing. What could the client expect in terms of how many photos I'd provide? Length of coverage? When to anticipate delivery of photos?
It meant that if a client queried why I hadn’t photographed bridal prep, for example, I could point to our contract to show they hired me from the ceremony onwards. All of that would be in writing and agreed to on paper.
It's important with any project—with or without a contract— that you’re getting clients to agree to things in writing. This means the insurer has a clear idea of what was agreed and expected from both parties, and can do a better job of helping you get the best outcome.
Some freelancers do go into projects without a contract because it’s a short job, or it’s a previous client and there’s some kind of existing relationship. However, I've noticed that the jobs that cause problems tend to be the ones that you least expect!
To recap, will my insurance be void if I don't have a contract? The answer is;
- It depends on who your insurance is with. When buying insurance you’ll be asked a series of questions to determine your eligibility to get insured by that particular provider. One of those requirements might be that you need to have a contract
- Check your policy documents or contact your insurer if you're unsure
- Irrespective of whether having a contract is a requirement, it’s important to document everything—changes, requests, project scope
- Get clients to agree to things in writing
- Please have a contract!