Anyone know of professional liability insurances offering meaningful coverage?
Auteur du fil: Espen Malling

Espen Malling  Identity Verified
Danemark
Local time: 23:01
Membre (2019)
anglais vers danois
+ ...
Oct 8, 2020

Hi fellow translators!

So, I've lately been looking into professional insurances related to the liability-related issues I'd potentially be facing as a translator/copywriter, concerning everything from errors and omissions in the work itself to breaches of NDAs, non-compete clauses, and so on.

There's a lot of discussion regarding those matters in this forum, with a lot of if focusing on whether or not an insurance is necessary in the first place. This question is, of c
... See more
Hi fellow translators!

So, I've lately been looking into professional insurances related to the liability-related issues I'd potentially be facing as a translator/copywriter, concerning everything from errors and omissions in the work itself to breaches of NDAs, non-compete clauses, and so on.

There's a lot of discussion regarding those matters in this forum, with a lot of if focusing on whether or not an insurance is necessary in the first place. This question is, of course, important in its own right, but, while I'm personally still undecided on the issue, this is not my concern here.

Instead, for the sake of argument, let's say that a real risk exists when collaborating with agencies and companies, and that this risk is not sufficiently mitigated by, say, avoiding sue-happy US clients and high-risk content areas such as medicine and law, using your own contracts or introducing elements to client contracts limiting your liability, etc. In other words, let's for a moment assume that it's advisable to cover oneself with one or more insurances that aim to protect your assets in relation to claims arising from pissed off clients arguing that you've breached whatever (contractual) agreements, such as conditions regarding the quality of work, NDAs, non-competition, etc.

Now, if choosing to be insured and paying an often significant fee for being so, you'd want your insurance(s) to actually cover what is needed and not simply manifest a false sense of security.

And that's what I'm interested in hearing your views on here. Has anyone been able to find options for insurance that actually make sense in terms of 1) the kinds of issues that are covered and 2) the geographical scope of that coverage? I'm asking because I haven't.

I'm based in Denmark and have talked to several of the largest insurance companies here along with insurance providers specialized in the communications and linguistics sector. So far, I haven't been able to find anyone offering the kind of coverage I believe I'd ideally need for my freelancing activities as a relatively low-earning sole proprietor working with clients from a range of different countries.

While it's definitely possible to find solutions that cover SOME breaches under SOME circumstances, there just doesn't seem to be any (financially realistic) options out there.

In particular, the two aspects I mentioned above are what especially limit the usefulness of the insurance options I've found so far.

1) The kinds of violation covered by insurances
Personally, my main concern isn't clients suing me over the quality of my deliverables and consultancy--some of the exact kind of stuff a typical professional liability insurance would cover. In my experience, those kinds of issues are usually solved without much drama before they become a real problem, and I generally see this reflected in contractual agreements as well. For example, the client often simply insists on the right to return subpar translations that I'd then have to improve on, which I generally find acceptable.
What I do find scary and might especially want to insure myself over, however, is the way that contracts and other formalized agreements often contain pretty extreme, albeit vague clauses concerning non-disclosure, non-competition, intellectual property rights, and so on, often connected to hefty, sometimes unlimited fines if breached.
Based on my communication with mentioned Danish insurance companies, the professional liability or professional consultancy insurances apparently don't cover anything like that, which is the first thing that makes the options for insurance I've been able to find so far less attractive in my eyes.

2) The geographical validity of insurances
The Danish insurance companies I've talked to offer insurances that only work if disputes arise in Denmark and if the legal proceedings take place under Danish law. I suppose this might be fine if, say, all your clients are indeed Danish or if you work without the kind of client-biased contract that establishes that any disputes will be subject to the legal system of the country in which the client business is registered. However, I'm guessing that many of us work with clients from many different countries and also that mentioned client-biased contracts aren't that unusual. As far as I can see, this means that, in order for an insurance to be valid for a typical collaboration, you'd either have to convince the client to change the parts of the contract defining where and under which judicial system disputes take place or make sure you have an insurance valid for the particular countries in which your clients reside. I don't see either option as being particularly realistic--at least based on what I've experienced through my business over the years.

In conclusion, perhaps my ideas about the stuff I'd want insurances to cover are just misinformed? Or perhaps I've simply not done my research, and the insurance providers offering the kind of coverage I'm talking about do in fact exist? Perhaps something third?

In any case, I'd love your comments on this! For example, what you've decided is right for your own translation business regarding these things?
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Thomas T. Frost
Elena Feriani
 

Thomas T. Frost  Identity Verified
Membre (2014)
danois vers anglais
+ ...
Further complications Oct 8, 2020

I've been through much the same search for an insurance without finding a decent option.

There are further complications:

- Some insurers will only protect your assets in certain countries, so if you have e.g. savings or property outside your country of residence, it may not be protected in case of a claim.

- If you don't speak the language of your country of residence very well and local insurers don't provide binding insurance conditions in English (or an
... See more
I've been through much the same search for an insurance without finding a decent option.

There are further complications:

- Some insurers will only protect your assets in certain countries, so if you have e.g. savings or property outside your country of residence, it may not be protected in case of a claim.

- If you don't speak the language of your country of residence very well and local insurers don't provide binding insurance conditions in English (or another language you can understand), you cannot verify if the policy covers your needs, and insurers outside your country of residence are often reluctant to cover anyone outside their jurisdiction, or they refuse it outright. My German, for example, is not good enough to fully understand a German insurance contract.

A mainstream insurer such as Allianz only offers a way-too-expensive insurance meant for translation agencies and nothing for freelance translators, but an agency's risk is much higher than a freelancer's.

So far, I have no such insurance. As for contractual financial penalty clauses, I avoid them like the plague. If the agency will not relent, I don't sign.
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Sebastian Witte  Identity Verified
Allemagne
Local time: 23:01
Membre (2004)
allemand vers anglais
+ ...
@ Thomas T. Frost Oct 8, 2020

https://www.hiscox.de/geschaeftskunden/uebersetzer-versicherung

 

Thomas T. Frost  Identity Verified
Membre (2014)
danois vers anglais
+ ...
Hiscox Oct 8, 2020

Hiscox was one I looked at, but the German company does not provide insurance conditions in English and the British company would not protect assets in the EU countries I needed.

 

Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Allemagne
Local time: 23:01
allemand vers anglais
Boss-Assekuranz Oct 9, 2020

Is what I went with for Germany. I found them through the main German association of translators and interpreters, the Bundesverband der Dolmetscher und Übersetzer. I have a Vermögensschaden-Haftpflichtversicherung, which I think is the same thing as what is called errors and omissions insurance in English: It would cover things like the costs of a book having to be reprinted on account of an error made by me. The insurance also covers any legal costs and correspondence related to claims of th... See more
Is what I went with for Germany. I found them through the main German association of translators and interpreters, the Bundesverband der Dolmetscher und Übersetzer. I have a Vermögensschaden-Haftpflichtversicherung, which I think is the same thing as what is called errors and omissions insurance in English: It would cover things like the costs of a book having to be reprinted on account of an error made by me. The insurance also covers any legal costs and correspondence related to claims of this kind. I think it covers all countries in the world except for the US. It won't help Thomas because it's a German company selling to the German market, so they don't sign contracts in English, but it might help someone else.

The real question is whether all of this is a security blanket that offers me fantasy coverage for a few hundred euros per year or if it would really cover me financially and make my life much easier if a major claim of this kind actually comes up some day. I genuninely have no idea (and hope I never find out).

My suggestion to Espen would be to look at Danish associations for translators first and see if any of them have anything to say about the issue. That might offer a very simple solution to your problem.

You can also buy professional legal insurance, which might be more appropriate and helpful, because it would cover most issues related to damages and contractual penalties, but also a lot of other things that might come up.
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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Danemark
Local time: 23:01
Membre (2003)
danois vers anglais
+ ...
Talk to Kommunikation og Sprog / Union of Communication and Language Professionals Oct 9, 2020

I was a member of Kommunikation og Sprog, the Union of Communication and Language Professionals in Denmark. They have a scheme with Tryg, which does not cost a lot, but provides cover for things like fire and theft, computer virus and hacking, loss of earnings due to illness, as well as professional liability insurance.
https://kommunikationogsprog.dk/bliv-fo
... See more
I was a member of Kommunikation og Sprog, the Union of Communication and Language Professionals in Denmark. They have a scheme with Tryg, which does not cost a lot, but provides cover for things like fire and theft, computer virus and hacking, loss of earnings due to illness, as well as professional liability insurance.
https://kommunikationogsprog.dk/bliv-forsikret-gennem-kommunikation-og-sprog

A translation error that is technically very small can still cost a lot of money if you are unlucky, and I was definitely glad to have the insurance. Think of an incorrect decimal, something like that... Luckily I have never made claims on my insurance, but you never know!

I started my freelance career with insurance through the CIoL, but as I do not live in the UK, the underwriters would not accept me in the scheme - it is apparently necessary now to take out insurance in the country where you live. I never managed to become a State Authorized Translator, but for a time I had a personally tailored scheme with Tryg, based on the agreement they had with State Authorized Translators. Later, K&S set up a scheme for members like me who were not state authorized, but did similar work.

Unfortunately Denmark dropped state authorization in 2015, and I am partly retired, so I am not fully up to date with the details, but in your place I would start with K&S.

I now have my professional liability insurance with Topsikring, as I no longer qualify for the other scheme. It is tied in with our other family insurance, but I am covered if I need it. You could talk to them too, and see what suits you best.

I have done a fair amount of legal and medical translation, and in these days when MT is taking over the routine work, it is more necessary than ever to specialise in fields where the machines still are not good enough.

I now work mostly for Danish agencies and one in Norway, but during my career I have worked with agencies from lots of EU countries, including the UK... and I still work for UK clients occasionally (when they pay reasonable fees).
The insurance scheme with K&S and Tryg covered work for European clients, but not for clients in the USA.

I write UK English and rarely take on anything for clients in the USA. When I do, it is basic stuff, sometines birth certificates or standard personal documents, and I draw attention to the fact that my insurance does not cover.

Under no circumstances will I sign those woolly 'hold harmless' clauses. Over the years, I have translated numerous contracts and terms and conditions for big companies, where they specify that they are not liable for indirect losses, goodwill, loss of earnings and so on and so forth. They often limit their liability, and in practice a one-person business simply does not have the assets or insurance cover to honour unlimited claims.
I try to negotiate with prospective clients, and I have occasionally persuaded them to agree when I have deleted clauses that I cannot honour. I believe it is necessary to stand up to them, and not accept the argument that 'it will never happen anyway'. There is always a first time, and I do not want to be the one to fight it out... If the client does not agree, then there is no deal with me!

There are still clients who are happy with a couple of pages of terms - reminding each other of codes of conduct, confidentiality, delivery and payment terms etc. and that should be perfectly adequate.

Have a good weekend, and best of luck!
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Chris S
Vi Pukite
Michael Wetzel
 

Espen Malling  Identity Verified
Danemark
Local time: 23:01
Membre (2019)
anglais vers danois
+ ...
AUTEUR DU FIL
Thanks for all the great suggestions--it's a complex world out there! Oct 12, 2020

Thomas T. Frost wrote:

I've been through much the same search for an insurance without finding a decent option.

There are further complications:

- Some insurers will only protect your assets in certain countries, so if you have e.g. savings or property outside your country of residence, it may not be protected in case of a claim.

- If you don't speak the language of your country of residence very well and local insurers don't provide binding insurance conditions in English (or another language you can understand), you cannot verify if the policy covers your needs, and insurers outside your country of residence are often reluctant to cover anyone outside their jurisdiction, or they refuse it outright. My German, for example, is not good enough to fully understand a German insurance contract.

A mainstream insurer such as Allianz only offers a way-too-expensive insurance meant for translation agencies and nothing for freelance translators, but an agency's risk is much higher than a freelancer's.

So far, I have no such insurance. As for contractual financial penalty clauses, I avoid them like the plague. If the agency will not relent, I don't sign.


Thanks, Thomas! Wow, challenges do indeed abound--hadn't really thought about the issues you describe besides shit often being ridiculously expensive (besides Allianz, HDI International would be another company that few freelancers would be able to afford).


Michael Wetzel wrote:

My suggestion to Espen would be to look at Danish associations for translators first and see if any of them have anything to say about the issue. That might offer a very simple solution to your problem.

You can also buy professional legal insurance, which might be more appropriate and helpful, because it would cover most issues related to damages and contractual penalties, but also a lot of other things that might come up.


Appreciate it, Michael! Nice suggestions. However, I already tried contacting associations of that kind (though I might try again), and I'm also not really in the market for a full-fledged professional insurance.


Christine Andersen wrote:

I was a member of Kommunikation og Sprog, the Union of Communication and Language Professionals in Denmark. They have a scheme with Tryg, which does not cost a lot, but provides cover for things like fire and theft, computer virus and hacking, loss of earnings due to illness, as well as professional liability insurance.
https://kommunikationogsprog.dk/bliv-forsikret-gennem-kommunikation-og-sprog

A translation error that is technically very small can still cost a lot of money if you are unlucky, and I was definitely glad to have the insurance. Think of an incorrect decimal, something like that... Luckily I have never made claims on my insurance, but you never know!

....

The insurance scheme with K&S and Tryg covered work for European clients, but not for clients in the USA.


Thanks so much for your input, Christine! Sounds like you have quite a lot of experience with these things.

First of all, a general professional insurance isn't really what I'm looking for at the moment. And similarly, as mentioned, securing myself in relation to errors and omissions isn't my primary concern (be that wise or not).

You mention Kommunikation & Sprog. They (and their insurance provider Conect) and Tryg are actually the actors I've talked to most in relation to this research process. However, and as I tried to describe in my original post, neither are seemingly able to offer professional insurances that cover 1) more general contractual breaches--e.g., concerning non-disclosure and non-compete clauses--and 2) disputes arising abroad/processing under foreign law.

In terms of the latter, the thing is that even if an insurance covers, say, "work for European clients", the validity of the insurance might still hinge on the fact that a dispute with a foreign client has to arise in Denmark and be subject to Danish law--again, something that in my experience doesn't fit with the contractual agreements offered by most non-Danish clients.

In my eyes, it's a pretty significant nuance that isn't necessarily clearly communicated when negotiating an insurance with the provider.

In any case, thanks again for all the input. I'll definitely take a lot of it into consideration moving forward.


 


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