Not too long ago, if you met someone at a party, asked them what they did and they replied ‘I’m in IT’, you’d have a pretty good idea of what that meant. Computer stuff, basically.
Ask the same person that question today and you might get an answer like ‘I design networks’ or ‘I develop apps’ or even ‘I’m an SEO and Google analytics consultant specializing in social media and online PR’.
That’ll have you nodding thoughtfully and reaching for another drink for sure. And maybe questioning the type of parties you get invited to…
So what does all this mean? Well, it goes to show that there isn’t really such a thing as an ‘IT guy’ anymore. As technology develops and becomes more specialized, the skills and expertise required to understand and apply that technology become more specialized too.
Granted, any two consultants might be considered IT people and might both work with technology, but the risks they face could be completely different.
For example, a web designer could be faced with claims for copyright and intellectual property infringement; a software consultant could be faced with claims for breach of contract due to failure to deliver software of the correct specification.
Two roles, same industry, two specific areas of cover needed.
Now, most decent insurers are aware of this and – all credit to them – have designed errors and omissions (professional liability) policies that will respond to the kind of claims that most techy-folk face. It’s still worth having a long, hard think about the work you do, however, and checking that the coverage you have is the coverage you need.
If you have an errors and omissions policy already in place, check the wording to make sure it’s IT-specific rather than miscellaneous or generic. Ideally, it should include cover for claims arising from:
• Supplying things like hardware or software
• Use of third-party content (like pictures, video or music)
• Negligent virus transmission
Also, check the level of coverage is enough. You don’t want to be left high and dry should a client sue you for a sum greater than the level of indemnity your policy provides.
How do you know how much is enough? Think about these things: if you make a mistake, what’s the worst-case-scenario amount of money required to put it right? How expensive could it be to defend yourself if you’re dragged into a dispute? (Answer: very!)
And finally, just to be sure, it’s a good idea to talk it through with someone who knows. Someone like a errors and omissions insurance broker for example.