Whether you’re working directly with a client or through a staffing firm, if you’re a systems integrator or custom programmer, you’ll probably have at least one client who requires you to carry some level of insurance. Maybe you have a few employees, or maybe you’re a one-person shop. Either way, you might wonder if all that coverage is really necessary.
You already know the bottom line: If your client says it’s necessary, you’ve got to have the proper coverage in order to get the work. The good news is that in almost all cases, the insurance coverage your client requires can be both affordable and can reduce liability for your business.
Typically, clients want insurance for software developers, system integrators and programmers to include some or all of the following four types of coverage:
General liability insurance
General liability insurance covers damage to property or injury to people. Client companies often require every vendor – from plumbers to I.T. contractors – to show proof of general liability insurance . In some cases, the mandate comes from the client’s risk managers, who want to reduce the company’s risk of liability and financial loss due to lawsuits.
If you are a systems integrator, you know there is always the risk that you or an employee might accidentally damage hardware, or put a foot through a drop ceiling while pulling cable. If you are concerned about damage to your client's equipment while you are installing, configuring, or just moving it, you will want to make sure your general liability policy includes property coverage. This is actually coverage for your own business property but extends to your client's property "in your care, custody, or control." Liability insurance package with property coverage for systems integrators gives you peace of mind that if an accident happens, you're covered.
If you are a software developer, software engineer or programmer, even if you work at your own home or office, there’s still a risk that client equipment in your possession could be damaged. General liability insurance that is packaged with coverage for your property and for software developers and engineers, as well as programmers, also provides confidence that you're covered if you accidentally drop the client’s server or spill coffee onto a laptop.
Read more about how general liability insurance protects you and your business.
Professional liability insurance
Professional liability insurance is similar to malpractice insurance for software developers, programmers, and system integrators. It covers you for errors and omissions you make on the job. Clients require it because they know that people make mistakes.
Your client’s greatest risk in hiring you is that your mistakes could spawn a lawsuit or financial loss. For example, if an error you make results in data loss, and your client spends hundreds of thousands of dollars to reconstruct those data files, your client wants to make sure that you can compensate the company.
Professional liability insurance for software engineers and programmers just makes sense. Without it, you’re 100 percent liable for all legal defense costs if your client claims you’ve made errors or omissions. In many cases, a misunderstanding is all it takes to get sued. Once a client alleges negligence and communications break down, your legal expenses can begin to mount.
Read more about how professional liability insurance protects you and your business.
Workers’ compensation insurance
Workers’ compensation insurance is required in nearly every state if you have employees. If you are a one-person company, in most states you can opt out of workers' compensation coverage. But your client may require you to carry this coverage even if your state does not. The reason: In some states, if you’re injured on the job, your client must automatically cover you with its own workers’ compensation policy . Additionally, in some cases, your client’s insurance carrier will bill the client to cover all subcontractors that don’t provide their own certificate of coverage. Both situations mean higher premiums for your client.
If you work as a systems integrator, you’re probably used to lifting heavy equipment and climbing ladders, and you know there’s always potential for injury. If you’re a programmer, software developer or software engineer considering insurance, keep in mind that you may be at risk for carpal tunnel syndrome. Workers’ compensation insurance for systems integrators, as well as programmers and software developers and engineers, covers medical costs, plus disability and compensation in the event of such on-the-job injuries.
If you have employees, workers’ compensation insurance makes sense. If you’re a solo practitioner with your own health and disability insurance, it may be redundant – but you may need it to get the work.
Read more about how workers’ compensation insurance can protect you and your employees.
Fidelity bond coverage
Aptly described as employee dishonesty coverage, this type of insurance compensates your client if you or your employees steal money or property on the job. In particular, clients in the banking and financial services industries are likely to ask software engineers, software developers, system integrators and programmers to carry fidelity bond insurance because they’re entrusting them with sensitive information, such as customer Social Security and account numbers.
Most self-employed I.T. professionals know that client information is safe with them. But if you have employees or subcontractors handling valuable property or customer information – no matter how much you trust them – anything can happen, and if it does, you could be held liable. A laptop could go missing, or a programmer working on a financial services network could steal banking customers’ account numbers and passwords to take money from their accounts. If that happens, fidelity bond insurance compensates your client for the missing money or property.
Read more about how fidelity bond insurance protects you and your company.
Writtten by Brenna Lemieux - check her out at Google+ or Twitter