All You Need to Know About Contractors Business Insurance

TLTR: This article answers what contractors business insurance is, who independent contractors are, the most important types of coverage they need, how much they cost. It also highlights potential risk scenarios the they might face.

Working for yourself in your own terms might sound like a dream. You choose your clients, you decide on your working hours, and your make your own schedules. It makes it easier for you to balance your work with your personal life—pursuing your hobbies and interests and spending time with your family and friends.

On the other hand, it also means an increase of responsibilities. You need to source clients, manage hours, create your schedule, and manage your finances accordingly. When it comes to managing your money, every independent contractor needs independent contractor’s business insurance in order to avert risks and stay financially secure. 

In this blog

What is Contractors Business Insurance?

As a contractor, your clients expect you to put their construction plans into action, meet deadlines, and ensure that both micro and macro projects see the light of day. All these responsibilities can expose your business to unique risks.

Contractors business insurance can help you protect your professional assets and employees against unexpected events. If one of your clients were to take legal actions against you, or if your asset were to experience some sort of damage due to a covered peril, you can find a peace of mind knowing that you are safe.

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What Exactly is an Independent Contractor?

An independent contractor is a freelancer who performs a specified job for a third party, as a non-employee. Because of this non-employee status, independent contractors cannot rely on companies to provide them with insurance or to be part of their existing business insurance plan. 

This extends to many different employment benefits, such as health insurance or employer-sponsored retirement accounts.

The Types of Independent Contractors Who Need Business Liability Insurance

As reported by Forbes, here’s a roundup of some of the types of independent contractors who would benefit from liability insurance:

  • Plumbers 
  • Carpenters 
  • Electricians 
  • Independent construction contractors 
  • Painters 
  • House and carpet cleaners 
  • Freelance writers and editors 
  • Freelance photographers
  • Graphic designers 
  • Hair stylists and salon professionals 
  • Independent business consultants 
  • PR consultants 
  • Independent marketing consultants
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General Liability Insurance for Contractors

The most important type of coverage in contractor business insurance is definitely general liability insurance. This is a common coverage for all businesses, big or small.

The Hartford provides a short list of how this insurance can help protect you as an independent contractor from covered losses. For example: 

  • A customer visits your storefront, falls down, and suffers an injury, general liability insurance can help cover the customer’s medical costs. 
  • One of your employees ends up damaging a customer’s property, general liability insurance can help cover repair costs. 
  • A competitor files a claim against you alleging slander or libel, general liability insurance can help cover legal fees.

Costs of General Liability Insurance for Contractors

Different factors affect the cost of general liability insurance, including:

  • The size of your business operations. This refers to the number of locations and your overall volume of business. 
  • The type of business you own. For example, an independent caterer would pay more for liability insurance than an independent video editor due to higher associated risks with serving food to numerous people on a regular basis, versus working at a job with little or no opportunity to cause physical harm to customers.  
  • Years of experience. Insurance companies tend to see you as less of a risk the longer your business has been in operation. 
  • Number of employees. The more employees you hire out, the larger your contracting business and therefore the more risk involved. 
  • Location. Your insurance rates could be higher if your business is in an area that’s especially open to risk—a  high-crime neighborhood, for instance. 
  • Limits and deductibles.  A higher deductible yields lower premiums, and vice versa.  
  • Claims history. Having a history of few or no insurance claims can lead to lower insurance rates. Conversely, a lot of past claims can mean higher insurance rates. 

Why Does an Independent Contractor Need General Liability Insurance?

General liability is the number one claimed coverage in all types of commercial business insurance. The Hartford analyzed a million claims and found that about 40% of small business claims came under general liability. 

If you’re not already convinced, here are three reasons this coverage is a must-have:

  • It protects you and your business. Independent contractors have the same legal obligations and liability exposures as larger firms. They can be sued for damaging client property, causing bodily harm, or advertising injury. General liability insurance helps cover legal fees and damages resulting from a lawsuit. 
  • Your clients expect you to have it. Your clients may require you to have general liability insurance before they sign a contract with you. Without this insurance, they could be held responsible for alleged wrongdoing or accidents caused by you or your work. 
  • It may be required by law. State regulations sometimes require independent contractors in certain industries, such as construction, to carry general liability coverage. Most often, it’s best for both you and your client to obtain separate general liability insurance policies. 
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Additional Insurance Types You May Need

Property Insurance: When it comes to insuring your commercial property, there are a number of solutions to help keep it protected. Popular options include business renter’s insurance and BOP insurance. These exist to protect your business property as well as the business assets stored there.

Inland Marine Insurance: Inland Marine Insurance provides protection for property that is currently under construction as well as the equipment used during construction. This includes equipment in transit, or in storage.

Cyber Risk Insurance: This coverage provides protection against data breaches and other cyber exposures such as viruses, cyber-theft, and other online illegal activity. 

Environmental and Contractors Professional Practice: This coverage protects contractors against professional and pollution liability risks resulting from professional acts, errors or omissions. Undisclosed pollution claims are extremely common and buying this coverage can protect you from it.  

Owners and Contractors Protective Liability: This coverage protects owners’ liability for ongoing operations performed by the designated contractor. This also includes claims against the owners’ own negligence.  

Railroad Protective Liability: This coverage is specific to contractors who perform work on or around railroad tracks, or on the premises of owned railroad property. 

Business income insurance: This coverage helps you recover lost income. If you are ever unable to open your business because of a loss covered by the policy—for example, a hurricane—this coverage can reimburse you. Business income insurance is also known as business interruption insurance

Commercial auto insurance:  This will protect you in the event of an accident that occurs when driving for your business. Hired and non-owned auto coverage will protect you if the car you drive for work is a rental.

Average Total Costs of Contractors Business Insurance

The average cost of general liability insurance for independent contractors is $29 per month, or $344 per year. When combined with commercial property insurance in a business owner’s policy (BOP), independent contractors pay an average of $42 per month, or $500 annually. 

According to Tech Insurance, 90% of independent contractors pay less than $50 per month, or $600 per year, for commercial general liability insurance. However, the exact costs will depend entirely on the type of coverage you need. Different jobs have different levels of risk. Also, it’s important to note, the total cost of insurance will always be dependent on factors such as: 

  • Credit score 
  • Previous lawsuits 
  • Criminal history 
  • Years of experience 
  • Number of workers hired 

Do I Need Contractors Business Insurance If I have Builders Risk Insurance?

It depends! Both contractors liability insurance and builders risk insurance cover similar sets of conditions, types of losses and involved entities in a building project.  

However, builders risk insurance if generally taken out by the owner of the project, whereas contractors liability insurance is taken out by the contractor themselves.  

Additionally, contractors business insurance can be taken out for building improvement or renovation projects, but may not be available for new projects with no existing physical structure.  Builders risk insurance, on the other hand, can be taken out without having an existing structure.

In Conclusion,

In order to run your small business smoothly and risk-free, contractor’s business insurance is a must-have. It keeps you protected from unexpected losses. It also protects third-party hires such as architects, designers, and engineers if they were to make any errors during the job. With the right precautions taken, and the right insurance, working for yourself can be a low-risk endeavor.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is It Ok to Hire A Contractor Who Isn't Insured?

An independent contractor without insurance can potentially be a financial risk to you depending on the nature of the job. It is not wise to hire anyone who is uninsured, but relatively low-risk jobs such as a freelance graphic designers or blog writers are less likely to cause you unexpected loss than a high-risk task such as a business consultant or a plumber.

What Is Contractors Equipment Insurance?

Contractors equipment insurance is an insurance policy designed to cover damaged, broken, or missing contracting equipment. Besides covering equipment, the policy can also cover small tools, employee’s equipment and clothing, as well as loaned equipment.

If A Company Hires An Independent Contractor, Who is Liable?

The hiring party is not liable for the independent contractor, unless the work in inherently dangerous or unlawful, or if there was negligence on the hiring party’s side. For example, if a body double for an actor is made to do something that puts them at risk of physical harm and they are, in fact, injured, the hiring party is liable.

What is Contractors Errors and Omissions Coverage?

It is a form of liability coverage that covers contractors from potential liability claims as a result of allegations of negligence and errors in their professional service.    

What Is the Difference Between An Independent Contractor And A Self-Employed Person?

Independent contractors also technically work for themselves, but they are still hired and paid by another party. A self-employed person earns money but is never hired or employed by another person. For example, a painter who sells commissioned work is an independent contractor. A painter who sells paintings in their own gallery is self-employed.

Are Subcontractors Covered Under Contractors Business Insurance?

Contractors business insurance generally does not cover subcontractors and independent contractors. It means that your contractors insurance will likely not cover their mistakes or protect your customers from their actions. Furthermore, it will also not cover any accidents or damage they cause.

So, consult with your insurance agent to understand what your insurance covers.

What Are The Best Companies to Buy Insurance From As An independent Contractor?

According to Investopedia, the six best independent contractor insurance companies of 2021 are:

  • Best Overall: The Hartford 
  • New Businesses: Hiscox 
  • Fast Liability Coverage: Next Insurance 
  • Professional Services: Travelers 
  • Risk Industries: Nationwide 
  • In-Home Daycare: Markel 

How Do Independent Contractors Get Health Insurance?

It’s best practice to purchase your own health insurance plan. Even if you are younger or have no existing health complications, having health insurance can save you from owing a fortune in medical expenses. You can do it through multiple online portals, or reach out to an agent. According to studies done by Statista in 2019, a majority of independent contractors get their insurance on their own, while 10% of insured contractors were on family plans.

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