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Freelancing – A Risky Business?

Any freelancer or contractor working through their own limited company will have experienced the complexity of purchasing business insurance products.  One of the most common questions we’re asked by contractors and freelancers is simply ‘what insurance do I actually need?’

Firstly, when freelancing, you need to establish the risks your business faces and your legal obligations.  But let’s also consider your clients, the assumptions they make and the (often standardised) contracts they will expect you to comply with.

  • Professional Indemnity insurance is vital if any errors you make or negligent advice you give leads to financial loss or damages the reputation of those relying on your expertise.  Including legal defence costs and any damages awarded to the claimant it’s a crucial insurance to hold when expertise is what your clients are paying you for.
  • Whether you work from a client’s premises or have visitors to your own place of work, you have a duty to protect anyone who might be affected by your activities.  Public Liability insurance would provide cover if someone was injured or property was damaged as a result of your actions in carrying out your duties.
  • Employers’ Liability insurance is compulsory for almost all UK businesses with limited exceptions. Freelancers and contractors who don’t employ anyone are exempt,  however, many clients’ standard contracts are drawn up without consideration for the specific legal requirements which apply and will simply insist upon this type of cover.
  • Occupational Personal Accident insurance protects you financially if you become unable to work due to injury as a result of an accident at work.  As a freelancer you will likely have very limited financial support available while you are unable to work.  By paying a weekly benefit while you recover, or a lump sum if you are permanently unable to work, Personal Accident cover is highly recommended for freelancers and contractors.
  • Directors’ and Officers’ Liability insurance gives you financial protection as a company director where you could be held personally liable if you fail in any of the numerous responsibilities you accept to run and represent a company in an appropriate manner.  Situations where a claim can arise range from financial misrepresentation to alleged legislative breaches.

By understanding your main exposures and contractual obligations we’ve created a package of business insurance designed specifically for freelancers and contractors.  For further information visit www.kpsol.co.uk

Controlling Persons Legislation Abandoned

The Chancellor finally brought the speculation around the government’s proposed Controlling Persons legislation to a close when he delivered his autumn statement to Commons yesterday.

“The Government has decided not to proceed with the proposal to tax those who meet the definition of a controlling person at source. This is because HMRC’s new approach to policing IR35, along with the measures introduced in the public sector this year, are sufficient to prevent the loss through disguised employment in this way”

It would, however, be naïve to assume that the spotlight which has been so frequently turned to the tax arrangements of freelancers and contractors is finally seeking a new target.  The chancellor finished by stating that “The Government will keep this area under review.”

Whether the new approach to the policing of IR35 relates to the recent administrative reforms by HMRC (in May), or a new statutory amendment, is unclear and a point on which an HMRC representative requested further clarification from the Treasury, which declined to comment.

Regardless, it’s clear that the legislation is here to stay, along with the recent reforms which are still officially being implemented on a ‘trial’ basis.

It seems that the debate in respect of taxation reforms is far from over for Freelancers and Contractors but the abandonment of the proposed Controlling persons’ legislation  is welcome and positive news which comes at a time when Freelancers and Contractors are already facing increasing burdens brought about by legislative changes.

How Do Freelancers And Contractors Keep In Touch?

Kingsbridge MD, Steve Wynne, tests his reactions at Gastech

It’s been a busy few weeks for KPSol, both in and out of the office.

We’ve been raising money for Breast Cancer Awareness, attending exhibitions and strategy planning for fast approaching 2013.

All of this activity means we’ve been connecting with colleagues, partners and clients more than ever and I’ve been thinking about our Freelancer and Contractor clients who don’t always have the luxury of someone sitting across a desk from them.

So how do Freelancers and Contractors connect with one another?

One sector that appears to be actively encouraging networking amongst its peers is that of the Oil and Gas sector.  What would outwardly appear to be an insular career path is just not so when it comes to Oil and Gas Freelancers and Contractors.  KPSol are regularly invited to attend conferences, events and trade shows within this industry and we were delighted when, on the 8th October, Gastech returned to London after 40 years.

Our stand proved to be a popular installation with the inclusion of a reaction testing machine, used by Formula One teams for driver training.  It wasn’t easy to resist the challenge, as you’ll see from the image of our very own Managing Director, Steve Wynne.

Professor Brian Cox OBE, Research Fellow, Author, Broadcaster, CERN Project & BBC Television had this to say about the conference and exhibition;

“To be able to talk to the people at the cutting edge, you know, you’ve got your people here who are important, influential and employers of people that I and my colleagues in the university sector educate, so for me, that’s a real value.”

However, not all industries hold regular events and what of Freelancers and Contractors working offshore, overseas or those who simply can’t afford to take the time away from their businesses.

Social media is one option but it’s also a hotly debated communication method amongst the business community and this includes Freelancers and Contractors.  One school of thought and the generic advice has been to only connect with those companies that could offer you a contract immediately.  The thinking is that if you are using social media as a marketing tool, then you should only target potential clients and that other connections won’t lead to paid work.

But who knows where your Freelance and Contractor connections could lead?  Today’s entrepreneur may well be the next Steve Jobs or your Freelancer contacts may make the move back into a traditional environment and a position that could provide you with future contracts.

Freelancers have many and varied skills which often complement each other.  Knowing someone you can team up with could make the difference between you winning a contract or not.  Knowing your industry and your peers and keeping a regular dialogue with them also means that you’re first in line when it comes to work referrals.

Of course, like any networking method, relationships take time to develop and if you view social media purely as a method of generating new business you’re likely to become disillusioned fairly rapidly.  But if you’re looking for a way to stay connected to your peers, industry news and for a method of getting a quick and candid opinion, it could well a medium worth exploring.

UK Business News Dominated By Contractor Debate

Debates around Freelancing and Contracting have been headlining in the UK business news over the past fortnight with tensions running high and independent research showing that many Freelancers and Contractors are fast losing confidence in the current government and their seeming lack of support for those working for themselves.

The proposed Controlling Person’s Legislation I mentioned in the 25th September blog entry is causing unease amongst Media and Public Sector Contractors and Freelancers and this seems to have dominated the front pages of the broadsheets this month.

Matchtech, the number one engineering and recruitment company in the UK, have also released the results of a new Confidence Index and it seems that UK engineers are now losing confidence in the government and their policy on engineering.  More than half of those surveyed stated that they’re not confident that their businesses will continue to invest locally and two in five are seriously considering electively working abroad in the next five years.

It’s not easy to see how this debate will be resolved unless there is a dramatic shift in the government’s attitudes towards the Freelancing Community.  The consensus amongst Freelancers and Contractors is that without such a shift we risk seriously damaging this vital sector of UK commerce and industry.

New Website for Freelancer and Contractor Insurance

We’re always looking for ways to simplify the process of obtaining freelancer and contractor insurance and we think our relaunched website does just that.

With all of the functionality our clients have come to rely on and some exciting new features, we believe you won’t find a simpler way to get cover for your business.  Live chat allows you to connect instantly with a member of our team and our Insurance Guides and FAQs make it easier than ever to get access to the information you need as a Freelancer or Contractor.

Combine this with Instant Quotes and Policy Documents within 10 minutes and you’ll find kpsol.co.uk an invaluable resource.

You can also take advantage of our Price Promise Guarantee and Refer a Friend incentive, making KPSol’s Contractor and Freelancer Insurance Package the best possible cover at the lowest possible price.

We hope you enjoy navigating the new site.  We’re always looking for ways we can improve and we’d love to hear from you if you have any comments.

 

Looking on the Bright Side – Optimistic News for Contractors

This morning my local news station reported that today’s top story was ‘rain’.  I felt immense sympathy for those who have been affected by the recet downpours, whilst also admiring BBC Points West for their efforts to pad out an, otherwise slow, news day.  In KPSol’s corner of the South West the sun is making a tentative appearance and news is anything but slow, so we’re looking on the bright side with some positive news for contractors.

Significant Opportunity for Oil and Gas Freelancers and Contractors 

Many of those who are covered by KPSol’s Freelancer and Contractor Insurance work in the Oil and Gas industry and might like to take a look at Decomworld’s North Sea Decommissioning Market Sentiment Report.  They’ve identified an opportunity for Freelancers and Contractors working on North Sea projects as many Oil and Gas installations reach the end of their life expectancies.  From a survey of over 100 offshore experts almost half estimate the decommissioning market to be worth in excess of £40 billion with contract opportunities set to rise significantly.

REC Report Speaks out for Freelancers and Contractors

The REC’s (Recruitment and Employment Confederation) Flexible Work Commission was formed to explore the business case for flexible working, having established that Freelancing, Contracting and other flexible working options  were a significant factor in keeping people in work during the financial crisis.

Their recently published  2012 report makes encouraging reading as they speak out for Freelancers and Contractors, ultimately stating that the government needs to do more to support this vital sector of the UK’s workforce.

The report suggests tax reforms aimed at encouraging flexible working, rather than creating obstacles for Freelancers and Contractors (such as IR35) and makes a recommendation that the proposed Controlling Persons Legislation should be ‘scrapped’.

Hopefully we’ve brightened your day with some positive news. If you have an opinion on any of these stories why not join in the conversation and add your comments.

Don’t forget that KPSol are still celebrating our birthday and giving away some great prizes until the end of October.

 

Contractor Insurer attends Ignite! – 9-10 October 2012

Having travelled the world for the last 40 years, this year Gastech is back on home turf at London’s ExCeL.  In 2014 the event moves to Korea so if you haven’t already, book your place now as who knows when it will be back!

Visit KPSol at ignite!
9-10 October 2012

2012 sees an exciting change to the world’s premier gas conference and exhibition with the inclusion of ignite!, the new Energy Recruitment Event taking place alongside Gastech and KPSol will be there.

In partnership with OilCareers.com ignite! is one of the leading Recruitment Shows for the Energy world, supported by influential companies and significant industry bodies. Co-located at Gastech, ignite! will give the foremost oil & gas companies and qualified job seekers the opportunity to meet one another face to face.

That’s where we come in; visit Zubair and Lauren at stand i80 to find out how KPSol can take the pain and confusion out of insurance for freelancers and contractors.  Whether you’re a recruiter or an industry professional who’s looking for contracts we can simply and affordably address what cover a freelancer or contractor should hold and with our price guarantee, we’ll make sure it’s available at the best possible value.

Meet the experts face to face and be ready for a few surprises as we dispel the myth that insurance is dull!

Ignite! Runs alongside Gastech on the 9th and 10th of October and both exhibitions are free to industry professionals.

Prompt Payment Code to Benefit Contractors

 

Prompt Payment Code set to improve cash flow for small businesses and contractors;

Are your clients keeping a vice-like grip on your finances?

In tough financial times, cash flow is key and never more so than for freelancers, consultants and contractors.  No matter how successful your business is, the risk of your clients failing to settle invoices on time is ever present.  However, last week, the Forum of Private Business voiced their support for a significant new government scheme which is hosted and administered by the Institute Of Credit Management and the Department for Business Innovation and Skills.  The Prompt Payment Code is a voluntary code of conduct to which large companies are being encouraged to sign up.  The pledges are simple and to the point and the code is being heralded as the first concrete proposal to tackle this issue in decades.

But what of the other risks to your livelihood?  Could you afford to pay the legal costs, compensation and even medical bills resulting from a client making a claim against you?  Whether for injury, damage to goods or property or even loss of revenue due to advice and recommendations you have made or actions you have taken, your business and personal finances could be at risk should you be found answerable.

Thankfully it’s not all doom and gloom.  KPSol have worked with our clients and government legislation to tailor a complete and affordable package of insurance to protect you and your livelihood and to put you one step ahead of your competition.  By holding our Freelancer Insurance you’re covered.  With one simple policy you’re protected by a comprehensive range of cover, from Professional Indemnity, right down to Personal Accident.  It’s affordable and you can even pay monthly meaning you needn’t skimp on cover, even if your clients haven’t signed up to the Prompt Payment Code Yet.

 

KPSol 5 Year Anniversary!

We are pleased to announce that June 2012 marks an exciting anniversary for KPSol- our 5th birthday!

 

This is an exciting milestone for us and reminds us of our success to date, including recently being awarded the prestigious ‘Chartered Insurance Broker’ status by the Chartered Insurance Institute.  We are proud that we have continued to grow over the last 5 years despite the challenging economic climate and competition from large insurers and comparison sites.  We now employ 12 employees and have helped over 6000 freelance professionals and their clients to stay safe.

 

Our success wouldn’t have been possible without our customers, so to celebrate we are offering an array of prizes over the next 5 months, both to loyal customers and to potential customers who obtain a quote.  These include 2 hospitality tickets to a major UK golfing event, iPads, Kindles, free policies, Love2Shop vouchers and digital cameras.  Anyone is free to enter, simply click here to get a quote for our great value package and you’ll automatically be entered into the monthly prize draws.

 

We will also be holding a well deserved celebration event for our staff to mark this special occasion and thank them for their hard work.  Keep an eye out for pictures on our blog!

 

 

 

Why You Should Hold Freelancer Insurance For Your Own Benefit, Not Just The Clients!

Depending on your industry and profession, there may be a legal obligation to hold insurance, but many freelancers are not required by law to have any insurance at all and this can instantly seem like an easy place to save money when trying to ensure maximum returns from your freelancing activities.  However, freelancer insurance isn’t all just about protecting your client, it also be about protecting yourself!

Insurance is often required to satisfy certain obligations in a contract between you and your client, but rather than seeing this as an unwanted cost, you should consider the benefits that it brings you for yourself.

Consider the risks and exposures that you place yourself under every time you complete work for a client.  For example, do you provide professional advice to people that they may act upon and make costly decisions from it?  Do you visit your clients at their premises where it is possible you could cause an accident or damage?  Is there a chance that you work could somehow damage your clients reputation, business or even cause some kind of physical harm if something went wrong?

It is well worth asking yourself all these questions as if any of these issues were to arise, it is not simply your client’s problem, it will in fact become your problem extremely quickly!

By holding freelancer insurance, you can protect yourself against potential problems that could cost you serious money, or even your entire livelihood.   If a client trips or falls as a result of your activities and you do not have the relevant insurance, you could be liable to cover any compensation awarded.  This could be a few hundred pounds in the case of a small injury, or it could arise to tens or even hundreds of thousands of pounds if the accident was to be serious.

Another common and highly recommended protection would be professional indemnity, especially if you are in the business of consulting or giving advice.  While from the outset it may seem that the worst that could happen from giving bad advice would be to lose a client, the reality is actually a lot worse.  Without adequate insurance, you could personally be held responsible for loss of revenue, damage to reputation and branding and even loss of potential future profits.  Once again, when you consider the small cost of this insurance compared with the outrageously high potential figures involved in NOT having it, it quickly makes sense that taking out this insurance is actually more about protecting yourself, rather than the client.

Don’t fail to remember as well that by having insurance in the first place, regardless of any issues arising, can benefit you as a freelancer straight away.  It shows clients that you are a true professional and gives potential new customers the confidence to try your services without being left high and dry in the event of a problem. In the long run this can help you improve your reputation and standing in the industry and win new business that you may have previously lost out on.