Are health insurance and dental coverage the only benefits available to freelance workers? Discover these five additional protections for freelancers and how you can benefit from them.
For many freelancers, health insurance and dental coverage are the holy grail of benefits: Life-changing, hard to come by, and periodically provoking the fear that choosing the wrong plan will lead to immediate catastrophe.
Happily, Freelancers Union has taken the horror out of navigating the health insurance and dental insurance markets by carefully curating plans that meet your needs and fit your budget.
But even if you have healthcare coverage, you may still be missing out on safety nets that can make a huge difference in your freelance life, especially if you have a family. Though freelancing has plenty of upsides, few freelancers enjoy the extended protections that come with many 9-5 jobs—401Ks, sick leave, and a guaranteed paycheck.
Protecting yourself as a freelancer means more than just an annual checkup. Make sure you’re covered.
1. Protect Your Business
Required by many clients, liability insurance protects you from the financial burden of a lawsuit or other claim, regardless of whether the lawsuit is your fault. Let’s say you’re building a website for a notoriously nitpicky client, and the site gets hacked on the highest traffic day of the year. Or you’re hired to photograph a gala event, you drop your camera in the punchbowl midway through, and the client takes you to small claims court for failing to deliver.
Liability insurance is likely more affordable than you think. Plans can start as low as $23 per month. Liability insurance is particularly useful for freelancers in fields where there’s a high potential for costly mistakes, like photography and IT consulting. Your provider should work with you to find a plan that makes the most sense for your needs and business.
2. Protect Yourself
Getting sick is a pain—but for a freelancer, getting so sick you can’t work can be catastrophic. Long-term disability insurance protects you from loss of income due to illness or injury. Like liability insurance, disability coverage can be surprisingly inexpensive–but its benefits are huge.
Disability insurance plans can cover your monthly income; you’ll receive a monthly check in the event you’re unable to work. You can also select a plan that will cover your credit by cutting disability checks to a mortgage provider or other lender. Disability insurance ensures that you’ll still have income even if you’re sidelined by illness or injury for an extended period of time.
3. Protect Your Family
It’s not fun to think about, but if the worst happens, you want to ensure your family will have support. Life insurance plans offer your dependents financial stability in case of your death, with as much coverage as you need for as long as you choose.
If you’re young and healthy, do you really need life insurance? If you’re supporting anyone other than yourself, it’s a good idea. The cheapest, simplest form of life insurance is called term life insurance. Plans can be as low as $10 per month; you select a period of time (or term) you want to be covered. If something happens to you during that term, your dependents will receive benefits.
While it might feel a little weird to be advance planning for your own untimely demise, life insurance coverage will give your family security in the unlikely event they need it.
4. Protect Your Work
Client nonpayment is a major issue for freelancers—a 2015 Freelancers Union survey found that 71% of freelancers have struggled to collect payment from a client.
Make sure you have a signed contract with a client before even starting a job and invoice promptly; if that doesn’t work, there are more resources in Freelancers Union’s Guide to Nonpayment.
If you’re in New York City, you can file a nonpayment complaint through the Freelance Isn’t Free law. Outside New York, join up with a freelance SPARK group in your area and demand similar legislation in your city or state.
5. Protect Your Community
Buying insurance through Freelancers Union does more than cover your a@%: it supports collective organizing efforts that benefit freelancers everywhere. Freelancers Union is the largest organization in the country supporting self-employed workers (and membership is free!)
By protecting yourself, your business, and your family, you’re also contributing to a better future for freelancers like you.
This post was updated in October 2021.