Insurance for sole traders


13th August, 2020

6 key types of insurance for sole traders and self-employed professionals

Sole traders have more control over their business decisions, but that also comes with more responsibility. That’s where insurance comes in.

Whether you’re a tradie, hairdresser or bookkeeper, if you’ve chosen to operate as a sole trader, you have a unique amount of freedom over your business decisions.

But this freedom also means you’re personally and financially liable should things not go to plan – and that means making sure you’re covered with the appropriate level of insurance.

If you’re just getting started as a sole trader, it may be easy to overlook certain forms of insurance as an unacceptable cost, but this may be setting you up for bigger problems in the future.

What about access to WorkCover? As a sole trader, you’re not classed as a worker and are therefore ineligible to claim workers compensation in the case of an injury.

READ: Sole traders vs companies — key differences explained

Instead, you’ll need to make sure you’re prepared for the worst – from compensation claims against you to personal injury or illness – this article covers six key areas of insurance:

  • Income Protection Insurance
  • Public Liability Insurance
  • Tool Insurance
  • Professional Indemnity Insurance
  • TPD Insurance
  • Worker’s Compensation Insurance

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1. Income Protection Insurance

How would you pay your mortgage and ongoing expenses if you were to fall ill or injure yourself and be unable to work? This is a real consideration for sole traders and freelancers, and it’s the reason Income Protection Insurance is often advisable.

While savings or a partner’s income might see you through, they might not. Some sole traders may be the sole breadwinner, and others – understandably – won’t want to see their nest egg disappear.

Income Protection policies provide financial assistance when you’re unable to earn, via monthly payments of up to 75 percent of your income.

Premiums are usually tax deductible and vary depending on factors including age, benefit amount, and the benefit and waiting periods selected.

Similar to Income Protection Insurance is Personal Accident and Sickness Insurance. This type of insurance can cover up to 85 percent of weekly earnings, but it is generally more limited than Income Protection, with a shorter benefit period.

2. Public Liability Insurance

Imagine you’re a beauty therapist and a customer slips on some product and breaks their leg in your salon. Or perhaps you run a carpentry business and an employee damages a client’s priceless family heirloom…

As a sole trader, you could be paying the price for years to come – unless, of course, you have adequate insurance.

A worthwhile investment for many sole traders, Public Liability insurance covers compensation costs and your legal fees if a third party sues you for injury or property damage resulting from your alleged negligent business activity.

While it might not be worthwhile if you’re a graphic designer who works from home, if you interact with suppliers, clients or the public, and could feasibly cause property damage or personal injury to a third party while doing business, Public Liability Insurance is a must.

3. Tool Insurance

A workman is only as good as his tools, and – unfortunately – tools are frequently stolen from utes and construction sites.

This is a double whammy for tradies because, not only can replacing tools cost thousands of dollars, it can take time. During which time a tool-less tradie may be out of work and out of pocket.

Tool Insurance provides protection against theft and damage, for example from a fire or vehicle collision. But, coverage does vary widely between policies, so it’s important to read the fine print.

You should also make sure your ute or work vehicle is adequately covered for business use. Commercial Motor Insurance may therefore be worth investigating.

4. Professional Indemnity Insurance

Actions may speak louder, but words still matter. And they can land you in hot water if you’re in the business of providing advice for a fee.

Professional Indemnity Insurance protects sole traders from third party claims arising as a result of the specialist service or expert advice they have provided.

It can cover any damages and compensation costs, as well as legal fees, should you be found to have breached your professional duty, for example by providing incorrect advice or leaking confidential information.

Sole traders who typically require this type of insurance include accountants, financial advisors, lawyers, engineers, veterinarians, architects, marketing consultants and allied health professionals, but it may also be relevant to many more.

READ: 5 money management techniques for sole traders

5. TPD Insurance

Nobody wants to expect the worst, but it’s smart to be prepared for it. Particularly if you have high living expenses and dependents.

TPD stands for Total and Permanent Disability, and this insurance involves the payment of one large lump sum should you become permanently disabled and unable to work, due to injury or illness.

Premiums depend on factors such as age, sex, health and the benefit amount required.

Those in ‘riskier’ professions, such as builders and other trades, will typically pay higher premiums than office workers.

6. Worker’s Compensation Insurance

If you’re a sole trader that employs others, Worker’s Compensation Insurance is mandatory in all states (unless you qualify for an exemption).

This type of insurance covers property damage and personal injury suffered by an employee.

This advice is general in natural and not intended to substitute the guidance of a specialist. When seeking general business advice, start by looking for a qualified advisor near you.