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Errors And Omissions Insurance

The April issue of Intercom, the magazine of the Society for Technical Communications (STC), has an article by Christopher Juillet looking at professional liability insurance, a subject that comes up over and over at translation conferences. Although the article has the technical writer in mind, many of the points are relevant to translators as well.

Look at the costs. The cost for E&O insurance comes out of the translator’s pocket, not the client’s, which means you may have to charge higher rates or accept a lower profit margin to cover it.

If you are asked to have E&O coverage, why is it important to the client in the first place? Is the client trying to shift liability onto you? Is the client willing to help you absorb the cost of obtaining E&O insurance? Is there some special set of risks inherent in the project?

I attended a session on professional liability insurance at one of the recent ATA conferences. The speaker was solidly in favor of translators carrying this type of coverage – but then the speaker was a lawyer and you would expect nothing else; as the old adage goes, if you are a hammer, the whole world looks like a nail. In Review the Exposures and Coverages available for Companies whose Business is giving Advice, Roy C. McCormick makes the point that “the consequences of inaccurate language translation in international business deals are obvious.” In a discussion thread on opinions ranged from E&O insurance being a sign of professionalism to “I don’t think we should have liability insurance. An agency is supposed to get our work reviewed or proofread. I have no control over what they do with my translation. What would happen if, for instance, some reviewer added mistakes to my, otherwise, correct translation?”

For me, the latter point raises a valid concern, having been in similar situations several times over the past thirty years. Living and working in the U.S., I also have to ask myself if the mere fact of carrying E&O insurance would not lower the threshold for lawsuits. It is, after all, only worthwhile going after someone who has the ability to pay up.

ATA offers E&O insurance through Hays Affinity Solutions. On the Web I found which lists insurance companies offering professional liability insurance as well as a “Coverage Coach” to find out what kind of coverage you would need.


2 Responses to “Errors And Omissions Insurance”

  1. Christine says:

    As content management becomes the wave of the future, errors and omissions insurance needs to be a key focus for content editors, bloggers, and web developers. This is an article that needs to be resurrected and updated since it’s truly a key issue in today’s IT environment.

  2. Michael says:

    Christine is right, and I am considering a resurrection of this article. However, I don’t like the comments in my blog to be advertising and I disabled the link that Christine set for her(?) insurance company.

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