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Jann in TX

Would you expect a tutor to have liability insurance?

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I've been tutoring/teaching homeschoolers online for 17 years now...I've recently been asked (required) to provide proof of liability insurance-- like million dollar policies!  I was told this was to protect our students...I work online-- no video (whiteboard and voice)-- no physical contact with my students...

Have we become such a litigious society that this is now necessary???

MINIMUM:

$1,000,000 per occurrence
$2,000,000 general aggregate
$500,000 personal and advertising injury 
 
I must add that this was in order to be a vendor for a charter school in CA...
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No, I would not expect an online tutor to have liability insurance. What kind of thing do they think you might be sued for, failure to do correct proofs?

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I would never have thought about it as a personal tutor, but I could see if you were working for a company where the company might need it, or require it I guess for an independent contractor. Say someone was inappropriate with a kid online, or posted something illegal/inappropriate then that would put the corporation or what have you at risk of litigation. That would be my guess. 

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10 minutes ago, Æthelthryth the Texan said:

I would never have thought about it as a personal tutor, but I could see if you were working for a company where the company might need it, or require it I guess for an independent contractor. Say someone was inappropriate with a kid online, or posted something illegal/inappropriate then that would put the corporation or what have you at risk of litigation. That would be my guess. 

Exactly this. I am a volunteer with a small nonprofit arts organization that works with homeschoolers, and one requirement for the organization’s liability insurance is that all independent contractors carry their own personal liability insurance. 

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4 minutes ago, mellifera33 said:

Exactly this. I am a volunteer with a small nonprofit arts organization that works with homeschoolers, and one requirement for the organization’s liability insurance is that all independent contractors carry their own personal liability insurance. 

I can understand the need if this was in-person instruction.  Mine is 100% virtual.

The cost for insurance is MORE than my income from their students would bring in!

Edited by Jann in TX
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No, but I wouldn't be surprised at a charter school requiring it. It's easier for them to have a blanket requirement versus one policy for video, another for no video, etc. 

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Check with your homeowner's insurance; your agent may be able to add a rider to your policy for very very little. That's what I did for a drama group that I lead. The facility we use required the liability policy and I called my insurance agent brother in law and he fixed it up for me at no cost.

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12 minutes ago, Jann in TX said:

I can understand the need if this was in-person instruction.  Mine is 100% virtual.

The cost for insurance is MORE than my income from their students would bring in!

I don't know how long their policy has been in effect, but there were some unfortunate things that happened at several public schools when instruction went completely online. So much so that a couple of districts had to pull back the online instruction for a few weeks to make adjustments.

I get the frustration on the cost, but it's 100% a CYA thing. All it takes is one inappropriate screen shot, or DM to a kid from an instructor and a company could be in a lot of trouble. 

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14 minutes ago, Jann in TX said:

I can understand the need if this was in-person instruction.  Mine is 100% virtual.

The cost for insurance is MORE than my income from their students would bring in!

Yeah, we asked if our rates would be less this year since we’re virtual. They said no. 😞

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What on earth could you be liable for if you are teaching online??? Inadvertently putting a curse on the student? 

Edited by regentrude
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2 minutes ago, regentrude said:

What on earth could you be liable for if you are teaching online??? Inadvertently putting a curse on the student? 

Exposure to porn, nudity, development of inappropriate relationship......this would be for the under 18 set. I wouldn't guess colleges have the same sorts of liability issues. 

Edited by Æthelthryth the Texan
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Just now, Æthelthryth the Texan said:

Exposure to porn, nudity, development of inappropriate relationship......

But is that stuff covered by any insurance? Can you insure yourself against exposing your students to porn or against inappropriate relationships?
I can see how a company can take out insurance against misbehaving of a subcontractor - but as the tutor myself, does any body insures me against (accidentally?) entering into a relationship with  student? I don't think this is possible

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Isn't this sort of thing another result of the rising "gig economy", and lack of traditional employment relationships?  Does the charter school itself carry insurance?  If so, what does that cover?  Also, what about jurisdication -- I assume you aren't in California, but thinking about working for a school chartered in CA -- what would the jurisdiction of any lawsuit be?

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Just now, regentrude said:

But is that stuff covered by any insurance? Can you insure yourself against exposing your students to porn or against inappropriate relationships?
I can see how a company can take out insurance against misbehaving of a subcontractor - but as the tutor myself, does any body insures me against (accidentally?) entering into a relationship with  student? I don't think this is possible

I would see it more like if a Virtual Academy hired a Teacher and Teacher sent porn to student or something inappropriate, then parent files civil suit against teacher apart from criminal charges which would be something else- I don't know the contract but maybe there is something in there that puts any litigation on the contract teacher and not the company. I don't know anything about charter schools though or how that would work. I can just see from other contract aspects, where one would be required as a contractor to carry the liability as a first level protection for the organizing company. Maybe it's just a hoop and won't stand up in court, but particularly in CA, this doesn't surprise me. 

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Yes, I would completely expect any provider of any type of service, speech, physical and occupational therapy, tutoring of any type, really anything working with people.  I do this type of work and I carry insurance of 1 million.  It is cheap at $80 per year and protects me from lawsuits.

 

Here is one company that provides insurance https://landing.hpso.com/hpso-ancillary-landing-page-list-of-professions/

Edited by Shellydon
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11 minutes ago, regentrude said:

What on earth could you be liable for if you are teaching online??? Inadvertently putting a curse on the student? 

 

The OP calls out "personal and advertising insurance", which covers things like libel, slander, and intellectual property issues.  For the latter, I would *hope* that fair use would cover any legitimate teaching issues.  However, just like these boards apparently got in some legal hot water with people posting copyright images a while back, I could image if a tutor's lecture materials with copyright material from others became publicly visible, you could be subject to a lawsuit by some trolling law firm.  Even if you were legally in the right, defending the suit could be expensive.  Nonetheless, I'd really want the employer to be on the hook for that.

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7 minutes ago, GGardner said:

 

The OP calls out "personal and advertising insurance", which covers things like libel, slander, and intellectual property issues.  For the latter, I would *hope* that fair use would cover any legitimate teaching issues.  However, just like these boards apparently got in some legal hot water with people posting copyright images a while back, I could image if a tutor's lecture materials with copyright material from others became publicly visible, you could be subject to a lawsuit by some trolling law firm.  Even if you were legally in the right, defending the suit could be expensive.  Nonetheless, I'd really want the employer to be on the hook for that.

Sorry to sidetrack, but on the bolded, what I have never understood about this is why this Forum was threatened, meanwhile Twitter, Tumblr and Reddit would go under if people couldn't post memes or Gifs with celebrities. I never understood the difference. 

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I would definitely contact your homeowner's insurance company.  We got an umbrella liability policy with ours, I think it was an extra $8 per month for 3 million, sued for any reason. 

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5 minutes ago, Æthelthryth the Texan said:

Sorry to sidetrack, but on the bolded, what I have never understood about this is why this Forum was threatened, meanwhile Twitter, Tumblr and Reddit would go under if people couldn't post memes or Gifs with celebrities. I never understood the difference. 

 

Bullies never pick on anyone their own size, much less someone much, much bigger.

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38 minutes ago, regentrude said:

But is that stuff covered by any insurance? Can you insure yourself against exposing your students to porn or against inappropriate relationships?
I can see how a company can take out insurance against misbehaving of a subcontractor - but as the tutor myself, does any body insures me against (accidentally?) entering into a relationship with  student? I don't think this is possible

The liability insurance we have for the camp I run protects us against false accusations from kids/ teachers.  So we get legal representation against such claims under the insurance.  But it is slightly different because it is the camp as an organization that is insured.  The individual counselors are definitely liable if they overstep any bounds despite our measures to have training, two deep leadership etc.  And we would turn them into law enforcement. 

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Charter school is also requiring that I add THEM to the policy as 'additionally insured'!!!

I've withdrawn my vendor application with them- so far no students with their charter had enrolled with me...

I do serve other charters--one of them I have quite a few students with...uggg.

 

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I just kept my professional liability rider from teaching when I moved from the public schools to teaching at the university and then to mostly doing homeschool groups, and then to teaching privately, and then to online. I never really thought about dropping it because teaching is teaching. It isn't all that much, and it makes me feel better to have it. I really wouldn't put it past an insurance company to try to collect from my insurance if a kid trips over the cable of his digital piano during an online lesson or something! 

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If I were a tutor, I’d probably want an umbrella policy to protect me from whatever frivolous lawsuit folks could come up with. Unless I were just tutoring kids of family and close friends.  

ETA I did once turn down a board position because the organization didn’t provide insurance for board members. I personally believe this is the kind of thing that should be provided for by the organization. 

Edited by Seasider too
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I would ask the company that is requiring that insurance to give you the names and phone numbers of 2 or 3 companies that are selling that type of insurance and if they have that information, what the name of the policy is Some kind of Liability Umbrella policy. The Advertising insurance caught my eye. It is not uncommon for a company to require that a contractor provide insurance, but online tutoring and their requirement for it are new to me. Possibly it depends upon the state where the company is located or where you are located? If you are on a 1099 then it places you with different requirements they might impose. If you are a Corporation that is a different ballgame.

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1 hour ago, Jann in TX said:

Charter school is also requiring that I add THEM to the policy as 'additionally insured'!!!

I've withdrawn my vendor application with them- so far no students with their charter had enrolled with me...

I do serve other charters--one of them I have quite a few students with...uggg.

 

If those are CA charter schools, it's coming. So, you will need to decide what you want to do. 

Naming an additional insured is not a big deal and is normal in the course of business and does not change the cost of the policy. For example, a real world example, would be naming the owner of the real estate you rent as an additional insured. 

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It sounds like your employer is too cheap to carry their own insurance. I have insurance for teaching dance classes, and it’s not terribly expensive, but I never thought of using it for online teaching. In fact, I’ve avoided teaching dance classes online because I wasn’t interested in figuring out how that would even work insurance-wise. 

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She's not an employee though. She is a vendor (a business providing services) to a school. There is a difference.

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No.

But possibly you could get it via a homeowners or renters insurance company.

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It’s probably a good idea regardless.  You wouldn’t want, say, the equity in your house to become the ‘deep pockets’ for a stupid lawsuit.  

This is one of the reasons I never took money for teaching homeschooling classes.  Too much risk for too little reward.  Instead, I did it entirely my own way, for free.  I do have business liability insurance for my main business, through State Farm.  We also have an umbrella liability policy, but my understanding (which I will check on) is that that is for personal liability and could not be extended to business except rental property.  

BTW, in the ‘gig’ economy it is important to check on what voids your insurance.  For instance, standard auto insurance is voided during use of that vehicle for, say, driving for Uber.  Ditto homeowners insurance for VRBO use.

Edited by Carol in Cal.
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