Thursday, October 1, 2009

Don't Skip This Step in Your Virtual Business Startup

Working as a Virtual Paralegal is the talk of the industry right now. In a recent survey of readers, 90% of participants responded that they had considered working virtually. Of those, more than half wanted more information establishing this type of business.
To answer your questions, I interviewed six stars of the virtual paralegal world and the result is a Virtual Paralegal Interview Series. The four CD set will be available soon. Watch for announcements.

The following article is submited by one of those 'stars' ... Cathy L. Ribble, CP of Guthrie, OK who has recently launched her new business, Digital Paralegal Services, LLC.

You have spent months researching a new phase of your paralegal career. You have chosen a business name. You outlined a business plan, designed a web site and have a marketing plan. You even have business cards and letterhead!

But, in all your excitement, did you forget one of the most important startup steps of any new business? Did you consult your insurance professional?

As a small business owner operating a home office, you should conduct a comprehensive review of all insurance coverage for you, your family and your business on an annual basis. While insurance requirements and laws vary from state to state, Business.Gov outlines some basic insurance guidelines for small business owners.

Professional Liability Insurance (a/k/a Errors & Omissions Policy). You are probably most familiar with professional liability insurance for attorneys or physicians. This coverage is required for some professions in some states. Professional liability insurance protects your business against omissions, malpractice, or negligence in providing services to your client/customer.

Umbrella Personal Liability Policy. If you maintain all of your policies with one insurance company and you have a good claims record, ask your agent about an umbrella personal liability policy. You may be able to obtain coverage for $1,000,000, or greater amount, which supplements your other coverage for any type of claim against you, your spouse, or other family members.

Worker’s Compensation Policy. If you are planning to have employees with salaries paid through your company, you will likely be required to provide Worker’s Compensation Insurance for your employees. The policy amounts will correspond to the projected salaries of your employees. You will submit periodic payroll audit reports to the insurance company reflecting actual payroll amounts. Premium adjustments will then be made by the provider.

Equipment Policy. You may think that you are already covered for your office equipment because your office is located in your home. Check with your agent. For a small fee, you can likely get better coverage which also protects your mobile phone and miscellaneous mishaps to your office equipment. In the event you do have a claim, this policy might get you back in business quicker than waiting on a homeowner’s policy claim to be processed.

Other Policies. Also review your auto coverage if you will be using your personal vehicle for your new business. Again, you can possibly add supplemental coverage at a very reasonable rate which gives you added protection in the event your spouse is involved in an accident while driving a company vehicle owned by his employer. You should monitor the health care reform issues which are being discussed. These changes may impact small business owners in the future.

BUSINESS TIP: Be sure to ask your agent if you qualify for multi-line, multi-policy or claim-free discounts.

Anyone interested in reprinting this article should contact Cathy L. Ribble, CP for permission. She can be reached at

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