I'm looking into helping people with the basics of computing: basic excel, word , powerpoint, email, searching the web (Move onto more intermediate things as I grow in confidence and gain teaching skills). Self employed.

I'm only talking initally one or two clients a few hours a week.

Not being legal savvy I'm unsure of what the right approach is: my worst nightmare is I help someone with excel , they conicidentally get a virus,money disappears from a bank account, the bank refuses to refund - they then look to blame me to recover the money. Of course they could innocently think I've caused it too.

Hope for some good sound advice or pointing in the right direction .


There is a risk in being self employed and this is one of the biggest differences I see. If you are employed, you get your money and if something goes wrong your employer pays. If you are self employed and you do something wrong you have to pay for that.

This risk should be covered in your pricing and as mentioned by Canadian Luke it is good to have an insurance for that.

Anyway you only have to pay for the damage by the virus if you did something wrong, but it can be something wrong in guiding them. The good thing with insurances is that they will sort that out for you. If you have no insurance and somebody is angry and wants to go to court you have to find a lawyer etc. and it is a difficult situation.

I started being self employed by putting a sentence in the contract that I do my work without being liable for damage or only until a certain limit, but this sentence turns out to be maybe not valid. You can still write it and hope everything works well, but it is a risk.

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  • While that sentence/clause might not 100% stand up in court, it could cause a frivolous lawsuit to be outright rejected by a judge or at least cause someone to reconsider suing in the first place, not realizing it's not exactly enforceable. Having a clause like that is definitely better than not having it, since you are still stating that you don't agree to be liable for everything that happens. – computercarguy Mar 9 at 22:23

Not being legal savvy I'm unsure of what the right approach is

If you're self employed, and if this is work performed as part of your self employment, then get yourself Professional Liability Insurance and General Liability Insurance, or whatever the equivalents are in your country.

No ifs, ands, or buts. If you want to work for yourself and you want to make sure you are protected, then you MUST get the proper insurance. Not doing so is foolhardy.

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It's going to come down to your cost-benefit analysis. If you're only doing a few clients, it likely won't be worth your time to get general liability insurance (or similar), which should cover you in case you do something wrong causing monetary loss.

The better option if you're worried about "viruses" would be to make sure they are completely disconnected from the Internet while you are in the vicinity, and not plug in anything to the computer - flash drives, keyboards, ANYTHING. Have your "lessons" on paper, and work through that.

I hope you understand the kind of precautions you need to take if you don't have insurance. If you're not willing to get the proper insurance, it may be worthwhile working with another company that has insurance until you feel more confident in your field.

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    It only takes a single "client" to be unhappy and to file a lawsuit or claim against you or your work. I wouldn't perform work for any client without having Professional Liability Insurance and General Liability Insurance. – joeqwerty Jun 21 '19 at 21:32
  • Doing lessons on paper won't help anyone learn a piece of software. That's just counterproductive, since they'll just want to either continue to do their accounting (or whatever) on paper or simply won't understand what "=Sum(B1:B13)" really means. – computercarguy Mar 9 at 22:19

You do need Professional Indemnity Insurance. For computing, I would NEVER do tuition on THEIR machines. You need an (old, second hand machine?) with the programs to be used installed. You must have a good firewall and anti-virus on it, and all programs kept up to date. You also need to have a complete back up by a professional restore system which keeps various copies of your entire computer, so you can go back before the time any virus etc got on your machine. 'arc' files weekly/ monthly on external hard drive for recovery e.g. Paragon-software GmbH Hard disk Manager - [ disclosure I have used this for many years and I teach computing as a volunteer [ unpaid tutor] so have same problems as you.] You act as follows: 1) Customer/client gets help as demonstration on your machine. 2) You allow them to practise on your machine during classes. 3) You do work on basis that you have no liability fro any action by them on their own equipment.

4 YOU NEVER demonstrate on their equipment. 5 Their internet safety is their responsibility but you must demonstrate how to do it. 6 You can use and recommend to them anti-virus software, antu-add software, anti background script software.E.g I use anti-virus frommy ISP supplier, i use on all browsers uBlock (anti advert), NoScript (allows you to set what is displayed in browsers). 7 Also important teach them never to click on a QR Code, but always type into browser the URL of sites they want to visit. Likewise avoid 'clicking' on adverts or pop ups. I trust this helps.

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  • I know of many people who wanted to learn their version of the software, even if it was +10 years out of date. Sure, you can not take them as a student, but you lose out on the fee, too. Teaching them on their own computer, in their own familiar surroundings is a solid way to keep people mostly comfortable with only the software being their problem, rather than an unfamiliar room and computer. You can also charge more for a on-site class than if they come to you. – computercarguy Mar 9 at 22:27
  • If you do it on their software , their machine (yes very comfortable for them) you need a clear written instruction that you are not liable for any damage to machine or software. Also you will need insurance. – eionmac Mar 11 at 17:25

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