Legal questions about insurance... PC repair

Hello SDMBers…

In the next one or two weeks, I am planning on opening a small-scale computer repair service. I would like to just make house calls and repair basic things… deal with hardware, software… any “typical user” problems, for the most part. I am planning on working together with a friend of mine, to share to financial costs and the workload. I have a couple legal questions though, and I was wondering if anyone could help out.

  1. Does it require any kind of insurance to enter a “customers” house? We are aiming to keep the buisness to a word-of-mouth and newspaper-classifieds kinda deal, so I’m not sure that we’d even legally be considered a buisness. We’d work completly out of our houses, and not spend any signifigant amount on advertising or stuff like that. So, if the customer invites us into their home, do we need some legal status to do so?

  2. If the computer problem is too envolved or complex for us to trouble-shoot it on-site, we were planning on taking their computer to our house to resolve the issue. Is a signed waiver all we need to do this? Or do we need some kind of certification or other status in order to do this?

  3. Are we a buisness? Both my friend and I are dependents, and we are also students. Does the IRS need to know anything that’s goin on, or are we small enough to not matter?

Is there anything I should know about doing the kind of buisness I am planning on? I am very proficient with computers, and I feel that if I did come across a problem I didn’t recognize (bound to happen) I could easily research it enough to resolve the issue. Any ideas on how much I should charge? I am thinking $50-60 an hour would be cheaper than any “yellow-pages” repair service would be.

Any/all suggestions are welcome, and appreciated. Thanks a lot.

Anything can be done “under the table” but if you are remotely concerned about problems (which your post suggests) you’re better off approaching it head on…like you’re doing.

Question #1) Some liability insurance never hurts. Just in case something really bizarre happens like you accidentally step on a baby’s head, knock over the Ming vase standing next to the computer… or something. Doesn’t cost much for just “oops” liability insurance. If you are under 18 you may need to get an adult involved with the business, even if just as a figurehead who can (legally) accept responsibility for–and insure against–any disasters that come up

Question #2) Check with a lawyer in this field to see if you can guard youself against alleged loss of data/intrusion of privacy (from peeking at their cookies/temp web files) using a hold-harmless kind of thingy. People get funny. If what you do ends up wiping my hard drive, or even if it just seems like it was your fault, I’ll want you to replace my software (which I may or may not have had) and I’ll want you to compensate me for the time it’s going to take to recreate all the accounting records for my 500 clients (which I may or may not have had).

Question #3) If you’re making money, the IRS is interested. For specifics as well as advise check with a Tax Attorney.

If you want to call it a business, I’d say you need to protect your business like a real computer shop would. Chat with such an owner about the business & see if they can give you some insight.

Insurance questions as best asked of an insurance agent. I assume you have car insurance, so you could ask your agent about it. Another thing you didn’t say where & your location field is blank.