Professional Liability Insurance

Professional Liability Insurance Do you or your business provide professional services or advice to other businesses or individuals? Professional Liability Insurance Could your counsel or service lead to losses by your client for which you could be held responsible?

If so, you’ll likely want to purchase professional liability insurance, also known as errors and omissions insurance (E&O). Claims not covered by general liability insurance that are covered by professional liability insurance include negligence, misrepresentation, violation of good faith and fair dealing, and inaccurate advice.

Professional Liability Insurance

In some states, professional liability insurance is required, especially for attorneys and doctors. Legal and medical malpractice insurance policies are special types of professional liability insurance. Other professionals that should consider professional liability insurance include:

  • Accountants
  • Architects
  • Engineers
  • Graphic designers
  • Information technology (IT) consultants
  • Insurance professionals
  • Investment advisors
  • Management consultants
  • Real estate agents and brokers
  • Software developers

This list is not exhaustive. Consult with your insurance professional or inquire with your profession’s trade association to determine if you might need professional liability coverage.

What’s covered and what’s not

There are two types of professional liability policies: claims-made and occurrence. Most professional liability insurance policies are “claims-made,” meaning that the policy must be in effect both when the event took place and when a lawsuit is filed for a claim to be paid.

If, however, you change careers or retire, you may want to purchase an “occurrence” policy that will cover any claim for an event that took place during the period of coverage—even if the suit is filed after the policy lapses.

Professional liability insurance will pay the cost of legal defense against claims and payment of judgments against you, up to the limit of the policy. In general, coverage does not extend to non-financial losses or losses caused by intentional or dishonest acts. Other fees, such as licensing board penalties,

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may also be included. Policies will generally have a deductible ranging from $1,000 to $25,000. The amount of professional liability insurance you will need and how much it will cost depends upon the size of your business and the level of risk it poses.

You may be able to include professional liability coverage in a Commercial Package Policy (CPP) as an endorsement. Note, however, the professional liability coverage is not included in an in-home business policy or Business Owners Policy (BOP).

How Professional Liability Insurance Works

Depending on the profession, professional liability insurance may have different names, such as medical malpractice insurance for the medical profession, and errors & omissions insurance for real estate agents. Professional liability insurance is a specialty coverage that is not provided under homeowners endorsements, in-home business policies, or business-owners policies. It only covers claims made during the policy period.

Professional liability insurance policies are usually arranged on a claims-made basis, which means coverage is good only for claims made during the policy period. Typical professional liability policies will indemnify the insured against loss arising from any claim or claims made during the policy period by reason of any covered error, omission,

the negligent act committed in the conduct of the insured’s professional business during the policy period. Incidents occurring before the coverage was activated may not be covered, although some policies may include a retroactive date.

What Professional Liability Insurance Does Not Include

Coverage does not include criminal prosecution, nor all forms of legal liability under civil law, only those listed in the policy. Cyber liability, covering data breach and other technology issues, may not necessarily be included in core policies. However, insurance that covers data security and other technology security-related issues is available as a separate policy.

Professional Liability Policy Wording

Some professional liability policies are worded more tightly than others. While a number of policy wordings are designed to satisfy a stated minimum approved wording, which makes them easier to compare, others differ dramatically in the coverages they provide. For example, breach of duty may be included if the incident occurred and was reported by the policyholder to the insurer during the policy period.

Wordings with major legal differences can be confusingly similar to non-lawyers. For instance, coverage for “negligent act, error or omission” indemnifies the policyholder against loss/circumstances incurred only as a result of any professional error or omission, or negligent act (i.e., the modifier “negligent” does not apply to all three categories, though any non-legal reader might assume that it did). Meanwhile, a “negligent act, negligent error or negligent omission” clause is a much more restrictive policy, which would deny coverage in a lawsuit alleging a non-negligent error or omission.

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