When is Professional Liability Insurance Required?
Starting a business means facing a lot of laws, regulations and requirements when it comes to operation. Some of these insurance coverages are required by state law while others may be required by your industry in order to obtain certain licenses.
Professional liability insurance is different than general liability or contractor’s liability insurance, although contractors often carry professional liability insurance. This coverage, also known as errors and omissions insurance (E&O insurance), provides compensation for claims against a professional or business concerning:
- Professional negligence
- Good faith violations
- Inaccurate or misleading advice
For example, say that you are an accountant. You make a clerical error on a client’s finances that ends up costing them thousands of dollars. The client decides to sue. Professional liability insurance can protect you for the related lawsuit such as court fees, defense costs and settlement expenses.
This insurance is often required by clients who hire your professional services. You may also need this insurance in order to be approved for certain certificates. Clients wish for potential contractors and other professionals to guarantee coverage in case an accident occurs while the project is in progress. Professionals that often require professional liability insurance includes:
- Medical professionals
- Consultants (IT consultants, for example)
- Insurance professionals
- Software developers
- Real estate agents
- Graphic designers
- Investment advisors
Of course, this is not a full or comprehensive list. There are professions not included on this list that should be covered under professional liability insurance. Any business that offers professional or specialized services should carry professional liability insurance to cover potential losses due to lawsuits. A single lawsuit can cost thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars, especially if it’s drawn out.
Before entering a contract or applying for a certificate, you may be required to purchase a professional liability insurance policy so that any business or client you work with will be compensated for potential damages or mistakes.
Difference Between Professional and General Liability
The main difference between professional liability insurance and general liability insurance is the type of negligence that the policy covers. General liability insurance covers non-professional negligence claims relating to bodily injury and property damage. If a guest trips over a piece of equipment and is injured, for example, general liability insurance can help with the victim’s medical expenses and the business’ legal fees if a lawsuit follows.
On the other hand, professional liability insurance covers professional negligence related directly to an offered profession or specialty. In the medical field, this insurance is known as medical malpractice insurance. If a doctor fails to properly follow up with a patient after a procedure and the patient grows worse, the injury and extra costs associated with it can fall back on the doctor and their practice.
How Much is Professional Liability Insurance for a Business?
The cost of professional liability insurance varies depending on location, industry, size of the business, coverage limits and more. Professional liability insurance costs an average of $710, which is around $60 a month. Most professional liability policies provide coverage per $1 million of coverage. Larger businesses may need higher limits of professional liability insurance.
Some professions are at higher risk than others of these claims or face higher legal expenses related to the nature of their profession or industry. Industries such as medicine and law face some of the highest risks of professional liability. Surgeons and OBGYNs in particular can face expensive lawsuits related to professional negligence. It’s often recommended that these professionals carry their own form of professional liability insurance for extra coverage. While businesses should provide professional liability insurance, it’s important that professionals have reliable insurance in case of an accident, especially if the professional is in between jobs or leaves the previous employer. Some policies will not cover a professional after they leave the practice at which the act of alleged negligence occurred.
Every business and individual is different. Even if you work on your own or are self-employed, you may be required to carry professional liability insurance in order to get a license and operate.
Those who aren’t required to carry professional liability insurance should still consider purchasing this insurance to protect themselves, their key employees and their business.
Speak with your insurance agent about protecting your business with the correct professional liability insurance policy. You can also combine this insurance with other policies such as general liability and commercial property insurance into a business owners policy in order to save money.