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Professional Liability Insurance

Professional Liability Insurance

Get a quote on Professional Liability Insurance

From architects to web developers, individuals and companies that provide professional advice and services can be held liable for any financial damages that their work causes. While you may strive to always provide the best services for your clients, mistakes can happen, and a client may ultimately hold you financially responsible. Professional Liability Insurance can offer financial protection and help protect your business against lawsuits related to your professional work, covering legal fees and judgements that may result from these claims.

What is Professional Liability Insurance?

Professional Liability Insurance, also known as Professional Indemnity Insurance, protects individuals and companies from the costs of lawsuits and damages related to their professional practice, advice, and services. This insurance protects individuals and businesses that sell their expertise. It covers professionals who have gained expertise through extensive training in their field and whose work is governed by standards set by client agreements, their industry, or the government.

Professional Liability Insurance policies are a good complement to the basic protections provided for in general liability policies. Typically, general liability insurance covers bodily injury, property damage, personal injury, and advertising injury, but leaves out any claims outside of these coverage areas. For many professionals, including lawyers, architects, engineers, and doctors, it’s common to face lawsuits claiming negligence, poor performance, or any failure of their professional duties that do not actually cause direct bodily injury, property damage, personal injury, or advertising injury. This is where Professional Liability Insurance can provide coverage.


Are malpractice, errors & omissions, and Professional Liability Insurance the same?

Depending on the specific profession that you’re in, Professional Liability Coverage may be called by different names. For those in the medical profession, Professional Liability Insurance is commonly known as Medical Malpractice Insurance. For those in real estate, IT, or accounting, Professional Liability Insurance may be called Errors & Omissions (E&O) Insurance. And for those in the media industry, like broadcasters or publishers, Professional Liability Insurance can be called Media Liability Insurance. Often times, Professional Liability and E&O are terms used interchangeably.

What does Professional Liability Insurance cover?

Professional Liability Insurance covers a variety of claims against professional work, professional advice to clients, or services you provide. These include lawsuits arising from:

Work Errors or Mistakes

Failure to Do What Was Promised

Undelivered or Uncompleted Work

Actual or Alleged Negligence


Violation of Good Faith and Fair Dealing

Inaccurate Advice

Professional Liability Insurance covers you, your business, your employees, and independent contractors while they are working for your business. It will pay for any judgments against your business, as well as the costs of your legal defense, whether or not your business is found to be at fault. It’s important to note that, unlike most liability insurance, legal defense costs are counted as part of your limits of coverage.

For certain professions and businesses, Professional Liability Insurance may be required, either contractually or by law. For professions in law and medicine, this type of coverage is legally required. It’s also worth noting that coverage may vary depending on the profession being covered. While Professional Liability policies generally exclude bodily injury and property damage, bodily injury is typically included in Professional Liability for medical professionals, and both bodily injury and property damage are generally covered for architects and engineers. It’s best to consult with your insurer, as coverage is usually tailored to the profession.

What doesn’t Professional Liability Insurance cover?

Professional Liability Insurance is often tailored to a specific profession, so exclusions may differ depending on who is being covered. Generally, Professional Liability Insurance is seen as a good complement to general liability insurance, and thus it does not cover those areas that a CGL policy would cover, including:

Additionally, Professional Liability Insurance will not cover any criminal liability or criminal defense. It also excludes any malicious, intentional, or dishonest acts.

Who needs Professional Liability Insurance?

In any professional work or service, there is always the risk of making a mistake that may impact your client negatively. If a client or customer has suffered financial loss, they may sue your business, whether or not you are truly at fault. Handling expensive litigation can deal a serious blow to your business, even if you end up winning the suit. The time and cost of defending yourself can sap the life out of your business, especially for smaller companies with fewer resources. Even if you’ve done nothing wrong, a client can still sue you. Professional Liability Insurance can provide the financial cushion you need to weather unexpected claims from dissatisfied clients.

Professional Liability Insurance is applicable to a wide range of professions. Note that the terms “Professional Liability Insurance,” “Errors & Omissions Insurance,” and “Malpractice Insurance” are different names for the same type of insurance. By convention, some of the names are more common in certain industries.

Some professions that may benefit from Professional Liability Insurance include:

Errors & Omissions is another name for Professional Liability Insurance, and this name is commonly used in these professions:

Malpractice Insurance is the name for Professional Liability Insurance in the following fields:

Media Liability Insurance is a type of Professional Liability Insurance commonly used in these professions:

How much does Professional Liability Insurance cost?

AdvisorSmith found that the average cost of Professional Liability Insurance for small businesses is $1,034 per year. This average is based upon small businesses with under $500,000 in revenue, with limits of $1 million.

Professional Liability Insurance cost is highly dependent upon company revenue and line of business. For example, a new IT consulting business with $50,000 in sales may have average premiums as low as $310, while an architecture business with $250,000 in revenue may have average premiums of $2,457 or more.

In order to get an accurate estimate on pricing, it’s best to get an insurance quote from a reputable insurance company. Below we’ve highlighted a few of our trusted partners who offer Professional Liability Insurance:

ProviderProfessional LiabilityErrors & OmissionsGeneral Liability

Claims-made Policies

Professional Liability Insurance is written on a claims-made basis, which means that claims are only covered if the claim is made while the insurance policy is active. This is a major difference from other liability insurance policies, such as commercial general liability, which are occurrence policies. With a claims-made policy, if you do not have an active policy, you have no coverage for any of your past legal actions. This is important because in professional work, a client may not discover a professional error until much later than when the work is completed.

Occurrence policies will pay a claim if the event that caused the liability occurs during the policy period, even if the policy is no longer active.


With a claims-made policy, a claim will only be covered if the claim occurs while the insurance policy is in force.


Retroactive Date

Many claims-made policies have a retroactive date. Any acts that occur before the retroactive date will not be covered, even if the claim is made while the insurance is active. For example, an insurance policy with a retroactive date of January 2020 will not cover a claim filed in February 2020 for an act that occurred in November 2019, even though the insurance is active when the claim is filed.

Changing Insurance Carriers and Gaps in Coverage

When changing insurance carriers for a claims-made Professional Liability policy, it is important to secure prior acts coverage, also known as nose coverage. Prior acts coverage allows your new policy to inherit the retroactive date from the previous policy. Without prior acts coverage, once you cancel your old policy, you won’t have any coverage for any previous acts.

Gaps in coverage can occur if you do not renew the Professional Liability Policy by the day it expires. If you have a gap in coverage, you will lose all coverage for prior acts. Most insurance carriers will not allow you to reinstate your retroactive coverage if it lapses without a good reason, such as a natural disaster or personal medical issues. A warranty letter representing that you have no knowledge of pending claims is also required. Renewing on time is critical to ensure you don’t lose coverage for past acts under your Professional Liability Insurance.

Tail Coverage

If you are unable to purchase prior acts coverage from your new insurance carrier, tail coverage, also known as extended reporting period, is usually available from your existing insurance carrier. Tail coverage is also sold on a standalone basis from other insurers.

Tail coverage covers events that occur while the policy is in force but that are not reported until after the policy terminates. A typical tail extends the reporting period for six months to a year after the policy terminates. However, other lengths of time are available, up to an unlimited reporting period.


For professionals who want to retire, it is important to purchase tail coverage because you may still have liability for work you have done before retiring. If you cancel your policy without tail coverage, you will not have any coverage for any of your past work and may still be sued.

Shrinking Limits of Insurance

Because legal and attorneys’ fees are a large proportion of Professional Liability claims, Professional Liability Insurance has “shrinking limits” of insurance. This means legal costs are included in the limit of insurance, which differs from most other types of liability insurance.

In commercial general liability insurance, legal costs do not count towards your limits of insurance.


In contrast, if a general liability policy had a limit of $1 million and also had a judgment of $800,000 and legal fees of $400,000, that policy would pay for all of the judgment and the legal fees. This is because the judgment amount is less than the limit of liability, and general liability does not have “shrinking limits” so legal fees are fully covered and not counted towards the coverage limits.


Deductibles are the amount of a loss for which you are financially responsible before the insurance company’s coverage begins. A deductible is a form of risk-sharing, which provides a financial incentive for you to try to avoid claims.

Unlike most types of liability insurance, Professional Liability Insurance does usually have a deductible, with common amounts being $1,000-$25,000. The higher the deductible, the lower your insurance premiums will be.

Final Word

Liability comes in many forms, and for businesses that provide professional services or advice, there is a high risk of being sued for mistakes, claims of negligence, or failure to deliver on your work. Professional Liability Insurance is a key coverage option for anyone providing professional services or advice, from doctors to general contractors to designers. This type of insurance can help protect you and your business from client lawsuits alleging failures in your work and provide funds to cover any legal defense costs, judgements, or settlements. For smaller businesses with fewer resources on hand, having Professional Liability Insurance is especially important, as the high costs of defending yourself in court could make or break your business. With a comprehensive Professional Liability policy in place, you’ll be able to navigate client lawsuits without straining the financial resources of your business.

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