Professional Liability Insurance Explained

Shawn Plummer

CEO, The Annuity Expert

As a professional, you work hard to provide high-quality services to your clients. However, even the most experienced and skilled professionals can make mistakes or encounter unexpected situations that could lead to financial loss or damage to their clients. Professional liability insurance, or error and omissions (E&O) insurance, protects professionals from legal claims arising from their work. This guide will explain professional liability insurance, how it works, how much it costs, and its pros and cons.

What is Professional Liability Insurance?

Professional liability insurance protects professionals against claims made by clients or third parties for damages or financial loss resulting from errors or omissions in their work. It does not include coverage for social security. This type of insurance is specifically tailored to meet the needs of professionals who provide advice, expertise, or services to their clients, such as doctors, lawyers, accountants, architects, engineers, and consultants. Professional liability insurance is also known as errors and omissions (E&O), malpractice insurance, or professional indemnity insurance.

What Is Professional Liability Insurance

Types of Professional Liability Insurance

There are several types of professional liability insurance policies, depending on the nature of the professional services provided. Some of the most common types include:

  • Medical malpractice insurance for healthcare professionals such as doctors, nurses, and dentists.
  • Legal malpractice insurance for lawyers and law firms.
  • Errors and omissions insurance for professionals such as consultants, accountants, and engineers.
  • Architects and engineers (A&E) professional liability insurance for design professionals such as architects and engineers.

How Does Professional Liability Insurance Work?

Professional liability insurance policies typically cover legal defense costs, settlement or judgment amounts, and other related expenses, subject to the limits and conditions of the policy. The coverage can be triggered by a client or third-party claim alleging negligence, errors, or omissions in the professional services provided. The policy may also provide coverage for claims arising from breaches of contract or other specified wrongful acts. The policyholder must typically pay a deductible or self-insured retention amount before the coverage applies.

Claims-made vs. Occurrence-based Policies

Two main types of professional liability insurance policies are claims-made and occurrence-based. Claims-made policies cover claims made during the policy period, regardless of when the alleged incident occurred, as long as the claim is reported to the insurer during the policy period or within a specified extended reporting period. On the other hand, occurrence-based policies cover incidents during the policy period, regardless of when the claim is made, as long as the incident occurred during the policy period.

Limits and Exclusions Of Professional Liability Insurance

Professional liability insurance policies typically have limits on the amount of coverage provided, as well as exclusions for certain types of claims or damages. Therefore, professionals must review their policies carefully to understand the scope of coverage and any limitations or exclusions that may apply.

How Much Does Professional Liability Insurance Cost?

The cost of professional liability insurance can vary widely depending on factors such as the type of profession, the level of risk involved, the amount of coverage needed, and the geographic location of the insured. Premiums for professional liability insurance can range from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands per year. Some insurers may offer discounts for professionals who have a good claims history, belong to professional associations, or have completed specific risk management courses.

Factors that Affect Premiums

Some of the factors that can affect the cost of professional liability insurance include the following:

  • The type of profession and the level of risk involved.
  • The amount of coverage needed.
  • The deductible or self-insured retention amount.
  • The geographic location of the insured.
  • The claims history of the insured.
  • Whether the insured belongs to a professional association.
  • Any discounts the insurer offers, such as for completion of risk management courses.

How to Get a Quote

To obtain a quote for professional liability insurance, professionals can contact an insurance broker or agent who specializes in this type of insurance. The broker or agent can help assess the risks and coverage needs of the professional and provide quotes from multiple insurers. Professionals can also obtain quotes directly from insurers by filling out an online application or contacting their customer service.

Pros and Cons of Professional Liability Insurance

Like any insurance product, professional liability insurance has its advantages and disadvantages. Here are some of the pros and cons to consider:


  • Protection against financial loss: Professional liability insurance can help protect professionals from potentially costly legal claims and damages, which could otherwise lead to significant financial loss.
  • Enhanced credibility: Professional liability insurance can help demonstrate to clients and potential clients that a professional is serious about their work and takes responsibility for their actions.
  • Compliance with regulations: In some professions, professional liability insurance is required by law or professional associations.


  • Cost: The cost of professional liability insurance can be high, especially for professionals with a high level of risk. Some professionals may find it challenging to afford the premiums, which could lead to being uninsured or underinsured.
  • Exclusions and limitations: Professional liability insurance policies may have exclusions and limitations that could restrict coverage in certain situations, leaving professionals vulnerable to claims.
  • Reputation: Fitting a claim under professional liability insurance could damage a professional’s reputation or affect client relationships.

Next Steps

Professional liability insurance can provide valuable protection for professionals who provide advice, expertise, or services to their clients. Professionals must understand their policies’ scope of coverage, limits, and exclusions to ensure they are adequately protected. The cost of professional liability insurance can vary widely depending on factors such as the level of risk involved, the amount of coverage needed, and the type of profession. Professionals should weigh the pros and cons of professional liability insurance before deciding whether to purchase a policy. By doing so, they can make an informed decision about protecting themselves and their clients from potential legal claims and damages.

Professional Liability Insurance

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Frequently Asked Questions

What types of professionals typically need professional liability insurance?

Doctors, lawyers, accountants, architects, engineers, and other professionals providing advice or services may need professional liability insurance.

What are the benefits of professional liability insurance?

Professional liability insurance protects against lawsuits and financial damages resulting from errors or omissions in professional services.

Shawn Plummer

CEO, The Annuity Expert

Shawn Plummer is a licensed insurance agent and annuity broker with over a decade of first-hand experience. Since beginning his journey in 2009, he has been pivotal in selling and educating about annuities and insurance products. Still, he has also played an instrumental role in training financial advisors for a prestigious Fortune Global 500 insurance company, Allianz. His insights and expertise have made him a sought-after voice in the industry, leading to features in renowned publications such as Time Magazine, Bloomberg, Entrepreneur, Yahoo! Finance, MSN, SmartAsset, The Simple Dollar, U.S. News and World Report, Women’s Health Magazine, and many more. Shawn’s driving ambition? To simplify retirement planning, he ensures his clients understand their choices and secure the best insurance coverage at unbeatable rates.

The Annuity Expert is an independent online insurance agency servicing consumers across the United States. The goal is to help you take the guesswork out of retirement planning and find the best insurance coverage at the cheapest rates

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