If you're a professional, such as a lawyer, accountant or architect, you're vulnerable to lawsuits. Defending yourself and your business in a lawsuit – even one that's a frivolous claim – can drain your finances, sap your time and possibly ruin your business.
To protect yourself and your company, professional liability coverage is extremely important. What you would pay for a monthly deductible is far less than the costs you'd face to defend a lawsuit. When shopping for professional liability insurance, consider:
- If the policy covers legal fees and expenses in addition to damages.
- If the policy's coverage limit will cover all of the potential fees and damages.
- If you can afford the deductible.
- Who's covered by the policy.
- If the policy covers prior acts.
- If the policy covers mental anguish or only tangible losses.
- If the policy is on a claims-made basis (meaning that coverage applies to claims made during the policy period regardless of when the incident occurred).
Errors and omissionsIf a customer holds you responsible for errors or for the failure of your services of products to perform as promised, errors and omissions insurance can protect your company. Coverage typically includes court costs in addition to any judgments against you. Remember that general liability polices won't cover error and omissions.
Employment practices liabilityThis form of liability insurance protects employers from claims made by employees, former employees and potential hires. Coverage includes claims, such as sexual harassment and wrongful termination. Coverage generally covers an entire firm, including its directors and officers.
Directors and officersManagement can be sued as a result of their performance on the job. Errors and omissions policies don't cover directors and officers. A separate directors and officers liability insurance policy is often recommended to provide financial protection in the event of a lawsuit.
Group personal excess liabilityThis form of liability insurance can protect the personal assets of managers and key employees.
Tax and financial servicesProfessional liability insurance is available for tax and financial services providers, including those who perform tax return preparation, bookkeeping services, payroll processing services and financial planning.
LawyersThe exposure to legal malpractice suits is higher than ever and small firms aren't exempt. At this time, all lawyers professional liability insurance is claims-made. Some policies offer "tail coverage", which means the policy is still in effect for a predetermined period of time after a law firm is dissolved, a lawyer retires or a policy has been canceled.
Architects and engineersSimilar to malpractice insurance, this variation of errors and omissions insurance is designed specifically for architects, engineers and other design professionals.
Information technologyComputer consulting and IT services firms are also potential targets for lawsuits.
- Ask your broker exactly what each policy covers and which one is right for your specific business.
- Avoid having any gaps in your policy. Make sure your policies cover several contingencies such as what happens if an employee sues you for discrimination or if someone falls and gets injured in your office.
- Look for a broker who specializes in your industry.