Professional Liability Insurance: What It Is and How It Works

Professional Liability Insurance: What It Is and How It Works

Professional Liability Insurance (PLI), also known as errors and omissions (E&O) insurance, is a safeguard for professionals in industries such as financial services, healthcare, real estate, and IT consulting against damages arising from the rendering of or failure to render professional services. It’s designed to protect against claims initiated by clients, covering a range of liabilities not covered by commercial general liability coverage.

Professional liability insurance, also called ‘professional indemnity insurance,’ protects personnel against negligence claims made by their patients or clients. Specific professional liability insurance carries different names depending on the profession. For example, professional liability insurance in the medical profession is also known as ‘medical malpractice insurance,’ while real estate brokers fall under ‘errors and omissions insurance.’ Because claims become more frequent in a struggling economy, having professional liability insurance is crucial in ensuring professionals can work with peace of mind.


Understanding Professional Liability Insurance

In understanding Professional Liability Insurance (PLI) it’s essential to recognize its broad coverage and the specific risks it addresses, especially for those in service-providing industries such as financial services, healthcare, and IT consulting. Here are key points to consider:

  • Coverage Scope:
    • Legal costs associated with negligence, errors, or omissions in services provided.
    • Financial protection against claims of undelivered services and breach of contract.
    • Includes defence against accusations like negligence, misrepresentation, or providing inaccurate advice.
  • Distinct Features:
    • Unlike general liability insurance, PLI focuses on non-physical claims related to professional services, not covering bodily injuries or property damages.
    • Policies are typically claims-made, meaning they cover claims made within the active policy period. However, Occurrence policies protect against incidents during the policy’s term, regardless of when the claim is filed.
  • Benefits for Professionals:
    • Protects against frivolous lawsuits and covers damages or reparations to the claimant, ensuring peace of mind.
    • Maintains professional reputation by defending against unfounded allegations and supports financial stability by mitigating legal costs.


Who Needs Professional Liability Insurance?

Professionals across various industries providing services or advice should seriously consider the protection offered by professional liability insurance (PLI). Here’s a breakdown of who needs this coverage:

  • Service Providers and Consultants: This includes but is not limited to financial advisors, IT consultants, software developers, web designers, and healthcare professionals. These individuals are at risk of facing claims related to the advice or services they provide.
  • Design and Construction Professionals: Architects, engineers, and interior designers need PLI to cover potential claims arising from errors or omissions in their work.
  • Legal and Financial Experts: Accountants, lawyers, and real estate agents are among those who may not only benefit from PLI but may also required to have specific forms of malpractice insurance depending on their employer.

Additionally, small business owners, independent contractors, and even employees in these fields might find themselves needing PLI based on client requirements or as a safeguard against professional mistakes. This insurance is crucial for maintaining the integrity and financial stability of professionals and businesses alike, ensuring they can continue to offer their expertise confidently.


Key Features Offered by Professional Liability Insurance

Professional Liability Insurance (PLI) offers a broad spectrum of coverages tailored to protect professionals across various industries, including financial services, design and construction, IT consultants, software developers, web designers, healthcare, and real estate, against specific risks inherent to their professional activities. Key coverages include:

  • Coverage Limits: Offering flexibility, PLI provides small business coverage limits ranging from $250,000 up to $2,000,000, while large businesses can secure coverage up to $25,000,000.
  • Claims-Made Basis: Policies predominantly operate on a claims-made basis, ensuring protection for claims made and events occurring within the active policy period. This includes indemnification against losses arising from covered errors, omissions, or negligent acts committed in the conduct of the insured’s professional business.

This tailored approach ensures that professionals can confidently offer their services or advice, knowing they are protected against a wide range of potential liabilities.

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What does Professional Liability Insurance Cost?

The cost of Professional Liability Insurance (PLI) is a critical consideration for professionals in service or advice consulting sectors. Here’s a breakdown to help you navigate through the pricing:

  • Average Costs:
    • Small and medium-sized businesses: $1,200 – $5,000 annually 2.

The prices listed are estimates only. Various factors will determine your actual premium. We recommend contacting us for a personalized quote.

  • Factors Influencing Costs:
    • Industry and Practice Area: Costs vary significantly by the professional field and specific services offered.
    • Business Size and Employee Number: The more employees and revenue there are, the higher the potential risk and cost.
    • Claims History: A history of claims and loss ratio can increase premiums.
    • Policy Limits and Add-ons: Higher coverage limits and additional protections can raise the price.
  • Cost Management Tips:
    • Risk Reduction: Implementing workplace safety measures and ensuring employees are well-trained can help lower premiums.
    • Regular Policy Review: Keeping your policy aligned with your business needs and risk profile can prevent overpaying.


Throughout this article, we’ve delved into the intricacies of Professional Liability Insurance (PLI), from its foundational principles to the essential coverages it offers, illuminating its pivotal role for those in service and advice-consulting industries. Highlighting the importance for professionals across various sectors—ranging from financial services, design and construction, to IT consulting and healthcare—the discussions have aimed at equipping these professionals with the knowledge to safeguard their practice effectively. This insurance not only protects against potential financial pitfalls due to claims of negligence or error but also instills a sense of security, enabling professionals to perform their roles with confidence and peace of mind.

As we conclude, it’s imperative to underscore the broader significance of PLI within the professional landscape. For individuals operating within these service-oriented and advisory domains, embracing PLI stands as a prudent step toward fortifying their professional endeavours against unforeseen challenges. By doing so, they not only preserve their financial stability and professional reputation but also ensure their ability to continue providing valuable services to their clients. In light of the complexities and the undeniable benefits outlined, professionals are encouraged to assess their need for PLI carefully—crafting a shield that not only meets but exceeds the exigencies of their professional practice.



What is the function of Professional Indemnity (PI) Insurance?

Professional Indemnity (PI) Insurance is a type of commercial policy that safeguards the personal actions of professionals rendering aid against claims of substandard service by clients. It is applicable to any organization that offers professional services or advice, providing protection in case a client is dissatisfied with the work and decides to sue.

What does Professional Liability Insurance encompass?

Professional Liability Insurance offers protection against accusations of mistakes, oversights, or negligence that may occur in the course of conducting professional activities. It covers legal fees, administrative costs, and any settlements that may arise from court proceedings, regardless of whether the claims are without merit.

How does “claims made” coverage operate in Professional Liability Insurance?

“Claims made” coverage under Professional Liability Insurance applies to claims filed during the policy year. This type of policy may also include incidents that occur after the retroactive date specified in the policy, with the addition of such coverage referred to as “prior acts.”

Can you explain the distinction between Professional Liability Insurance and General Liability Insurance?

The main difference between Professional Liability Insurance and General Liability Insurance lies in the nature of the claims they cover. General Liability Insurance addresses compensation claims filed by individuals who have suffered personal injuries or property damages, whereas Professional Liability Insurance deals with compensation claims from clients who are affected by errors or omissions in the professional services provided.

Insights are not intended to be exhaustive, nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel or an insurance professional for appropriate advice.

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