16 February 2011

professional liability insurance definition

professional liability insurance definition ; Professional liability insurance, also called Professional Indemnity Insurance, protects professional practitioners against potential negligence claims made by their patients/clients. Professional liability insurance may take on different names depending on the profession. For example, professional liability insurance in reference to the medical profession may be called Medical Malpractice. Notaries public may take out errors and omissions insurance (E&O). 

Other potential E&O policyholders include, for example, real estate brokers, appraisers, management consultants and website developers. There are also specific E&O policies for technology companies, such as software developers, technology consultants and other creators of technology. This coverage focuses on the failure to perform, financial loss and error or omission of the products or services sold. Additional coverage for breach of warranty, intellectual property, personal injury, security and cost of contract can be added. In a nutshell, this coverage could benefit any business that provides advice or gives a service - and is sometimes required under contract by other businesses that are the beneficiaries of the advice or service.

The primary reason for professional liability coverage is that a typical general liability insurance policy will only respond to a bodily injury, property damage, personal injury or advertising injury claim. The above mentioned professional services and products can cause claims without causing a bodily injury, property damage, personal injury or advertising injury. Common reasons alleged in making claims on these policies are negligence, misrepresentation, violation of good faith and fair dealing, and inaccurate advice. For example, if a software product fails to perform properly, it may not cause physical damages, personal or advertising injuries, therefore the general liability policy would not be triggered. It may, however, directly cause financial losses which could potentially be attributed to the software developer's misrepresentation of the product capabilities. Importantly, the coverage may not just cover the financial loss but also provide for the defence costs - even if a legal action turns out to be groundless.

Professional liability insurance policies are generally set up based on a claims-made basis, meaning that the policy only covers claims made during the policy period, claims which may relate to incidents occurring before the coverage was active may not be covered. However these policies will have a retroactive date which can operate to provide cover for claims made during the policy period but which relate to an incident after the retroactive date (where the retroactive date is earlier than the inception date of the policy). It is important to continue your coverage, because cancelling the policy, will in effect, make it as if you never had coverage for any incidents.

Although the phrase 'professional liability insurance' is often used to describe the cover provided by a professional indemnity policy, it may also refer to a simple liability policy for professionals. Such liability insurance comprises the standard Employers, Public and Product Liability and is available either as part of a professional indemnity policy or on a separate policy on its own.

These policies used only to be available through traditional insurance agents, but like auto insurance there is now some momentum for these policies to be available through small business insurance online quote and buy facilities such as Hiscox or Insurancebee.

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