Product liability insurance can help cover your legal expenses if someone claims that a product you sold, made, or distributed caused an injury or property damage.
If you sell, make, or distribute products, you likely need this policy. Any business in the supply chain could be blamed if a product causes harm, and there are few limitations on who can file a product liability lawsuit.
If a product allegedly hurts someone or causes them financial loss, product liability coverage will help pay your legal fees, judgment, or settlement.
This insurance is sometimes called products-completed operations coverage. “Products” refers to the items you make or sell. “Completed operations” refers to completed work, such as a roof or deck built by your company.
Product liability insurance helps pay for legal expenses when a product that you made, sold, or distributed causes a personal injury, property damage, or other loss.
Specifically, product liability insurance can provide coverage for:
If an item that you made or sold causes a bodily injury, product liability insurance can cover the cost of hiring an attorney. It would also cover the resulting settlement or court-ordered judgment.
Product liability insurance provides coverage when an item you sell or manufacture damages a customer’s property. The damage could be related to a product defect or a mistake in an instruction manual that led it to be used incorrectly.
This insurance coverage protects against illnesses caused by products sold or manufactured by your business. That includes everything from expired food that sickens a customer to a beauty product that causes an allergic reaction.
Product liability insurance also covers lawsuits, burial costs, and other expenses related to a death caused by your product.
Product liability insurance is crucial for any business that manufactures or sells goods, along with distributors, importers, and any other business that touches a product. This policy protects against design flaws and other product liability risks and may be required by clients and partners.
Specifically, businesses in the following industries should carry this coverage:
Manufacturers rely on this coverage for protection against manufacturing defects and similar risks.
For example, a furniture manufacturer accidentally produces a series of chairs with improperly tightened screws. If one of the chairs breaks when a customer sits on it, the company's product liability policy would pay for their medical treatment, along with legal defense costs if they file a lawsuit.
Note that this coverage may cost more for manufacturers, as they face higher risks than other industries.
Product liability insurance is important for every business in the supply chain, especially if you deal in pharmaceuticals or other high-risk products. Retailers, distributors, and wholesalers can be held liable for damages caused by products, even if they weren't directly responsible.
For example, a candle maker might use essential oils in their candles that sicken a customer. When the customer sues to recoup their medical expenses, a product liability policy would cover the legal costs.
Products-completed operations insurance is a crucial part of risk management for general contractors and other construction and installation professionals. They need this coverage in case their work is linked to an injury or property damage after it’s completed.
For example, if a homeowner sues because their newly installed sink leaks and damages their flooring, this policy would cover the contractor's legal costs.
Professionals who work in the beauty and cosmetology industry should also invest in product liability insurance. If a product that you sell or apply to your customer causes an adverse reaction, this coverage can help pay your legal defense fees and the cost of a settlement.
For example, a hair salon might sell another company's bottled hair dye. If a customer has a serious allergic reaction to the dye, this policy would cover the salon's legal fees.
Restaurants and other food service businesses rely on product liability insurance to protect against legal costs related to contaminated food and food allergies. If a customer gets sick after eating at your restaurant, this policy can help pay for attorney's fees, court-ordered judgments, and other costs.
For example, a deli might serve expired cold cuts to a customer, who gets severe food poisoning. This policy would covers costs when the customer sues over their medical expenses and missed days of work.
Product liability insurance is vital for cannabis businesses, as your products carry a risk of panic attacks and other adverse reactions. In fact, some state laws mandate this coverage for licensed cannabis businesses.
For instance, a cannabis dispensary might sell edibles that have a higher THC content than stated on the label. If a consumer gets into a car accident after ingesting the product, the dispensary could face expensive medical costs or legal fees.
Product liability insurance coverage protects against the most common risks associated with products, but it doesn't provide all the protection you need. Your policy will not cover the following types of claims:
If an employee is injured by a product sold or manufactured by your business, workers’ compensation insurance would cover the employee’s medical expenses. It would also cost your legal costs if the employee sues over the injury.
If your business is forced to close temporarily, business interruption insurance can cover day-to-day expenses until your business reopens. The closure typically must be tied to a property insurance claim, such as a fire or burst pipe.
Contingent business interruption insurance provides financial protection if the loss of a supplier affects your ability to do business. For example, it would cover costs if a supply chain disruption temporarily shut down a manufacturing plant.
Yes, for several reasons.
First, your business might be unaware it sold a defective product. Every business in the supply chain can face a product liability claim, even if they didn't design or manufacture the product.
Second, a customer might also claim your business provided insufficient warnings or inaccurate instructions. If they get injured using your product incorrectly, they could blame your company.
Finally, a customer could sue because they’re unhappy with your product. Even when a lawsuit is frivolous, your small business still needs to pay for a legal defense.
Though they are often purchased together, these two policies are not the same.
General liability insurance provides coverage against the most common small business claims. It covers accidental damages, such as a customer slipping in a puddle at your shop and breaking an arm (or their phone). It also helps pay for lawsuits that claim you damaged a competitor’s reputation or copied their logo.
A product liability policy covers damages related to your products or completed services. That’s why manufacturers, retailers, and contractors need both types of coverage.
Product liability insurance is not designed for software, applications, and similar IT and technical products. Small business owners who produce these types of products should carry errors and omissions insurance (E&O) to protect against coding mistakes and software errors.
If a problem with your software could lead to property damage or physical injuries, you might want to invest in product liability insurance as well. For instance, this policy would cover legal costs if your software caused a battery to overheat and injure someone.
If you want to learn more about this policy, you can find additional answers in our frequently asked questions about product liability insurance.
For any other questions about coverage, you can also contact an Insureon agent.