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Is your small business required to carry professional liability insurance?

Client contracts often require professional liability insurance. Businesses in certain industries are also required to have this coverage.

Why carry professional liability insurance?

People are always trying to sell you and your business on their products, promising results no other product can deliver. But in the case of professional liability insurance, there really is no substitute – it is the only business insurance that financially protects your company from lawsuits over your job performance.

Clients sometimes require this coverage in their contracts to ensure they don't suffer losses because of your work. In order to maintain and grow your business, you might need to purchase professional liability insurance and provide clients with a certificate of insurance. However, that's not the only situation when it's beneficial to have adequate professional liability protection.

Professional liability insurance protects your investments

Any business that involves technical training or specialized services can get sued over a mistake or oversight. Your particular skills may create market opportunities, but they also increase your risk of liability. Professional liability insurance covers your legal expenses when a third party sues you, alleging your services are to blame for their financial losses.

Here are two things to keep in mind:

  • The situations leading to a professional liability lawsuit are distressingly common. (See professional liability lawsuit examples.)
  • Lawsuits are expensive, and those costs can cripple your business.
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Professional liability insurance leads to business opportunities

There's always a risk that you or an employee could make a mistake in your work – or be wrongfully accused of making one. That's why larger business partners might require you to carry professional liability insurance before they sign a contract with you. A professional liability insurance policy signals to your potential clients that you have their interests in mind and that you handle your business responsibly.

It can also give you a professional advantage over competitors who don't have coverage. You can bid for projects your competitors can't handle or advertise a benefit your competitors can't provide.

Professional liability insurance might be required by your industry

Certain industries are more high-risk than others – a fact government or professional licensing organizations pay attention to. Depending on the type of work you do, you might need to carry professional liability insurance to comply with industry standards. For example:

  • Every state has rules mandating that attorneys either carry malpractice / professional liability insurance or advertise their insurance status to clients.
  • Medical professionals such as doctors, nurses, counselors, physical rehabilitation specialists, and therapists are often required to carry a minimum amount of malpractice insurance.
  • Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) require businesses working on government projects to carry insurance for "the perils to which the contractor is exposed" – including professional liability insurance.

Your contracts, tax laws, or other regulations in your industry might tangentially require that you have professional liability insurance. A lawyer or insurance agent can provide more details on whether you must comply with these coverage requirements.

Keeping the same professional liability policy may lower premium costs

Certain business owners might think it's savvy to hold off on purchasing professional liability insurance until they anticipate a claim against their business. But there are serious problems with this approach:

Insurers ask about your insurance history before agreeing to coverage. A history of obtaining and dropping professional liability coverage is a major red flag, which can increase the cost of your policy and can eventually lead to insurers denying you coverage.

Professional liability insurance operates on a claims-made basis, which means you're only covered for incidents and claims that happen while your policy is active. If you commit an error or encounter a situation that you think will lead to a lawsuit and you don't already have coverage, you're unprotected. You must have coverage before the inciting incident and maintain coverage throughout the claim to be covered.

The best business practice, therefore, is to get professional liability insurance as soon as you can and maintain the same policy for the life of your business. This reduces your costs and guarantees protection.

Save money by comparing quotes with Insureon

Complete Insureon’s easy online application today to compare professional liability insurance quotes from top-rated U.S. companies. Once you find the right policy for your small business, you can begin coverage in less than 24 hours.

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Professional liability lawsuit examplesHow do I apply for professional liability insurance?Common questions about professional liability certificates of insuranceProfessional liability insurance for independent contractorsFrequently asked questions about professional liability
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