Professional Liability Insurance in Washington State
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Professional liability insurance in Washington state

Professional liability insurance, also called errors and omissions insurance (E&O), protects small business owners against the cost of client lawsuits over unsatisfactory work. Although not required by state law, it's strongly recommended for professional service providers in Washington State.

What is covered under professional liability insurance in Washington State?

Professional liability insurance covers the cost of lawsuits related to the quality of your work, including legal fees and settlements.

It covers the following types of customer claims for many Washington businesses:

  • Accusations of negligence, such as an architect who creates an unsafe building design.
  • Work mistakes and oversights, such as an accountant who makes a mathematical error or fails to include the right data in their work resulting in a financial loss to the client.
  • Inaccurate advice, such as an attorney who misinterprets a legal statute that results in a costly mistake.
  • Missed deadlines and undelivered services, such as a web designer who fails to build a website before a client’s busy season.
Some counties in Washington State require contractors to carry professional liability with the minimum limits of $1,000,000 per claim and in the aggregate, in order to work on public service contracts.

Is professional liability insurance required in Washington?

Washington State law doesn't require small business owners to have a professional liability insurance policy. However, you might need this coverage to sign a contract, get a license in your field, or hold a position.

Healthcare professionals

Professional liability is referred to as medical malpractice insurance when it applies to doctors and other healthcare professionals, such as therapists.

Washington State doesn't have a legal mandate requiring practicing physicians to carry medical malpractice insurance. However, most hospitals and physician’s offices in Washington have malpractice insurance requirements for doctors with admitting privileges.

Standard liability limits that most doctors maintain are $1,000,000 per occurrence / $3,000,000 aggregate (per year). Higher risk specialties like surgeons and OB/GYNs will need higher limits. This coverage is essential in a setting where a mistake could cause a bodily injury or worsen a medical condition.

Real estate professionals

Washington State doesn't require real estate agents to have E&O insurance. But your real estate franchise, bank partners, and even clients may ask you to have this coverage and show proof of insurance in business contracts.

In this type of profession, E&O covers situations such as not disclosing a problem with a property, listing incorrect information in an MLS sheet, and bodily injuries or property damage that can happen during a showing.


For lawyers, professional liability is also known as legal malpractice insurance. While this coverage is not mandated, Washington State requires attorneys who are uninsured to report their insurance status to the Washington State Bar Association yearly.

Additionally, the Washington Supreme Court requires attorneys to disclose to clients if they do not have professional liability insurance or lack the minimum level of insurance. Which is $100,000 per occurrence and $300,000 aggregate.

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Who should carry professional liability insurance in Washington State?

Any business that provides a professional service or expert advice should carry professional liability coverage, as a client could sue if your service or advice causes accidental harm. Even a frivolous lawsuit can be expensive between accounting for attorney’s fees, court costs, or a settlement.

Industries often at risk for professional liability claims include:

Technology professionals

IT consultants and other tech professionals are susceptible to lawsuits related to system downtime, data breaches, missed deadlines, and errors. They can bundle E&O insurance and cyber insurance into one policy—tech E&O—to protect against all of these risks.

Building design businesses

Those who work in building design, such as architects and engineers, are at risk of a lawsuit if a client accuses them of making a costly mistake. For example, a bridge could develop cracks over time, or a project could be delayed for months due to unforeseen circumstances.

Contractors and construction businesses

Those who work in construction and contracting, such as carpenters and electricians, could face a client lawsuit over construction delays. They could also face accusations of negligence if the customer is dissatisfied with their work or has to make expensive changes or repairs after a job is finished.

Some counties in Washington State require contractors to carry professional liability with the minimum limits of $1,000,000 per claim and in the aggregate, in order to work on public service contracts.

Additionally, home inspectors are required by the state of Washington to carry errors and omission insurance with a minimum aggregate of $25,000 that covers two years after the date of their last inspection.

Insurance professionals

Insurance professionals, including agents and insurance brokers, deal with large amounts of financial data and at times have to use their best judgment in advising their clients. If a client doesn’t have enough coverage, or the right type of coverage, they might blame their agent or the insurance agency for failing to make sure they were protected.

Even if you’ve done nothing wrong, a disgruntled customer might file a lawsuit if your advice leads to a financial loss.

How much does professional liability insurance cost in Washington State?

View video transcript.

Get professional liability insurance to protect yourself from claims that you didn't deliver on a deadline, or made a costly mistake.

Some clients require you to have this policy. It can protect you from expensive lawsuits for only about 60 dollars per month.

Don't put your business at risk. Apply for your policy today!

Alert. Alert.

The average cost of professional liability insurance nationwide is $61 per month. In Washington State, the average cost is $66 per month.

The cost of professional liability coverage depends on several factors, such as:

  • Your type of business, industry, and similar risk factors
  • Coverage limits and deductible
  • Your business size and location
  • Day-to-day operations
  • Your claims history
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How does professional liability insurance work in the state of Washington?

Professional liability insurance covers your legal defense costs if you’re sued over a mistake in your professional work.

Even if you’ve done nothing wrong, a legal battle can be expensive. In addition to your attorney’s hourly rate, you’ll likely be charged for administrative costs such as copying, filing, and travel expenses. You may also have to pay for expert witnesses to testify on your behalf, a court-ordered legal judgment, or a settlement to avoid trial.

Professional liability insurance covers all of the above, up to the coverage limits of your policy. The policy limits you choose should take into account how expensive it can be to fight a professional liability lawsuit. You also need to determine the amount of coverage required to obtain a contract or work in a certain field.

This policy can be very affordable for small businesses in Seattle and elsewhere in Washington. Contact an insurance agent if you need help choosing the right coverage limits or other options.

Are there exclusions in professional liability insurance?

A professional liability policy covers a wide range of lawsuits, but it will not cover intentional harm you cause to others. Most insurance companies exclude:

  • The illegal violation of any law, regulation, or statute
  • Any services you provide under the name of another entity, such as a subsidiary business or organization not listed on your policy
  • Defamation, such as libel and slander
  • Discrimination

Does general liability insurance include professional liability coverage?

General liability insurance doesn't include professional liability coverage. General liability covers common business risks and liability claims such as customer injuries, customer property damage, and advertising injuries.

If a customer falls and suffers an injury at your workplace, it would be covered by your general liability policy, which would include your legal defense costs. If someone sues you over unsatisfactory work, it would be covered by your professional liability coverage.

Read more about general liability vs. professional liability insurance.

What other types of business insurance do WA companies need?

General liability and professional liability are often the first two policies purchased by small business owners. However, businesses in Washington may also need:

Workers’ compensation insurance is required for all employers in the state of Washington, even if the company only has one employee, including part-time workers. It covers medical expenses and lost wages for workers who are injured on the job.

Commercial property insurance covers your physical business property and equipment. It’s often required to sign leases.

A business owner’s policy (BOP) combines general liability coverage and commercial property insurance. It's usually less expensive than buying each policy separately.

Commercial auto insurance is required in Washington for any vehicles used solely for work purposes.

Cyber insurance covers the cost of dealing with a data breach or malicious software attack.

Employment practices liability insurance (EPLI) will protect against lawsuit expenses related to claims of harassment, discrimination, and wrongful termination that professional liability typically won’t cover.

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I'm ready to get professional liability insurance for my Washington business. What's next?

Complete Insureon’s easy online application today to compare insurance quotes from top-rated U.S. providers. Our Washington State licensed insurance agents can help answer any questions and provide advice on business insurance coverage. Once you find the right small business insurance, you can begin coverage and receive your certificate of insurance in less than 24 hours.
Updated: February 29, 2024
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