As an entrepreneur or professional, it’s crucial to understand the key differences between professional liability and general liability. Why? Well, behind every successful business lies a web of risks and responsibilities.

Knowing the difference between professional and general liability can help protect your business from potential lawsuits, financial losses, reputational damage, and more. 

In this post, we will embark on a journey to demystify and distinguish these insurance terms, empowering you with the knowledge to safeguard your business effectively.

Why Is Liability Insurance Important?

Liability insurance aims to protect businesses from financial losses that may arise due to third-party claims. The insurer will cover the cost of legal fees and any damages or settlements resulting from the claim when such claims are made.

Businesses may be forced to bear litigation costs without this coverage, which can be incredibly expensive and damaging for business owners.

Understanding General Liability Insurance

What Is General Liability Insurance and Its Scope?

General liability insurance is a type of insurance policy that provides coverage for third-party claims related to:

  • Bodily injury
  • Property damage
  • Advertising
  • Personal injury

It protects businesses from financial losses arising from accidents, injuries, negligence on their premises, or as a result of their operations. General liability insurance has a broad scope, covering wide-ranging risks facing businesses.

Please note that the covered injuries are for customers, clients, and people on the property, but employee injuries would fall under Workers’ Compensation.

Common Scenarios that General Liability Insurance Covers

General liability insurance typically covers accidents or incidents on business premises, such as slip-and-fall injuries. 

It also covers damages or injuries caused by the business’s products, completed operations, or advertising. Examples include property damage caused by a contractor’s work or a customer’s injury while using a product.

Examples of Claims Covered Under General Liability Insurance

Claims covered by general liability insurance may include the following:

  • Medical expenses for injuries sustained on business premises
  • Legal defense costs
  • Settlement payments for property damage caused by the business
  • Compensation for defamation 
  • Compensation for copyright infringement related to advertising

The Significance of General Liability Insurance for Businesses

General liability insurance is crucial for businesses as it protects against the financial burden of potential lawsuits and claims. It helps cover legal defense costs, settlements, and judgments, which can be substantial and could potentially bankrupt a business. 

General liability insurance provides peace of mind and safeguards a business’s assets and reputation.

So, we can now start getting into the differences between general and professional liability insurance. Let’s inspect each option separately before contrasting them. 

The Importance of Assessing Specific Risks and Tailoring Coverage Accordingly

Businesses need to assess their specific risks and tailor their general liability insurance coverage accordingly. Varying industries face different risks, and coverage should be customized to address those risks adequately. 

By identifying and evaluating potential hazards and liabilities, businesses can ensure they have appropriate coverage to protect against the specific risks they face.

What Is Professional Liability Insurance and Its Scope?

Professional liability insurance is also called “error and omission” insurance. This type of insurance covers professionals against negligence claims, errors, omissions, or inadequate work performance in their professional services. 

It’s primarily designed to protect professionals from financial losses arising from lawsuits filed by clients alleging harm or financial loss resulting from professional errors or negligence.

How Professional Liability Insurance Differs from General Liability Insurance

1. Coverage Focus

While general liability insurance focuses on bodily injury, property damage, and advertising injury claims resulting from business operations, professional liability insurance specifically addresses claims arising from professional services. 

Professional liability covers professionals for errors, mistakes, or failures in delivering their specialized services, such as providing incorrect advice, professional negligence, or failure to meet industry standards. 

2. Cost Factors

The professional and general liability insurance premiums are calculated based on different factors. Professional liability insurance premiums depend on the following:

  • Type of profession
  • Level of risk associated with the profession
  • Claims history of the professional
  • Coverage limits desired

General liability insurance premiums are influenced by factors like the:

  • Nature of the business
  • Size of the business
  • Location
  • Previous claims history
  • Coverage limits required

3. Policy Limits and Deductibles

The policy limits and deductibles for professional and general liability insurance can vary significantly. Professional liability insurance often has higher policy limits due to the risk of significant financial losses from professional errors. 

Deductibles may also differ based on the nature of the coverage and the industry.

4. Claims Scenarios

Professional liability insurance is typically tailored to the specific risks faced by professionals in different industries. For example, a lawyer may need a policy that covers malpractice claims, while an IT consultant’s coverage should include data breach protection. 

Industries and professionals that Typically Require Professional Liability Coverage

Professional liability coverage is commonly required by professionals in various industries, including but not limited to:

1. Medical and healthcare professionals (doctors, nurses, dentists, etc.)

2. Lawyers, attorneys, and legal professionals.

3. Architects, engineers, and construction professionals.

4. Accountants, financial advisors, and tax professionals.

5. Consultants and advisors in various fields.

6. Real estate agents and brokers.

7. IT professionals and software developers.

8. Physician’s Assistants.

9. Designers, marketing agencies, and creative professionals.

Common Scenarios Covered Under Professional Liability Insurance

Professional liability insurance covers claims resulting from professional errors, mistakes, or negligence that cause financial loss or harm to clients. 

Examples include:

  • A doctor getting sued for medical malpractice.
  • An architect being held responsible for design errors in a building.
  • An accountant making a significant error in a client’s financial statements.
  • A software developer being sued for copyright infringement related to a product.

By having professional liability insurance, professionals can protect themselves from the potentially catastrophic financial losses associated with such claims. So, both types of insurance are important components of a business’s risk management strategy. 

Making Informed Choices: Selecting the Right Coverage

Start by evaluating your business and seeking professional advice to decide between professional and general liability insurance.

A. Evaluating Your Business Needs

You should consider factors like the:

  • Nature of business operations.
  • Level of professional services provided.
  • Potential risks and liabilities faced.
  • Any contractual requirements or industry standards.

A checklist can help evaluate specific insurance needs and determine whether professional liability, general liability, or a combination of both is necessary.

B. Seek Professional Advice

We highly recommend you consult with insurance experts or brokers specializing in professional liability and general liability insurance. 

These professionals can provide personalized guidance based on the business’s unique circumstances and risk profile. They can help analyze coverage options, policy terms, and pricing to ensure you make informed decisions.

The Lowdown

You should carefully consider your risk exposure and select appropriate coverage limits and deductibles that align with your needs. Understanding professional liability vs. general liability differences and how they apply to your business can help ensure you have the right insurance coverage. 

Moreover, getting personalized advice from specialists like Professional Insurance Plans will enable you to select the right coverage at the best possible rate. At Professional Plans, we specialize in covering healthcare and medical professionals, so contact us today.