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General Liability vs. Professional Liability

By The Hartford


As a business owner, it can be a challenge to figure out what types of insurance you need. The right policies depend on the types of risks your company faces.

Big and small businesses both face liability risks, but the type of liability can change based on what you do. For example, a contractor might be liable if something they’ve built injures someone, where a consulting business might be liable for a client’s financial losses if they made a mistake in the advice they gave.

Both of these types of liabilities can lead to a lawsuit. That’s where general liability insurance and professional liability insurance come into play.


How General Liability Differs From Professional Liability

The main difference between general liability and professional liability is in the types of risks they each cover. General liability covers physical risks, such as bodily injuries and property damage. Professional liability covers more abstract risks, such as errors and omissions in the services your business provides.

General Liability Insurance Definition and Risks Covered

General liability insurance helps cover:

Bodily injury claims, such as someone getting hurt at your business. This doesn’t include your employees’ injuries, though. Your workers' compensation insurance can help cover their work-related injuries or illnesses.

Medical payments if someone gets hurt on your business property.

Property damage your business or employees cause.

Reputational harm if someone sues you for malicious prosecution, libel, slander, wrongful eviction, privacy violations and more.

Advertising errors if you face a lawsuit for copyright infringement in your advertisement.

Who Should Take Out General Liability Insurance?

General liability insurance is a good idea for most small business owners because it helps protect you from risks you face in many common business situations. This coverage is so important that we’ve bundled it as part of our standard Business Owner’s Policy (BOP).

How Much Does General Liability Insurance Cost?

Your cost of general liability insurance typically depends on many factors, including your:

  • Type of business, because if you’re in certain industries, like construction, you face more risks and may pay more for a policy.

  • Years of experience, because businesses that have been around longer usually pay a lower rate than newer ones.

  • Location, especially if you’re in an area that has a higher risk of damage from disasters, like storms or floods.

To learn more about your business’ specific insurance cost, get a general liability quote.

Professional Liability Insurance Definition and Risks Covered

Professional liability insurance, also known as errors and omissions insurance, helps protect your business if your client claims financial damages from the professional service that you provide.

Professional liability insurance can help cover business’ legal defense costs:

  • If a bookkeeper makes a clerical error that costs their client thousands of dollars.

  • If a web developer makes a mistake on a client’s e-commerce site, resulting in missed sales opportunities.

  • If an accountant files an incorrect tax return for their client, resulting in a penalty fee.

Who Should Take Out Professional Liability Insurance?

Some states may require certain businesses to have professional liability insurance. For instance, healthcare professionals need medical malpractice insurance, which is a type of professional liability.

You might have to carry professional liability coverage if your clients require it when you sign a contract. Regardless of whether you’re required to have it by law, it’s important to get the protection you need with professional liability insurance, especially if you work with clients or customers.

Some examples of businesses that should carry professional liability insurance include:

  • Lawyers or law firms

  • Consultants or professionals

  • Accountants or tax preparers

  • Home inspectors

  • Technology professionals

How Much Does Professional Liability Insurance Cost?

Businesses can make different mistakes. That’s why the cost of professional liability insurance varies from one business to another. Some general factors that can impact your professional liability cost include your:

  • Type of business

  • Policy coverage limits

  • Number of employees

  • Years in business

  • Location

  • Claims history

Find out how much a policy might cost you and how this insurance can help protect your business by getting a professional liability quote.


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