While many professionals require some type of liability coverage, errors and omissions insurance specifically covers real estate agents, among others, for most mistakes made while acting in a professional capacity on behalf of a client. This coverage is essential for anyone who, during the course of a normal business day, assists clients, makes suggestions or recommendations, provides designs solutions or represents the needs of others in any other similar way.
This includes consultants, telecommunication carriers, software developers, web designers, ad copywriters, placement services, and, a host of others. For example, any time a real estate agent acts on behalf of a client and is later accused of making a mistake, or negligent misrepresentation, such as failing to disclose a known material fact he or she was aware of, they run the risk of being sued.
Regardless of the outcome, there is the likelihood of the burden of paying legal defense costs. Fortunately E&O policies are designed to cover many of these defense costs, as well as the final judgment to the plaintiff, in the event that the licensee doesn’t win their case.
General Liability insurance doesn’t cover professional liability
General liability insurance absolutely will not cover individuals for claims associated with errors and omissions (E&O). Most liability policies either cover only accidents, as opposed to actual claims of professional errors, or have explicit exclusions stating that no E&O claims will be covered.
The different types of E&O policies available
In the early days, E&O insurance policies provided “occurrence” coverage. These types of policies covered all acts made during the coverage term, with little or no regard to when claims were actually made. Referred to as a “long tail” policy, they permitted the filing of claims up to twenty years after the covered mistake.
In the early 1980s, “claims made” policies were created, which only cover claims made while the policy is in effect, including a short “tail” period (usually around 60 days). There is an option available to an insured to cover acts prior to the start of the policy, using a “retroactive date”, and some policies can also provide “tail endorsements” if an insured wants a longer time period after the policy ends.
The “claims made” form of policy dramatically reduced coverage costs for errors and omissions insurance carriers, while providing a more stable and more manageable risk calculation. For specific questions regarding coverage options speak to a local insurer.