Professionals are accountable for their actions every time they undertake work for a client. This means that even a simple mistake, a misunderstanding or disagreement with a client can potentially lead to an accusation of negligence and an expensive law suit.
If a claim is made, the professional will have to cover the costs of defending the claim. This invariably means, at the very least, incurring attorney's fees, and in the worst case, paying damages and the claimant's legal costs as well. Errors and Omissions insurance is designed to protect professionals against those risks.
Errors & Omissions insurance was previously required only in traditional professions such as architecture, engineering, law and medicine but today it has become a vital form of protection for consultants in any field such as Information Technology, design, marketing, business consulting, real estate and recruitment. Also known as Professional Liability Insurance or E&O insurance, the insurance covers the financial consequences of either an error - something a professional has done wrong, or an omission - something the professional has failed to do.
Claims frequently arise from disputes deriving from confused communication between the professional and client, or a perception that the professional over-promised. Even if there are no obvious 'errors' or 'omissions', this may not stop a client from alleging negligence. This means even the most diligent professionals are at risk from a client claim and the associated cost of defending themselves.
In the event of a claim, professionals will often have to defend themselves against clients with deeper pockets who can easily afford the cost of litigation. An Errors and Omissions insurance policy from a reputable insurer helps level the playing field.
What's more, professional liability litigation is often outside the expertise of the majority of commercial lawyers, which can make it hard for the professional who doesn't have coverage, to find a suitable lawyer. An E&O insurer, on the other hand, will have access to lawyers who specialize in professional liability litigation and negligence lawsuits.
Smaller clients may choose to hire attorneys on a contingency ('no win, no fee') basis. The professional without coverage will have to find a suitable law firm, pay a sizable deposit, and pay for any of their attorney's costs as they arise - whether they win or lose the case - as it is unlikely that the court will award costs in their favor.
Many professionals seek the protection afforded by forming a Limited Liability Company (LLC) - but the company will still need protection against claims of negligence from clients. Errors and Omissions insurance will help protect the company's assets and if it doesn't have assets, the policy will also protect the directors' or officers' personal assets.
Even if the professional individual or firm adopts the best in-house processes and procedures, does the best work, and never makes a mistake, it may not stop a client from making a claim alleging negligence. The coverage of an Errors and Omissions insurance policy will help to minimize disruption caused by a law suit and protect the reputation and finances of the business.