TLTR: In this article you’ll learn the basics of E&O insurance for insurance agents. We’ll explain the types of coverage, and give you some essential tips to help you minimize errors.
One of the worst things an insurance agent can experience professionally is to be sued by a customer. This can happen if a client believes you made a mistake that caused them some sort of harm, financial or otherwise. The irony is that the more successful you are—that is, the more clients you have—the more likely you are to face a lawsuit one day, whether you actually ever do anything wrong or not.
That’s why it’s crucial for you as an agent to have errors and omissions insurance.
What is E&O Insurance for Insurance Agents?
Errors and omissions (E&O) is a type of professional liability insurance. It acts as financial protection for individuals as well as businesses from lawsuits claiming a mistake in any professional services. The policy also protects you from claims alleging misinformation and negligence.
In general, E&O insurance is applicable for various entities that provide services. Some professionals that require E&O insurance are:
- Insurance Agents
- Real Estate Agents
- Technology Firms
Note: Sometimes business partners might require E&O coverage as per contract in relevance to the business.
Which Insurance Professionals Is Benefit From E&O Insurance?
E&O insurance is a good choice for any insurance company with employees. It can benefit any type of business or individual offering one or more services to their clients, especially if they act as intermediaries between client and company. The insurance professionals that usually need E&O insurance are:
- P&C Agents
- Life & Health Insurance Agents
- Claims Adjusters
Note: You should consider an E&O insurance policy if you or your business frequently work with clients, customers, and other insurance professionals.
Is E&O Insurance Necessary for Insurance Agents?
Without a reliable E&O insurance policy, agents can face heavy liability claims. The cost of these claims can even be high enough to close down an agency. That’s why it really is a necessity.
If you’re sued by your clients on the grounds of negligence or lack of service, it can be a heavy burden on your finances. According to the Insurance Journal, many companies have filed lawsuits against insurance agents for lack of compensation for the interruption of daily business caused by COVID-19.
While having an error and omissions policy can be a crucial safety net for you as an insurance agent, it’s also a good idea to consider limiting the possibility of potential lawsuits. We will discuss how to do that a bit later. For now, let’s take a closer look at what E&O can do.
What Does E&O Insurance for Agents Cover?
The coverage for E&O primarily includes legal costs and settlements from any lawsuits related to professional errors and negligence. Let’s look at an example:
A company hires an independent insurance agent for advice on which polices they should have. The agent presents various options, but fails to take into account the business’s exact needs and therefore sells them a few additional policies that aren’t relevant to them. This causes the business to unknowingly have less coverage for what’s actually important to them.
The company then faces a crisis which puts them at the brink of bankruptcy and finds they don’t have enough coverage. They realize their insurance policy was far from ideal and they were paying for coverage they didn’t even need. The company then sues the independent agent who sold them the coverage policy.
If the agent has E&O insurance, this claim can trigger the coverage and pay for the damages suffered by the client.
With that example in mind, E&O insurance provides coverage against lawsuits arising from the following situations:
- Administrative mistakes
- Not upholding contractual obligations
- Unnecessary delays in service
- Lack of provision of information regarding services
- Failure of service or agreed upon deliverables
BBasically, if you as an insurance agent fail to properly assess a client’s needs, you may end up being sued. As per a 2018 Case Law Update on a Plusweb report, you may be liable for breach of an oral agreement if you provide your client with an under-valued coverage, or are unable to provide them with the coverage that they need, and aren’t able to provide them with the promised insurance.
What Does E&O Insurance for Insurance Agents Not Cover?
E&O insurance generally covers financial losses. Thus, it doesn’t provide coverage for any personal injuries to you or your property. Some of the claims that E&O insurance doesn’t cover are:
E&O will not cover illness or injury. Workers compensation insurance is a viable alternative that will cover your employee’s medical expenses and lost income if they’re injured on the job.
Damage to Business Property
E&O insurance isn’t applicable if your business suffers damage or loss from external factors such as natural disasters or vandalism. A business owners policy (BOP) or commercial property insurance will help secure your business and cover the repair or replacement costs of property damage from covered perils. These perils can be floods, lightning, fire, or vandalism.
Customer Injury & Property Damage
When you’re working with a client, there’s always a chance they could be injured on your business premises. Even if it’s your fault or error that led to the injury, an error and omissions policy would not cover you. In such situations, general liability insurance is applicable. It covers a client’s injury or property damage while you’re working with them.
Accidents Involving Business Vehicle
It’s always possible you could get into an accident while commuting to work. Whether the driving error is yours or another driver’s, E&O insurance isn’t helpful here. Opting for commercial auto insurance is your best bet. It helps cover liability expenses when your business vehicle is involved in an accident. If you rent a vehicle or if you utilize your employee’s vehicle for business purposes, you need to consider non-owner car insurance.
Tips To Limit Professional Error and Omissions
Even if E&O insurance provides you with sufficient backup against lawsuits, there are ways to avoid them. Risk management is an important pursuit that is necessary for any agent or insurance agency to excel in their business. While having sufficient coverage in place, you can take steps to help reduce the risk of any future lawsuits. Here are some tips you can take as an insurance agent.
Know Your Field of Expertise
One of the best ways to limit your professional liability risk is by staying within your area of expertise. Don’t be tempted to take on insurance-related opportunities outside this area even if it’s for a friend or client. It’s too easy to make mistakes when you attempt to work in an insurance category you aren’t really familiar with.
Keep a Good Record of Information
Your records are your best defense against lawsuits. After your meeting with a client, send them an email that highlights vital points from the discussion to keep things clear for everyone involved. Make sure that you have electronic copies of all relevant documents including forms approved by both parties.
It’s also a good idea to back up those digital files more than once. And send copies to the client to make sure everyone is well informed and on the same page.
Be Transparent About Your Services
Most clients will want to have an agreement in place before buying a policy. A written document or other formal means of precisely explaining what services you’ll provide, and which ones you won’t, can help prevent any misunderstandings that might arise somewhere down the road. Review insurance documents with your client so each party has clear expectations about their role during these initial stages.
Maintaining professionalism throughout all interactions helps ensure success from the beginning. Therefore, it’s important to disclose any defects in insurance coverage with official forms. So long as you don’t commit any intentional misrepresentations, E&O Insurance will cover the claim— but only if you’re careful about what gets reported and when.
Always Give the Right Information
When clients are looking to buy or renew their insurance, they want someone who is knowledgeable and helpful. Agents that provide them with information in an easy-to-understand way that proves to be accurate will be appreciated and will foster in their clients a sense of trust. Under those circumstances, the chances of the agent being sued are greatly reduced.
While giving advice its always best to stick to what you already know about with certainty. If, during a meeting, you’re unsure about the correct answer to a question, just double-check before giving them an answer. It’s much better to say you don’t know or you aren’t sure than to give bad information.
Work With Professionals
Don’t work with people who aren’t experts in their field. Especially when you’re working with other agencies or are gathering information relevant to the policy you’re selling. Try to limit your business interactions to people whose expertise can be proven. For example, real estate agents and firm owners are just one group of professionals that interact during the process for selling properties—appraisers, inspectors, lawyers, contractors, and more also come into play. So, it’s important they know what they’re doing as well.
It’s also important to make sure that everyone on your staff has current licenses before any legal disputes arise with clients who may accuse your agency of incompetence.
Hire A Good Lawyer
Avoiding a financial disaster can be as easy as consulting an experienced lawyer. Lawyers have seen your peers make minor mistakes that led to big problems. The ones who have handled similar cases in the past can advise you with clear ways of securing records against potential future lawsuits.
Also, the more you talk to your attorney, the better they will be at representing you in a professional liability case. Remember that any communication between attorneys and clients is privileged. This means they have an ethical obligation to not reveal confidential information. So don’t hold back on any relevant details.
Working as a professional insurance agent can be difficult. Especially if clients are unsatisfied with your service and end up suing you. With liability comes the need for expertise and skill, which means there’s always an increased chance that things will go wrong when you’re not careful enough with your skill set. The risk is even higher if you’re not knowledgeable about certain legal matters relevant to E&O insurance.
Even if you’re extra careful, the possibility of errors and mistakes are always there in the insurance industry. And that’s where you as an insurance agent can rely on an E&O insurance.
We hope this insurance blog answered your questions regarding E&O insurance. Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.
What Is an Error and Omission Clause?
Error and omissions clause is a provision that states if an insurer fails to provide or has oversight in the services that they provide, the client or receiver of said services have or will get insurance protecting them against any liability. This coverage will last until the term of the contract or until a specified date to cover any loss or damages due to services unrendered.
Basically, an E&O clause is a contractual obligation to safeguard and maintain professional errors committed by a service provider. It is always appropriate to add an errors and omissions clause for any dealings with other businesses or clients.
Are E&O Insurance and Professional Liability Insurance Different?
Professional liability insurance protects you and your business against lawsuits originating from a mistake in your services. And E&O insurance is another name for professional liability policy. These terms are interchangeable and generally there is not difference between them in terms of the coverage they provide.
Professional liability insurance is generally suitable for businesses and professionals such as:
- Business consultants
- Insurance agents
- Medical providers
- General contractors
- Financial services
February 9th, 2023 · 7 mins read
- What is E&O Insurance for Insurance Agents?
- Which Insurance Professionals Is Benefit From E&O Insurance?
- Is E&O Insurance Necessary for Insurance Agents?
- What Does E&O Insurance for Agents Cover?
- What Does E&O Insurance for Insurance Agents Not Cover?
- Tips To Limit Professional Error and Omissions
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E&O Insurance: Everything You Need To Know And More
Learn all you need to know about E&O insurance, its uses, how to make a claim and also tips for dealing with a lawsuit from a reliable agent.
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