While some employers have liability coverage that extends to their employees in the event of litigation, all members of professional associations, regardless of their employment status, may be subject to litigation related to their practice. It is a reality of today's working life.
Commercial General Liability (CGL) insurance
CGL insurance covers bodily injury or property damage to a third party through an individual’s negligence – it covers the actual operations of the business as opposed to the professional aspect of offering a professional opinion, inspection, certification, design and so on.
A CGL policy protects the insured from payments for bodily injury or property damage to a third party, for medical expenses accruing to the underlying incident, for the cost of defending lawsuits including investigations and settlements, and for any bonds or judgments required during an appeal procedure. It also provides coverage for an individual’s products and completed operations.
A common misconception about the purchase of CGL insurance is that: "I don't need this insurance because no one comes to my office." The reality is that an individual's liability follows them and their employees when they go off site.
For example, the actions of an employee at a job site might result in bodily injury or property damage to a third party, putting their employer's company at risk for lawsuits. These types of third party liabilities are not covered by an Errors and Omissions policy - see below - as these incidents are not the direct result of the delivery of an individual’s professional services.
Professional Liability, or Errors and Omissions (E&O) Insurance
E&O insurance protects the professional in today's increasingly litigious world. Individuals can be the subject of allegations by unhappy clients and other parties who feel that they have been harmed by the professional's actions or failure to act. Even when such claims are frivolous, the cost to defend these claims can devastate an uninsured or underinsured professional.
All CGL policies cover employees, as do almost all E&O policies. However, employees should check with their employers to make sure they are covered under the E&O policy, even although it would be unusual for an employee working in a professional capacity not to be covered.
Individuals in private practice are at greater risk of finding themselves faced with a lawsuit and, while not mandatory, members who work in private practice are strongly urged to investigate coverage. Each association for Technology Professionals offers proven yet inexpensive insurance solutions for its members.
Details of liability insurance options available to members can be found on each association's web site.