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Professional Liability Insurance Basics

Professional Liability Insurance...what is that and who needs it? If we changed the name to 'malpractice insurance' most of us would answer the question right away by responding 'doctors'. But the fact is 'malpractice' is a concern for professionals across many fields of endeavor.

The first thing that is important to understand is that, in the context of legal liability, 'professional' has a broad definition. Basically, anyone who is expected to have in-depth knowledge or training in their field can be the subject of professional liability. Besides doctors, professions in the medical field with malpractice exposure include nurses, rehabilitation therapists and pharmacists, to name a few. Engineers and architects also can become targets for lawsuits alleging failure to perform to standards expected of their profession. When it comes to professional liability, teachers and athletic trainers are considered professionals every bit as much as lawyers and accountants.

The second thing to understand about professional liability is that if you do not have a specialty insurance policy covering the pursuits of your profession, you almost certainly do not have insurance protection for those professional pursuits. General liability policies for business (Commercial General Liablity or CGL) and liability protection found in homeowner or automobile coverage do not include protection for professional conduct.

If you have doubts about whether you could be considered a professional and whether you might need protection from professional liability, the best thing to do is to check with your insurance agent who, by the way, is also a professional.

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