Making Sense Of E&O Insurance & EPLI

making sense of E&O insurance &EPLI text overlaying image of a maze that says liability Risk management is the core of commercial insurance. You know you have to protect your business from lawsuits, like if an employee is injured on company property, as well as from disasters such as fire or theft. However, not all damages are physical and not all claims are made by third parties. There are times when you will need errors and omissions (E&O) insurance or employee practices liability (EPLI) coverage. So, let’s examine what these policies cover and where they differ.

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E&O Insurance

It’s easy to imagine a construction site requiring liability insurance in the event of an injury, or a supermarket needing a policy to cover a customer who slips and falls in the store. A general commercial liability insurance policy would cover these types of accidents. Product liability insurance would protect against a product’s failure. This is all damage that we typically hear about. However, what about damages that aren’t visible? If your company provides clients with advice or services, you likely need E&O (also known as professional liability). In the past professional liability was for professionals such as doctors or lawyers, whereas E&O was for semi-professionals such as accountants or financial advisors. But now, the terms are used interchangeably. E&O insurance protects you against claims of:

Bad advice

Many clients rely on professionals, such as lawyers and consultants, for sound, practical, and specialized advice. If a client receives advice from a professional and their expectations are not met, the client may sue. A client may file a lawsuit, for instance, if a personal trainer advises their client to do certain workouts or stretches that lead to muscle strains or injuries. Another example, say a hairdresser advises a client to use a certain product for their hair that leaves them with damaged hair or skin problems.


When a professional fails to provide the standard level of care they are negligent. A judge may find a doctor negligent if, for instance, he or she fails to review a patient’s chart before prescribing an allergen-containing medication. If a financial advisor disregards all warnings about a company’s financial health and recommends stocks that ultimately fail, they can be sued for negligence.

Slander or libel

If a professional publicly expresses unfavorable or incorrect opinions about their client, they can be sued for slander. False or derogatory written statements are considered libel. Either scenario can lead to a costly lawsuit.


An omission is the failure to provide important information that could alter a client’s decisions. For instance, if a real estate agent fails to mention that a home is in a flooding zone or has extensive damage from past problems the new homeowner could sue them for not giving them all of the facts.

Mistakes hand coming out of a computer with an error sign

Even the most professional people in the world can make mistakes. If a client is harmed or loses money due to an error made by a professional such as an attorney, doctor, accountant etc. They could file a lawsuit even though the error was not intentional.

Cost of E&O

The cost of E&O is determined by a number of variables, including the type of business, its location, and any prior claims you’ve had to pay out. Due to the increased underwriting risk, E&O insurance may be more expensive or have less than favorable terms for a person or business with a lengthy history of litigation issues. On average, E&O insurance can cost between $500 and $1,000 annually per employee.

What It Doesn’t Cover

E&O policies do not cover criminal prosecution and certain non-listed liabilities that may arise in civil court. This includes illegal acts, deliberate wrongdoing, and criminal activity. Typically E&O insurance does not cover bodily injury caused by your business, as this is covered by general liability insurance. E&O insurance also may or may not cover temporary employee’s claims resulting from work performed prior to the policy’s start date, or claims in different jurisdictions. It may also exclude cyber related information leaks, employee injuries, and discrimination claims.


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All of the above pertains to claims made by clients or customers against your company. However, how do you protect yourself from claims filed by your employees? Employers are protected by EPLI against lawsuits filed by current, former, or even prospective employees. In the same way that you have a duty to keep your customers safe and provide them with the best service, you also have a duty to treat all employees and potential hires fairly. This type of insurance kicks in when allegations are made such as:


  • Sexual harassment
  • Discrimination
  • Wrongful termination
  • Breach of employment contract
  • Negligent evaluation
  • Failure to employ or promote
  • Wrongful disciplinary actions
  • Deprivation of career opportunity
  • Wrongful infliction of emotional distress
  • Mismanagement of employee benefit plans


Keep in mind, however, that this type of insurance will cover owners, managers, and other employees if a claim is made against them, but will not cover anyone who has intentionally acted illegally. 


The cost of EPLI depends on the nature of your business, the number of employees you have, and various risk factors. Such as whether or not your company has been sued in the past for employment practices. The policies will reimburse your business for the costs associated with defending a lawsuit and for any judgements or settlements. Whether your company wins or loses a lawsuit, the policy will cover legal fees. In addition, policies typically exclude coverage for punitive damages and civil or criminal fines. EPLI policies exclude liabilities covered by other insurance policies, such as workers’ compensation.

Preventing Claims

To prevent employee lawsuits, start with educating your managers and employees so that you minimize these problems in the first place. For starters:

  • Develop effective hiring and screening programs to prevent hiring discrimination.
  • Post corporate policies throughout the workplace and include them in employee manuals so that everyone is aware of them.
  • Show employees what to do if they experience sexual harassment or discrimination at the hands of a supervisor.
  • Make sure that supervisors are aware of the company’s stance on unacceptable behaviors.
  • Document everything that occurs and the steps taken to prevent and resolve employee conflicts.

What it Won’t Cover

EPLI would not cover claims resulting from intentionally dishonest or criminal conduct such as theft or intentional property destructions. It also does not cover employee illness or work-related injuries as these are covered with workers’ compensation. In addition to intentional or criminal acts, the following situations are typically not covered by EPLI:


  • Professional errors – If your company makes a professional error you’ll need malpractice or E&O insurance to protect these situations.
  • Unemployment insurance – Most states have a government agency dedicated to handling unemployment benefits claims, EPLI will not cover these.
  • Unpaid wages – Typically, failing to pay wages for owed or completed work will not be covered by EPLI policies.
  • Fines and penalties – EPLI will not cover civil or criminal fines.

Limited EPLI Coverage

In addition, you may find that your EPLI policy provides limited coverage or none at all for certain types of employment practice claims. Below we’ve listed the examples of these situations where coverage is typically limited.


  • Breach of written employment contract – If any employee alleges that you violated your employment contract, whether the agreement was written or implied (EX: made in conversation) can be important. While most EPLI policies will cover the cost of claims related to implied contacts, written contracts may be handled differently by some policies. Some EPLI policies may cover written contract claims whereas many others will only cover legal defense costs or nothing for them.
  • Wage and hourly claims – When an employee claims that their employer did not pay them in a timely manner. Since a number of costly and high-profile overtime pay claims have been filed in recent years, most EPLI policies will exclude or specify sub limits for wage and hourly claims because the risk exposure is too great. 
  • Immigration violations – The majority of insurers do not offer EPLI coverage for federal, state, or local immigration-related violations (such as failing to check an employee’s immigration status). If so, it is typically a limited edition (or “endorsement”) to your EPLI policy.

Working With EZ

The world of commercial insurance can be extremely confusing, as it’s filled with a variety of policies that cover a variety of individuals and situations, as well as acronyms for a majority of policies. It’s important to evaluate your needs and get the best protection available. Remember that general commercial liability insurance does not cover everyone and everything, and you may need to supplement your policy with E&O and EPLI coverage.

If you need help making sense of the business insurance alphabet soup, we’re here to help! You will be assigned a personal agent by EZ.Insure, and you will never receive unwanted persistent phone calls. Our agents are highly trained and knowledgeable and will ensure you receive the exact coverage you need. Not to mention, we do all of this for free! To get your free instant quotes enter your zip code into the bar below. Or give one of our agents a call directly at 877-670-3538.

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Commercial Insurance for Startups

You’re not starting any ordinary small business. You’re building a startup. Your goal is to grow and, in order to do this, you not only need a solid business plan, but also protection for everything that you’re building. Startups are inherently risky, so it is extremely important that you get the right commercial insurance coverage. 

Insurance for the First Stages

cartoon rocket ship that is red and white going up in front of a laptop.
Startups are all about investment, and you need to think of commercial insurance as another investment to grow your business.

If you’re in the first, or seed, stage of building your startup you are probably excited – and nervous about everything that’s to come. Maybe you’re not thinking about insurance, or think that it’s something that can wait until you’re further along in the process. Nothing could be further from the truth. 

Startups are all about investment, and you need to think of commercial insurance as another investment to grow your business. Without it, you won’t be able to attract the best employees or convince investors that you are serious about your venture and are planning ahead for the long run. Even before you have customers, you should have the following policies:

  • General Liability – something that all businesses should have, this type of insurance protects you against lawsuits claiming bodily injury or property damage. But did you know it also provides coverage for personal and advertising injury like libel or slander?
  • Commercial Property – if you’ve got office space, then you need this type of policy to protect everything in it from risks such as fire or theft. There are commercial insurance packages available that will bundle liability and property coverage. 
  • Workers Comp – if your startup has or plans on having employees, be aware that this type of coverage is required by individual states. It covers medical expenses and lost wages for an employee who is injured at work. 

Tech E&O vs Cyber Liability

Once you’re past that first stage of getting your initial funding, setting up your space, and hiring your employees, it’s time to start thinking about what happens once you are up and running. Now you have customers, and a whole new set of risks.

The above type of insurance policies apply to all businesses, but you may need some specialized coverage for your startup. If you’re dealing with any kind of tech, as many startups do, there are two types of policies you should look into: tech errors & omissions (E&O) and cyber liability insurance. They may sound similar, but they cover different things.

  • Tech E&O – If you’re a business selling a physical product, then you need product liability in case a product fails. If you’re a firm offering financial or legal advice, then you need errors & omissions to protect yourself against claims of financial damage. If you’re a tech startup, then you need tech E&O. This type of coverage protects your company in the event that one of your tech-based products fails. If you are developing or licensing software, it is important to note that the insurance industry considers software a service and not a product. Because of this, you will need tech E&O, and not the same type of product liability coverage that might be sufficient for other businesses. cartoon of a man in all black hanging from a wire about to touch a laptop with the scree that says "password" on it.
  • Cyber LiabilityThere is one very important thing that that tech E&O doesn’t cover: third-party data breaches. With all the risks of cyber crime today, this type of insurance is essential if you store any kind of customer data. 

While tech E&O covers the failure of software, cyber liability covers the loss of private third-party information. Depending on your startup, you may need both to be fully covered.

As You Grow

If your startup is taking off, congratulations! You’re growing, and are probably looking for more investment and taking on a board of directors. In this case, you’ll need another specialized type of coverage: Directors & Officers insurance.

This type of insurance covers both your business and your management, including their personal assets. It covers:

  • Theft of trade secrets
  • Misrepresentation, in the case that investors feel they were given
    red sign with the words "wrong way" on it in white.
    Directors & Officers Insurance protects you in the case of misrepresentation.

    misleading information, leading to loss

  • Wrongful acts, covering anything that managers do in their professional capacity that stakeholders deem  “wrongful,” and that results in a loss

Having D&O is important for attracting investors, who will feel more confident placing their trust (and money!) with you if you have comprehensive coverage. Your board members/managers will also feel confident making decisions without risk of personal liability.

Startups are unique among small businesses.They’re riskier, but they have more potential for growth. If you’re one of the few who have the vision and the drive, make sure that you protect everything you’re building. And remember, EZ.Insure is here to help you sort out your commercial insurance needs. We’re unique, too! We want your startup to succeed and will work with you to keep you covered. Our services are always free and nobody will ever hound you with endless calls. You have enough to worry about! To get started simply enter your zip code in the bar above, or you can speak to an agent by calling 888-615-4893