Claims-Made vs. Occurrence Policies

Claims-Made vs. Occurrence Policies text overlaying image of two different color buttons When it comes to buying insurance for your business, not knowing the difference between claims-made and occurrence plans can be an expensive error. Getting a claims-made or occurrence policy will have a significant impact not just on the cost of your coverage. But also, on the lifecycle of your coverage. Professional liability and directors and officers policies are often claims-made policies, whereas most general liability policies are occurrence policies. Let’s take a closer look at what these two terms mean for you and the coverage you’re buying.

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Occurrence Policy

An occurrence policy will cover claims for acts or incidents that occurred while your coverage was active. Even if your insurance expired or you canceled it, if the event occurred during the policy period, the claim would be covered. Because of the length of coverage, these policies can be more expensive than claims-made policies.

Claims-Made Policy

A claims-made insurance only provides coverage if you file a claim within the policy period. Your insurer will provide coverage if an insurable event occurred after the policy’s retroactive date. A claims-made policy covers claims made while your insurance is still in effect. You will be uninsured if you terminate your policy or if you fail to pay your premiums and the insurer cancels it. D&O insurance is a common type of claims-made coverage, as is professional liability insurance, commonly known as E&O or malpractice insurance.


Medical malpractice insurance, for example, is frequently offered as a claims-made policy due to the high related expenses. But it may have lower average premiums than if offered as an occurrence-based policy. You have the option to purchase an extension for “tail coverage.” This is an addition to a claims-made policy that will expand your contract to include incidents that took place while your policy was active, even if the claims are submitted after your policy has expired. It should be noted, however, that this add-on only covers a limited time. Usually up to 3-5 years after the insurance expires.

Retroactive Date

Our policy covers incidents that occur on or after a specific date. Assume you have professional liability insurance on a claims-made basis. Your coverage begins in January 2021 and is retroactive to November 2019. If a client sues you in February 2021 for an incident that occurred in December 2019. Your insurer may be able to assist in covering the claim because it occurred after your retroactive date and the claim was reported during your policy period.

Extended Reporting Period

This helps to cover claims filed after your coverage has expired for a defined period of time. It usually lasts between 30 and 60 days. So, if your insurance expires in December 2021 and you have a 60-day extended reporting period. Your insurer may be able to assist you in covering claims made during this time period. This is also referred to as tail coverage.


When it comes time to buy your insurance coverage, you must decide on an aggregate limit. An aggregate limit is the highest amount of coverage that an insurer is willing to pay for the total amount of compensated losses during the policy period. In essence, you should consider how much coverage you wish to have.

Occurrence Limits

Policy limits apply only to situations that fall within the designated policy term. Only claims generated by events occurring during the policy term and eventually paid will count towards the available policy limits. It is important to remember that defense costs are normally covered outside of the policy limitations and have no bearing on the amount of insurance offered. Occurrence insurance limits, on the other hand, will be reset every year upon renewal.


As a result, if your limit is $1 million and $500,000 in claims were paid during the previous policy year, your renewal limit will be $1 million as well. However, you would still have $500,000 remaining on the last policy year for any later claims. As a result, you may have policy limits available for future use to insure previously unknown claims.

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Claims-Made Limits

The essential factor in calculating claims-made limits is whether or not the policy covers earlier acts. Furthermore, unlike an occurrence policy, these insurance contracts usually include defense costs up to the set limit. As a result, as policies renew, the policy limit might be extended to cover longer periods of time than the standard 12 months. And defense costs will reduce the available insurance. As a result, if you buy a $1 million claims-made policy and pay $500,000 in claims that year, any future claims reported after the expiration date should be covered by the subsequent renewal via a Full Prior Acts Endorsement or a Retroactive Date Endorsement.


As a result, your renewal policy limit would cover both the prior policy’s past unknown claims as well as any events that occur during the current year. In this regard, your current claims-made insurance protects you for a period of more than a year. Unlike an event policy, the expired policy does not provide any residual limits to cover you from prior incidents. You must use your current policy limit to cover any unknown historical claims. However, if you obtained “tail coverage” under your expired insurance, your past claims would be addressed while your current policy limit would be unaffected.


Claims-made plans often establish premiums for the following policy year’s claims, however an occurrence contract will price for both current and future year claims. As a result, you should examine the premium dynamics listed below:

Step Rates

In the case of claims-made, both the event and the reported claim must occur during the coverage period. This indicates that the risk of loss in the first year of the policy is relatively low, and so the first-year premiums for claims-made coverage are often lower. As you renew your insurance policy, the period of coverage is extended through a Full Prior Acts or Retroactive Date endorsement, exposing the insurance company to extra risk. Because prior actions are included, premiums will change incrementally over the first four years of a claims-made policy, which is known as the claims-made step factor.

Mature Rates

By the fifth year of claims-made coverage, the risk of loss should have leveled out, indicating that the claims-made step factor has matured. Mature claims-made rates and regular occurrence coverage rates end up costing around the same.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Even when you understand the benefits and drawbacks of claims-made and occurrence plans. It’s difficult to prove that one is superior to the other. The truth is that the only way to decide which type to purchase is to determine which one best meets the needs of your company.


One of the primary benefits of occurrence plans is that they need less work to own and manage them. This implies that if you change insurance companies, you won’t have to worry about being covered for incidents that occurred while you were insured by someone else.


If you transfer insurers or cancel your insurance, claims-made policies become a little more difficult. If you do decide to transfer carriers you must get a Retroactive Date or a Prior Acts Endorsement. As well as maybe “tail coverage” to protect yourself. On the other hand, if you do nothing, any past claims that arise will be lost, and you will be uninsured.


Occurrence plans also provide better peace of mind because the limit is only imposed for a 12-month period. On the other hand, because it may apply to many years of risk, your claims made limit may be exhausted sooner.


As we’ve noted above, claims-made policies are cheaper than occurrence policies. This is because occurrence policies still cover claims even after the insurer has stopped receiving premiums. So, the more expensive premiums help make up for the money an insurer may have to pay out for a future claim. With claims-made policies, you’re actively paying premiums when the insurer is taking on the risk.  So, it costs them less and in turn costs you less.

Working With EZ

We understand that there is a lot to learn while shopping for commercial insurance. However, the effort spent studying is worthwhile. Getting the correct type of insurance for your business can make the difference between safeguarding it and losing everything you’ve worked for. Keep in mind that you don’t have to go it alone – EZ.Insure is here to assist you. Throughout the shopping experience, we focus on each customer individually and provide a helpful environment. To get a quote enter your zip code in the bad below. We want to assist you in making the best decision and saving the most money. There is no bother, no obligation to purchase, and no more worries. Best of all, everything is absolutely free. Call one of our agents immediately at 877-670-3538 to get started.

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What Is An Umbrella Liability Policy?

If you’re a small business owner, there are probably a lot of things that worry you. One of them might be the amount of liability insurance you should have. Since facing a major lawsuit could mean losing everything you’ve worked for. This, of course, is the worst-case scenario. Since the likelihood of being hit with a lawsuit that your current insurance policy won’t cover is fairly low. But, even so, it’s better safe than sorry – and this situation is entirely avoidable with an umbrella liability policy.

Umbrella insurance is a supplemental form of liability insurance that kicks in when you exhaust your primary policy’s liability limits. In the following, we’ll examine the specifics of this type of liability insurance. Including what it is, who needs it, how much it costs, and what it doesn’t cover.

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How Does an Umbrella Liability Policy Work?

If you choose to purchase an umbrella liability policy for your business, you will actually be getting two different types of coverage: liability and defense. Even though you might already have a general and/or professional liability policy for your company. Umbrella policies provide additional coverage that extends beyond the boundaries of your primary insurance.

So, if your business faces a lawsuit and you are liable for damages that are greater than the limits of your commercial insurance policy, an umbrella policy will help you to pay the remaining amount. That means you won’t have to sell any of your assets. Or use any of your savings to pay the additional expenses out-of-pocket. 

It’s important to note that since umbrella policies are supplemental coverage. You can’t purchase one of these policies without first having primary liability insurance.

What Does an Umbrella Liability Policy Cover?

Commercial umbrella liability policies work pretty much the same as traditional commercial liability policies. It also provides protection against the same types of risks. To be more specific, an umbrella insurance policy will give you supplemental coverage for the following:


  • Slip and fall injuries – If you have general liability insurance and also purchase commercial umbrella insurance. Your supplemental policy will cover any excess legal costs in the event that a third party sustains an injury on your company’s property.
  • Third party property damage – The addition of commercial umbrella insurance to a general liability policy will help to pay legal fees associated with the destruction or damage of third-party properties.
  • Car accidents – If you have a commercial auto insurance policy or a policy that covers hired and non-owned vehicles. Adding commercial umbrella insurance to those policies can help cover costs in the event that someone sues you for damages caused by one of your vehicles.
  • Employee injury lawsuits – Having an umbrella policy on top of employers liability insurance (which is typically included in workers’ compensation insurance) will help pay for employee lawsuits brought on by work-related injuries caused by employer negligence.

What Isn’t Covered?

Although umbrella insurance can increase the liability limits of several other policies. It does not offer the complete safety net that a small business may require. 

Umbrella policies do not cover the following:


  • Damages within the primary policy’s limits – Umbrella liability insurance does not kick in until the limits of the primary policy have been exhausted. As with any insurance, it only covers things up to the policy’s maximum.
  • Business property damage – Damage to your company’s property due to things like fire, theft, or certain types of weather can be covered by the commercial property insurance included in a business owner’s policy (BOP) or commercial package policy (CPP). Umbrella policies are extensions of existing liability insurance and you cannot buy them separately for property.
  • Professional errors – Malpractice insurance, also known as errors and omissions insurance (E&O) or professional liability insurance, protects professionals from legal action stemming from their own negligence or those of their clients. Excess liability insurance, also known as excess E&O insurance, is very similar to umbrella insurance. You can use it to increase the limits of this type of policy. But umbrella liability insurance will not cover this type of negligence.
  • Employee theft – If you want to protect your company financially from employee theft or fraud against customers or clients. You’ll need commercial crime insurance, also known as a fidelity bond.

Who Needs an Umbrella Liability Policy?

In general, the more face-to-face interaction your business has with your clients and customers, the greater your liability risks. In addition, if your employees are using dangerous equipment or heavy machinery, your business faces even more risks. 

If the above is true for you, and you believe that the cost of a claim could exceed your liability limits, purchasing commercial umbrella insurance is something you should seriously consider doing. This coverage may be of useful for your business if:


  • You’re a general contractor and your client needs more coverage – Umbrella insurance is a stopgap measure for contracts worth more than $2 million. If you’re a general contractor, and your existing general liability policy has a $2 million per-occurrence limit, but your client contract requires a $5 million per-occurrence limit. You would add an umbrella policy with a $3 million per-occurrence limit.
  • You’re in contact with the public – The possibility of a customer sustaining a physical injury is increased when your establishment is open to the public. For instance, during business hours, wholesalers frequently use various pieces of machinery to restock the shelves of their warehouses. When using this kind of machinery in the presence of customers, there is a risk of injury. If someone gets hurt while on your property, you could be liable for expensive medical bills and lawsuits that exceed the limits of your general liability insurance. 
  • You do work off site – Working away from the physical location of your company can also increase the liability risk it faces. For instance, if your employees are performing work at the residence of one of your customers, there is an increased possibility of property damage. 


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The Cost of Umbrella Liability Policies

The range of umbrella insurance policies available is very broad, with a significant gap between the lowest and highest limits of coverage. This makes sense, since no two businesses share the same set of risks. There are businesses that choose to purchase $1 million in supplemental coverage, and businesses that might even choose to purchase $100 million or more in coverage. The amount of coverage you choose, as well as other factors related to the type of business you run, the amount of employees you have, and your annual revenue, will determine how much an umbrella policy will cost you.

With that being said, prices can vary widely even between seemingly identical businesses. And keep in mind that without knowing your business, we can’t give you exact quotes, so speak to an EZ agent to find out what you can expect to pay. But to give an example, let’s say your small business is looking for $1 million in coverage. With a $1 million policy, the highest premium costs average around $208 a month, or $2,500 for the year. Generally businesses with higher risks pay the most in premiums; this typically includes doctors, lawyers, and construction companies. On the opposite end of the spectrum, for less risky businesses such as cleaning services, you would pay around $33 a month. Or $400 for the year.

How Much Coverage Do I Need?

If you have a business that is contracted out by clients, and you have a contract with a client that requires a liability limit higher than $2 million, you will typically purchase an umbrella policy to meet that limit. It’s not unusual to see contracts worth $5 million or more. In that case, you buy a $3 million umbrella policy in addition to a $2 million primary policy. Otherwise, the amount of coverage you choose should be tailored to the specifics of your business and its industry.

Keep these three things in mind as you browse umbrella insurance quotes:


  • Your coverage should match your assets – To have enough coverage, your coverage needs to match your assets. So, if your entire company’s net worth is $1 million, that’s how much coverage you need.
  • Umbrella liability starts at a minimum of $1 million – You cannot purchase an umbrella liability policy with a coverage limit of less than this amount.
  • Umbrella liability coverage comes in increments of $1 million – You can only increase your liability coverage in increments of $1 million, allowing you to acquire precisely the amount of protection you need.

The Difference Between Umbrella Liability and Excess Liability

There is a common misunderstanding that commercial umbrella insurance and excess liability insurance are the same thing. You can purchase excess liability insurance to supplement either – and only – your existing general liability insurance or errors and omissions insurance (E&O) policy. Your supplemental plan will only provide extra coverage to the specific plan you purchase it for. For example, if you buy excess liability for your general liability policy. It will only provide extra coverage for your general liability claims. But if you purchase an umbrella policy, you will have extra coverage for all of your other liability policies in one supplemental policy.

Working With EZ

Get in touch with an EZ agent if you want to compare commercial insurance policies and prices quickly and easily. If you need assistance making sure your business has enough coverage our agents are available to assist you at no cost. We’ll take a look at your long-term financial plans and insurance requirements, then recommend the best policies for you. Enter your zip code in the box below to get a free instant quote. Or give us a call at 877-670-3538 to speak with a live agent.

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EZ Can Help You Avoid Falling Into These Liability Traps

Owning your own business can be a liability landmine. Just one mistake can mean the end of the business that you’ve invested so much time and money in. The biggest mistake you can make is not having the right commercial insurance coverage. EZ knows you worked hard to start your business, and we want to help you keep it going strong. We can guide you through some of the common mistakes business owners make, and the ways we can keep you protected against them. 

laptop with a red warning sign on the middle of the screen.
A cyber attack can leave you feeling violated, scared, and confused, and it can also ruin your reputation.

Not Protecting Your Business Online

So much of our business is conducted online these days, and not having  cyber liability insurance is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. Not only are there a lot of scammers out there working hard to get your financial information, but anyone with access to your company’s accounts – including employees – can steal information and create data breaches. A cyber attack can leave you feeling violated, scared, and confused, and it can also ruin your reputation. If customers’ data is breached, then you will lose their trust, their business, and any future business. 

Malware is one of the biggest threats when it comes to cyber security. In 2018, malware cost companies upwards of $2 million, which was an increase of over 10% from the previous year. To keep your business protected from this threat, EZ.Insure offers cyber liability policies that cover:

  • Lost or damaged electronic data
  • Computer operations interruption
  • Privacy & Notification to customers and other affected parties
  • Lawsuits (in certain types of policy)

Not Protecting Your Workplace illustration of a house that is burning.

Another major mistake business owners make is not taking into account all of the things that can go wrong at their place of business. Accidents and natural disasters happen. Customers or employees can get hurt at your business, meaning you could end up being sued. A storm could come along and rip through your building. If you are not insured against all likelihoods, not only could you lose your business, but you could go bankrupt, as well. 

We’re a business, too, and we get how scary the thought of losing everything can be. That’s why we’ll compare quotes for you on the most important types of commercial liability insurance, like: 

  • General Liability – protects you against lawsuits claiming bodily injury or property damage. It also provides coverage for personal and advertising injury like libel or slander.
  • Property Liability – protects everything in your business from risks such as fire or theft. There are commercial insurance packages available that will bundle liability and property coverage. 
  • Workers Comp – covers medical expenses and lost wages for an employee who is injured at work. This type of coverage is required by individual states.

Not Delivering on Your Promisescontract paper with two hands, one signing it and the other underneath it.

Finally, don’t make the mistake of assuming every customer is going to be satisfied with you and your business. Sometimes you try to offer the best possible service or advice to your customers, but you just fail to deliver. If you break a contract, give advice that leads to loss, or don’t complete a project, for example, then you could end up facing a lawsuit. To protect yourself and your business from these types of claims, you need to have professional liability insurance.

Whether you are starting up a business, or already have one and are looking into commercial insurance, then EZ’s got you covered. We will compare quotes of all the types of insurance policies that your business needs, and will help you choose the best ones for you. Let us help you protect the business that you worked so hard to build. To get free commercial insurance quotes, enter your zip code in the bar above or to speak to an agent call 888-615-4893.