Professional Liability Insurance for Lawyers: Cost & Coverage

Thang Truong
Thang Truong
Updated on:

Lawyers face more professional risk than people in any other profession except for healthcare. A simple misinterpretation of the law, piece of bad advice or unfavorable legal decision could result in a client lawsuit. 

Even if your legal practice is diligent, detail oriented and gets everything right, it could still be the victim of a frivolous lawsuit that could end up costing it a significant amount.

That’s were professional liability insurance for lawyers and law firms comes in. 

It’s a type of coverage that protects lawyers and law firms against claims that legal services provided caused a client to suffer financial harm due to mistakes made or because someone failed to perform adequate legal service. A policy will cover both legal expenses related to a client lawsuit and the financial judgments that come out of them.

We include all the information you need to find and purchase the right coverage for you. We also checked out leading providers of professional liability insurance for lawyers to come up with the top five for various reasons. We also got sample quotes from a number of them. 

What is professional liability insurance for lawyers?

Professional liability insurance for people in the legal profession is also referred to as errors and omissions (E&O), lawyers professional liability and legal malpractice insurance. Considering all the perils faced every day by people who do legal work, it’s one of the most important coverages a lawyer or law firm can purchase.

Professional liability is a type of coverage that protects lawyers and law firms against claims that legal services provided caused a client to suffer financial harm due to mistakes made (errors) or because someone failed to provide adequate service (omissions).

Legal malpractice claims occur when a lawyer or someone working at a law firm is alleged to have not performed their duties according to the normal standards of professional and ethical conduct. Even if a breach of standards has not actually occurred, some clients may view a legal result that’s not in their favor as enough of a reason to file a malpractice suit against their lawyer or law firm. The truth is that even the most careful, diligent and by-the-book law firms are subject to costly claims.

Lawyers and law firms are at risk for being sued for many things including misinterpreting the law, offering bad advice, missed deadlines, conflicts of interest and more.

Given how common legal malpractice lawsuits have become, having the right legal malpractice insurance coverage is critical for lawyers and law firms.

What does professional liability insurance for lawyers cover?

Errors and omissions insurance covers the cost of defending a lawyer or legal practice in a civil lawsuit and certain damages that are awarded, even if the lawsuit ends up being groundless. 

Common claims that legal professional liability insurance covers are negligence, misrepresentation, violation of good faith and fair dealing and inaccurate advice. Some policies could also cover privacy violations.

Professional liability insurance is required by law in some areas for lawyers. Your state bar association, insurance agent or a representative at your business insurer can let you know for sure if you need to get coverage.

Legal professional liability protection is not part of your general liability or commercial property insurance. General liability covers costs associated with injuries that happen to clients, visitors and passers-by on your business property. Commercial property insurance covers property damage that occurs while doing business.  

What does professional liability insurance for lawyers not cover?

Professional liability for lawyers coverage does not include costs related to criminal prosecution, along with a wide range of liabilities under civil laws that may not be covered unless specifically written into the policy. Because of the complex nature of this coverage, it’s important that you work with an experienced legal insurance professional to ensure you get the coverage you need to address the specific risks you or your practice face.

If a law firm has professional liability insurance, does it also need management liability insurance?

It’s possible, especially for larger law firms. Management liability insurance, also known as directors and officers (D&O) coverage, helps protect partners from financially devastating lawsuits against them or their firms. A professional with experience in legal insurance coverage can advise you on whether your firm needs this coverage. 

>>MORE: Best D&O Insurance Companies

How much does professional liability insurance for lawyers cost?

The price of legal professional liability coverage varies more than almost any other type of business insurance, except for similar coverage for medical professionals. It’s dependent on many factors, including the following:

  • Size of your law firm: larger law firms have higher rates
  • Prior claims: a claims history can mean more expensive policies
  • Coverage amount: this factor most directly affects premiums, since more coverage is more expensive to carry
  • Deductible: higher deductibles mean lower premiums, since you’re paying a higher amount for coverage to take effect
  • Length of time with a firm: premiums tend to increase the first few years a lawyer is at a firm because the lawyer amasses more cases and thus more risk – however, premiums tend to even out around the sixth year
  • Location: denser populations can increase risk of claims and boost premiums
  • Type of practice: some practice types naturally have higher risks attached to them because of their complexity, like securities or medical malpractice, which can increase premiums
  • Risk management: in some cases, you could have lower premiums if you demonstrate that you have a risk management policy in place

On average, a new attorney in a low-risk practice pays $300-$500 annually for a professional liability insurance policy. They should expect the annual premiums to increase steadily in the first 5-7 years and will reach around $1,200 to $2,500.

On the other hand, attorneys in high-risk practice can pay up $3,000 to $10,000 a year for a professional liability insurance policy.

The best way to ensure you’re paying a fair price for your professional liability coverage is to get quotes from multiple providers or a digital broker like CoverWallet. That way, you can compare coverages and costs to find the best combination for you. 

How to find cheap professional liability insurance for lawyers

While this is a coverage you don’t want to skimp on, here are some tips to help you find the coverage you need at a fair price:

  • Shop around for the best value. Get quotes from a few companies or compare the multiple quotes generated by a service like CoverWallet. 
  • Don’t stop shopping around. Make sure you get new quotes before you renew your policy.
  • Take advantage of discounts. If they’re not offered to you when getting a quote, ask about them, whether you’re buying online or through an agent.

Taking these steps will help ensure you’re not paying too much for your professional liability and other business coverage.

5 Best professional liability insurance plans for lawyers 

We researched more than 20 insurers that offer professional liability coverage for lawyers. Here are our recommendations of the 5 best providers for different reasons. 

  • CoverWallet: Best for lawyers who need professional liability coverage fast
  • Attorneys Advantage: Best for smaller legal practices
  • Embroker: Best for overall online experience
  • CNA: Best for law firms who value state and regional bar endorsements
  • Travelers: Best for law firms that want coverage from an industry leader

CoverWallet: Best for lawyers who need professional liability coverage fast

Need proof of insurance before you can practice law? CoverWallet can get you a certificate of insurance (COI) delivered right to your inbox any time. On top of that, you’ll be able to compare quotes from several providers within minutes all on one screen.

How is CoverWallet able to do this? 

CoverWallet is a cutting-edge insurance provider. The firm has developed its own state-of-the-art platform, based on its own algorithms, to ensure it is able to connect lawyers, law firms, and other small businesses with all the business insurance they need, including professional liability coverage, at a fair price. 

The firm’s experts have used their extensive experience to make sure you only have to input the information needed to generate quick and accurate quotes. The entire process should take less than ten minutes.

You can feel confident knowing that CoverWallet is a part of Aon, an established company that provides advice to businesses on things like risk, health and retirement.

CoverWallet offers two levels of protection for attorneys and law firms, a basic level of coverage focused on professional liability and a broader plan that covers additional risks.

Once you get your quote, CoverWallet makes it easy to purchase a general liability policy or complete business insurance package online or through an agent. When you get your general liability policy through CoverWallet, it’s simple to manage your coverage online, including downloading a certificate of insurance, filing a claim, renewing your policy, and more. 

The Attorneys Advantage Professional Liability Insurance Program is another affiliate of AON. It specializes in providing law firms with between one and 25 attorneys with affordable professional liability insurance protection.  

Whether you and your firm face standard risks or non-standard ones because of your areas of specialization or past claim history, Attorneys Advantage is usually able to quote and cover your business.

The firm has built a proprietary online platform that is able to generate a legal malpractice insurance quote in minutes.  You can get a simple quote for business liability coverage or a broader one for complete business coverage.

Because the firm is backed by AON, you can expect superior coverage, responsive claims processing and expert support to help you reduce risks so you can save on your insurance costs.

Embroker: Best for overall online experience

Embroker offers the first fully digital professional liability policy for lawyers. The entire quoting and insurance purchase process typically takes less than ten minutes, even for an entire legal practice.

Because Embroker is a digital based company, it’s able to pass on what it saves on infrastructure and unnecessary administration to clients. In most cases, Embroker is able to provide the lowest cost insurance in the marketplace. You can also further control your costs by choosing your own policy limits and deductible.

If you’re concerned about working with a virtual agency, you can rest assured knowing you can reach a business insurance expert over the phone, email or chat 24 / 7. In addition, Embroker assigns an account manager to every policyholder who gets to know the ins and outs of their legal practice and the unique risks it faces.

CNA: Best for law firms who value state and regional bar endorsements

CNA is the leading provider of lawyers professional liability insurance in the United States. It covers more than 50,000 law firms and 155,000 lawyers nationwide. 

It’s the bar-endorsed provider of professional liability insurance in Colorado, Connecticut, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New York and Pennsylvania, along with other city and county bar associations. In addition to professional liability coverage, the company also offers law firms other types of property and casualty insurance, including cyber liability, management liability, workers’ compensation, business auto, umbrella and more.

CNA is a solid and stable company that’s been serving the insurance needs of lawyers and law firms of all sizes for more than 50 years.

Travelers: Best for law firms that want coverage from an industry leader

Travelers is a leading provider of professional liability insurance in the United States. The company has been in business for more than 165 years and is the only property casualty company in the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

Travelers is known for its high level of customer service, flexible solutions, responsive service and cutting-edge innovation. Travelers also uses the extensive experience of its more than 30,000 employees to help businesses reduce risk, which typically results in lower premium costs. 

The Travelers errors and omissions policy for lawyers can be tailored to fit the needs of most small- to mid-size law firms.

Some key benefits of a policy from Travelers include:

  • Network and information security offense coverage
  • Automatic acquisitions coverage
  • Expanded professional services coverage
  • Crisis event expense reimbursement coverage
  • Claim services and pre-claim assistance.

Travelers also provides a broad array of risk management tools and resources that can help your legal practice to proactively reduce professional liability exposures. You can also expect to receive a one-hour consultation with a premier professional liability defense firm as part of your package from Travelers, which will give you a chance to discuss a wide range of risk management topics.

Travelers is known for its:

  • Flexible solutions. It has insurance packages tailored to different industries that can be customized for individual businesses.
  • Responsive and reliable service. An experienced professional is always available to answer your questions about business general liability coverage and other types of insurance or to help you with a claim.
  • Innovation. Even though Travelers has been around for a long time, it’s known as a leading innovator in the insurance industry.

In the end, Travelers offers quality professional liability and other types of protection for lawyers, law firms and businesses in many industries. You owe it to yourself to see if this industry leader could be the right insurer for your practice.

If your goal is to get the cheapest policy, be sure to shop around with a few carriers or a digital broker like CoverWallet to compare several quotes:

>>MORE: Best Legal Malpractice Insurance Companies

Thang Truong

Thang Truong covers small business insurance and small business success at BravoPolicy. He is a licensed P&C insurance agent. Previously, he held product leadership positions at, Capital One, NerdWallet, and Mulberry Technology. He holds a MBA degree from UC Berkeley - Haas School of Business.

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