Errors and Omissions Insurance (E&O) Explained: What It Covers

What Is Errors and Omissions Insurance (E&O)?

Errors and omissions insurance (E&O) is a type of professional liability insurance that protects companies, their workers, and other professionals against claims of inadequate work or negligent actions.

Key Takeaways

  • Errors and omissions insurance is a form of professional liability insurance.
  • E&O insurance protects companies and professionals against claims of inadequate work or negligent actions made by clients.
  • Anyone who provides a service requires E&O insurance including financial services, insurance agents, doctors, lawyers, and wedding planners.
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Errors and Omissions Insurance

Understanding Errors and Omissions Insurance (E&O)

Errors and omissions insurance is a form of liability insurance. It protects companies against the full costs of a claim made by a client against a professional who provides advice or a service such as a consultant, financial advisor, insurance agent, or lawyer.

Errors and omissions insurance often covers both court costs and any settlements up to the amount specified by the insurance contract. This kind of liability insurance is generally required for professional advice-giving or service-providing businesses. Without E&O insurance, a company can be held liable for up to millions in damages plus the fees associated with a legal team. E&O insurance helps mitigate or eliminate these potential liabilities.

For example, a client may sue an advisor or broker after an investment goes sour, even if the risks were well-known and within the guidelines established by the client. Even if a court or arbitration panel decides in favor of a broker or investment advisor, the legal fees can be very high, which is why E&O insurance is important.

The benefits E&O insurance gives companies or individuals vary greatly depending on the policy and issuing insurance company. E&O insurance may or may not cover temporary employees, claims stemming from work done before the policy was in force, or claims in various jurisdictions. These policies do not cover criminal prosecution and certain liabilities that may arise in civil court not listed in the policy.

Special Considerations

Insurance brokers, insurance dealers, realtors, registered investment advisors, financial planners, and other financial professionals can obtain E&O insurance. Regulatory bodies, such as insurance regulators, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), or even a company's investors will often require E&O insurance.

E&O insurance is also applicable to businesses outside the financial industry including nonprofits, general maintenance companies and contractors, and engineering firms. Any other company or professional who provides a service, such as wedding planners and printers, also needs E&O insurance. Doctors, dentists, and other medical professionals also take out E&O insurance called malpractice insurance.

The cost of a policy depends on a number of factors including the kind of business covered, its location, and any previous claims that have been paid out in the past. A person or company with numerous litigation problems has a higher underwriting risk and is likely to find E&O insurance more expensive or less favorable in its terms as a result. On average, E&O insurance can run around $500 - $1,000 per employee, per year.

A well-written contract and consistent communication during the transaction help mitigate claims.

Example of Errors and Omissions Insurance

Let's say a company that hosts servers used by third parties for data purposes is breached by hackers who gain access to proprietary information and client data. The companies affected by the hack then sue the server-hosting company for damages for inadequate security. The server-hosting company has an E&O insurance policy and reviews it to see what the policy does and does not cover. To the company's benefit, its errors and omissions policy is robust and covers such situations. The insurance company pays for the legal expenses involved in the court case against multiple companies. It also pays for any monetary damages rendered by the courts or settled in arbitration.

Having errors and omissions coverage helps the company avoid a substantial financial hit—even bankruptcy—depending on the company's finances. If you or your employees are in the business of providing professional advice or other professional services, E&O insurance could be worth your consideration.

Who Needs Errors and Omissions Insurance (E&O)?

Professionals working in financial industries such as insurance, investments, real estate, and accounting will benefit from E&O insurance to cover them in the event of a mistake or omission made on behalf of a client, which can be costly. Many regulatory bodies mandate employees in these professions to obtain E&O coverage through their employer or independently.

Why Is Errors and Omissions Insurance Important?

A client can sue a financial professional if they incur a loss due to an error or omission made during an application process, consultation, or investment decision. E&O insurance covers legal fees and any damages awarded to the client if they are owed.

Is E&O Insurance Expensive?

E&O costs will depend on a variety of factors, including the nature of the business, size of the company, and claims history, On average, E&O can cost between $500 and $1,000 per employee for a given year.

Article Sources
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  1. North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA). "Broker-Dealer E&O Insurance Could Provide Relief for Investors with Unpaid Arbitration Awards." Accessed Feb. 16, 2022.

  2. Nationwide Insurance. "Errors & Omissions Insurance." Accessed Feb. 16, 2022.

  3. The Hartford. "Errors and Omissions Insurance Cost." Accessed Feb. 16, 2022.