Understanding Differences: Errors and Omissions vs. General Liability

Learn if errors and omissions insurance is the same as general liability in our detailed comparison guide.


Is errors and omissions insurance the same as general liability? No, they are not the same. While both types of insurance aim to protect businesses from financial losses, they cover different kinds of risks. Understanding the distinction between these two insurances is crucial for any business owner since it affects how you manage potential liabilities specific to your operations and professional advice.

Errors and Omissions (E&O) insurance, often referred to as Professional Liability Insurance, is designed to cover financial losses and legal expenses arising from claims of inadequate work or negligence in your professional services. This would include situations like a software developer’s code causing client data loss or an accountant’s error in a financial report.

On the other hand, General Liability Insurance is broader and defends your business against physical injury claims, property damage, and advertising injuries caused by your operations. For example, if a customer slips and falls in your store, or if your advertisement inadvertently defames another business.

Understanding these differences is vital. It ensures you’re neither underinsured nor paying for coverage that doesn’t apply to your specific business activities. This foundational knowledge helps in making informed, strategic decisions about the right insurance protection for your assets and operations.

Detailed infographic comparing errors and omissions insurance versus general liability, highlighting coverage areas, typical claim scenarios, and the appropriate types of businesses for each insurance type - is errors and omissions insurance the same as general liability infographic comparison-2-items-casual

What is General Liability Insurance?

General Liability Insurance is like a safety net for your business. It covers the general risks most businesses face during their daily operations. If someone gets hurt at your place or if you accidentally damage someone else’s stuff, this insurance can help you handle the costs.

Key Features of General Liability Insurance

1. Definition:
General Liability Insurance protects businesses from financial losses due to legal issues involving third parties. This could include someone getting hurt or property getting damaged because of your business activities.

2. Coverage Scope:
This insurance broadly covers:
Bodily Injury: If a customer slips and falls in your store, general liability insurance can help cover their medical expenses.
Property Damage: If you or your employees accidentally damage a client’s property, like breaking a window during a service visit, this insurance can help pay for repairs.
Advertising Injury: If your advertisement accidentally infringes on someone else’s rights or reputation, this insurance can cover the legal costs.

3. Client Contracts:
Often, if you’re renting a space or providing services, the contract will require you to have general liability insurance. This is to ensure that any accidents related to your business don’t end up being a financial burden on the property owner or your client.

4. Physical Risks:
This insurance is crucial because it deals with physical risks—things you can see and touch, like a broken chair or a wet floor that might cause someone to trip.

5. Third-Party Claims:
If a third party, like a customer or a visitor, claims they were injured or their property was damaged because of your business, this insurance can help you deal with those claims.

6. Legal Expenses:
Court battles can be expensive. General Liability Insurance helps cover legal fees, whether you’re found at fault or not.

7. Settlements and Court Costs:
Beyond just legal fees, if there’s a settlement or you need to pay court costs, general liability insurance can help cover these financial burdens.

In summary, General Liability Insurance is essential for handling the kinds of accidents and legal issues that can pop up during normal business operations. It’s about protecting your business from the financial impact of these real, tangible risks. This coverage is a fundamental layer of protection that every business owner should consider.

What is Errors and Omissions Insurance?

Errors and Omissions (E&O) insurance, also known as Professional Liability Insurance, is a type of coverage specifically designed to protect professionals and their businesses against claims made by clients for inadequate work or negligent actions. This insurance is crucial for anyone who provides a service or advice, such as consultants, accountants, and lawyers.

Key Features of Errors and Omissions Insurance

  • Professional Errors: E&O insurance covers claims arising from errors or omissions in the services provided, which could lead to financial loss for clients. For example, if an accountant makes a tax error that results in a client facing penalties, E&O insurance can cover the financial repercussions.

  • Narrow Focus: Unlike general liability insurance, which covers a broad range of potential risks, E&O insurance has a narrow focus. It specifically addresses the risks associated with the professional services you provide.

  • Industry-Specific Names: Depending on the profession, E&O insurance may be referred to by different names. For instance, it’s often called malpractice insurance when it relates to medical professionals.

  • Professional Liability: This is another common term for E&O insurance. It emphasizes the liability aspect of providing professional advice or services that could lead to client dissatisfaction if not properly executed.

  • Legal Defense: If a claim is made against you, E&O insurance helps cover the legal fees associated with defending your business in court. This is vital as legal defense can be costly and complex.

  • Financial Losses: E&O insurance helps mitigate the financial impact if your professional advice or service fails to meet a client’s expectations and results in a financial loss for them.

  • Client Dissatisfaction: Even if a mistake wasn’t made, E&O insurance can protect you in cases where a client claims dissatisfaction with the outcome of your service. This is crucial in maintaining the financial stability of your business amidst disputes.

Is errors and omissions insurance the same as general liability? The answer is no. While both types of insurance provide vital protection for businesses, they cover very different types of risks. Errors and Omissions insurance is specifically tailored to protect against the risks of providing professional services and advice, which are not covered under general liability insurance. This distinction is important for professionals who could face claims that involve advice, expertise, or professional services leading to client financial loss.

Understanding these key features and distinctions helps ensure that professionals can choose the right type of insurance to protect against the specific risks their businesses face.

Comparing General Liability and Errors and Omissions Insurance

When Do You Need Both?

When running a business, understanding the nuances of is errors and omissions insurance the same as general liability is crucial. These two types of insurance serve different purposes and offer protection against distinct types of risks. Let’s explore when it might be necessary to have both policies.

Coverage Differences:
General Liability Insurance covers physical risks such as bodily injuries or property damage caused by your business operations. For instance, if a customer slips and falls in your store, this insurance would cover the medical expenses.

Errors and Omissions Insurance, on the other hand, protects your business against financial losses that your clients might experience due to your professional advice or services. For example, if a financial advisor gives poor advice that leads to a client losing money, E&O insurance would cover the legal costs and any settlements.

Risk Exposures:
The risks covered by General Liability are more about physical interactions and accidents in your business space. Errors and Omissions cover risks related to the intangible aspects, like advice, consulting, or any professional services that you provide.

Protection Scope:
General Liability offers a broad protection scope covering various common business incidents, while Errors and Omissions is more specialized, focusing on risks associated with professional services and advice.

Claims-Made Coverage:
Errors and Omissions Insurance is typically issued on a claims-made basis. This means it only covers claims made during the policy period. General Liability coverage doesn’t usually operate on a claims-made basis; it tends to cover claims related to incidents that occur during the policy period, regardless of when the claim is made.

Work Liability Protection:
While General Liability covers physical damages and injuries on your business premises, Errors and Omissions protects against claims of negligence or failure to perform your professional duties adequately.

Required by Clients:
In many industries, especially those providing professional services, clients may require you to have Errors and Omissions Insurance before entering into contracts. This is less common with General Liability but can be a requirement if physical interaction is involved.

Professional Services:
If your business offers services such as legal advice, consulting, or accountancy, Errors and Omissions Insurance is essential. These professions involve advising clients who rely heavily on your expertise, and any misguidance could lead to significant financial losses.

Office Building Risks:
If you own or lease office space, General Liability Insurance is crucial. It covers you if someone is injured on your property, helping to handle potential lawsuits and medical claims.

Client Requirements:
Some clients might require both types of insurance as a condition of their contracts, particularly in industries where both physical and professional risks are present.

Comprehensive Protection:
Having both General Liability and Errors and Omissions Insurance provides a more comprehensive protection strategy. It ensures that your business is safeguarded against a wide array of potential risks, from physical injuries on your property to claims of professional negligence.

By understanding these distinctions and when each type of insurance is necessary, you can better protect your business from various risks. For those providing professional services, or businesses that interact physically with clients, having both General Liability and Errors and Omissions Insurance isn’t just a precaution—it’s a necessity.

Common Misconceptions and Clarifications

Frequently Asked Questions about Insurance

Is general liability the same as liability insurance?
Yes and no. General liability insurance is a type of liability insurance specifically designed to cover third-party claims for bodily injury, property damage, and advertising injury. While it falls under the broader category of liability insurance, it does not encompass all types, such as professional liability or automobile liability.

Exclusions from general liability
General liability insurance does not cover:
– Employee injuries (workers’ compensation covers this)
– Professional mistakes (covered by errors and omissions insurance)
– Intentional acts that cause damage

Errors and omissions vs negligence
Errors and omissions (E&O) insurance covers claims from professional services that didn’t meet expectations or caused harm due to oversight or mistakes. Negligence, on the other hand, refers to the failure to take reasonable care to avoid causing injury or loss to another person. E&O insurance can cover claims of negligence related to professional services.

Unintentional errors and omissions endorsement
This refers to an addition to a policy that extends coverage to include unintentional mistakes in services provided. Not all E&O policies automatically cover every mistake; this endorsement can be crucial for comprehensive protection.

What else is errors and omissions insurance called?
Errors and omissions insurance is also known as professional liability insurance. In medical professions, it’s often referred to as malpractice insurance.

What is general liability insurance called?
General liability insurance is also commonly referred to as business liability insurance or commercial general liability insurance.

What is excluded from general liability insurance?
General liability insurance typically excludes:
– Professional errors (need E&O for that)
– Damage to your own property
– Claims related to employee injuries or employment practices

Understanding these key points helps clarify what each insurance type covers and does not cover, ensuring that business owners can make informed decisions about the protection they need. This knowledge is crucial for tailoring insurance solutions that truly safeguard your business assets and operations.


Choosing the right insurance for your business isn’t just about fulfilling legal requirements—it’s about ensuring peace of mind and securing your company’s future. At Griffith & Harris, we understand that each business has unique needs, which is why we offer tailored insurance solutions that cater specifically to your risks and exposures.

Protecting your business goes beyond just purchasing a policy. It’s about understanding what each policy covers and how it aligns with your business activities. As we’ve discussed, is errors and omissions insurance the same as general liability? Clearly, the answer is no. Each serves distinct purposes and protects against different types of risks. General Liability Insurance covers more physical risks related to bodily injuries and property damage, whereas Errors and Omissions Insurance is crucial for protecting against claims of professional negligence or inadequate services.

At Griffith & Harris, we don’t just sell insurance—we build relationships. Our approach involves a detailed analysis of your business to ensure that no potential risk is overlooked. From the initial consultation to ongoing risk management, we stand by our philosophy of “Personal Service with Integrity,” ensuring that your business is not just insured, but well protected.

For those who provide professional services or advice, combining both General Liability and Errors and Omissions Insurance might be the best strategy to cover the broad spectrum of potential liabilities. Learn more about our Errors and Omissions Liability Insurance and how we can help tailor a policy that fits your specific needs.

The right insurance is not a cost—it’s an investment in your business’s stability and longevity. Let us help you make the best choice to protect what you’ve worked so hard to build.

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