Accountants Professional Liability Insurance Considerations

Many firms wonder why they should buy accountants E&O (also called accountants malpractice) insurance. Rising legal fees, frivolous lawsuits, court costs, loss of reputation, fines, penalties and awards are just some of the costs associated with a claim made against an accounting firm. In order to protect against these costs, it is important that a firm purchase errors and omission insurance.Errors and omissions insurance not only protects the balance sheet from the costs associated with a claim, but also partners with an expert who is experienced in how to respond to claims. The insurance company will refer your matter to specialized defense attorneys who are able to help the firm navigate the complex legal matters associated with a claim. Having someone walk beside the policy holder in the process will provide great peace of mind.

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A firm may be too small for insurance if you have no clients or revenue. Otherwise, the company need insurance. Accounting and attestation work is becoming more complex and litigation is increasing. Professional liability insurance protects you against a lawsuit based on a mistake you may make as an accountant, auditor, fiduciary, tax preparer or consultant. If you or your firm renders any of these services, then there is a potential for a lawsuit – and a need for insurance.A broker’s first step in placing insurance is to gather information about the firm. Generally this involves an application and a brief meeting over the phone or in-person. Your broker will then contact insurance companies and negotiate terms on the clients behalf. After receiving competitive quotes, the broker will then present each option to the policy holder. Together, they will decide which option is best for the firm.There are many factors that influence the cost of professional liability insurance.The location of firm’s headquarters is important, underwriters also look at where a firm is licensed to practice. Operating in a litigious venue can generate a premium many multiples higher than a lower volatility area.The coverage options a broker request will greatly influence cost. A Cadillac policy is going to cost much more than a bare bones one. Buyers should understand the options available and work with their broker to tweak coverage.A retroactive date also directly influences premium. The longer coverage has been in place the more exposure and, not surprisingly, more expensive. Most policies top out after five or six years.

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The areas of practice the firm engages in is a central rating factor. Tax shelter advice, public auditing and attestation are very high profile exposures. Preparing tax returns and estate filings, on the other hand, are much safer.The number of professionals in the firm is the direct exposure base. Generally hiring 10% more accountants will result in 10% more premium. When going into a renewal, a firm must be realistic about its change in exposure.Prior claim experience can make obtaining coverage very difficult and very expensive. Work with an expert broker to make sure your risk is presented to underwriters in the most positive light, this will allow you to drive the best deal possible.