General Liability and Professional Liability

Insurance language can be confusing. And while it’s not meant to cause anxiety and confusion, the terms, definitions and knowing what is actually covered can be frustrating. Let’s start with the basics of Professional Liability and General Liability.

Professional Liability insurance is designed to cover you while you are carrying out the normal duties of your profession. In the ophthalmic industry, Professional Liability is often called Malpractice Insurance and both terms can be used interchangeably.

Malpractice (or Professional Liability) is designed to protect you from claims or allegations of an error, such as a missed diagnosis or an injury during an exam. This coverage is almost always required by your state— whether you practice part-time or full-time, regardless of setting. Because you work in a line of health care where regulations can change or update with some frequency, it’s prudent to ask if the professional liability coverage you are considering includes full-scope of practice coverage, and automatically updates with changes in your state’s scope.

General Liability (GL) is designed to cover risks associated with a business, and anyone who comes in contact with that business. Examples of GL claims can include a client tripping on a welcome mat coming into your office, or a patient’s vehicle getting damaged in your parking lot. ODs who work in a retail setting are usually required to provide proof of GL Insurance. This type of insurance is not particular to doctors of optometry, and is commonly confused with Professional Liability Insurance.

Protecting yourself and your practice is prudent, so don’t let potentially confusing terms and language interfere with the process. Call AOA Insurance Alliance administered by Lockton Affinity at (888) 343-1998, or send your questions to [email protected].

Coverage may not be available in all states and is subject to actual policy terms and conditions.  Coverage is provided by an excess/surplus lines insurer which is not licensed by or subject to the supervision of the insurance department of your state of residence. Policy coverage forms and rates are not subject to regulation by the insurance department of your state of residence. Excess/surplus lines insurers do not generally participate in state guaranty funds and therefore insureds are not protected by such funds in the event of the insurer’s insolvency.