These are potential causes for legal action that would not be covered by a more general liability insurance policy which addresses more direct forms of harm. Professional liability coverage sometimes also provides for the defence costs, including when legal action turns out to be groundless. Coverage does not include criminal prosecution, nor a wide range of potential liabilities under civil law that are not enumerated in the policy, but which may be subject to other forms of insurance. Professional liability insurance is required by law in some areas for certain kinds of professional practice (especially medical and legal), and is also sometimes required under contract by other businesses that are the beneficiaries of the advice or service.
Professional liability insurance may take on different forms and names depending on the profession. For example, in reference to medical professions it is called malpractice insurance, while errors and omissions (E&O) insurance is used by consultants, brokers and lawyers. Other professions that commonly purchase professional liability insurance include accounting and financial services, construction and maintenance (general contractors, plumbers, etc., many of whom are also surety bonded), and transport. Some charities and othernonprofits/NGOs are also professional-liability insured.