How to Buy Product Liability Insurance

Two Parts:Researching InsurersPurchasing Insurance

If you design, manufacture, or distribute a product, then you may face legal liability should the product injure someone. To protect yourself, you can purchase product liability insurance, which will protect you from personal injury and property damage claims. Product liability insurance is also beneficial for anyone in the supply chain. If you repair products or transport them, then you also could be sued for personal injuries or for property damage.[1]

Part 1
Researching Insurers

  1. Image titled Buy Product Liability Insurance Step 1
    Pick a level of coverage. Standard product liability insurance will cover bodily injury and property damage. Coverage amounts, however, can vary by insurer. For example, some insurers will sell up to $1,000,000 in insurance per occurrence, with excess limits up to $10,000,000.[2]
    • Other insurers offer up to $25,000,000 in coverage.[3]
    • You should consider how many products you have in the market. If you are a new manufacturer, then you might not need the maximum coverage amount because you have few products in the market.
  2. Image titled Buy Product Liability Insurance Step 2
    Gather information about past claims. You will need to disclose past claims to the insurer, so you should gather all information that you have about the claim. Gather at least the following:
    • the number of claims against you
    • the dollar amount sought for each claim
    • whether you were found liable for the injury in court and for how much
    • if you settled with the injured and the dollar amount
    • the name of the insurer who defended you against the claim or who paid out on the claim
  3. Image titled Buy Product Liability Insurance Step 3
    Find insurers. Not every insurance company offers product liability insurance. To find an insurer who does, you should research insurers. You can get the names of insurers who offer this insurance in a couple of ways.
    • Contact an independent agent. The agent will gather information about your business and your budget and find policies that match your needs.[4] You can find an insurance agent by looking in your phone book or by asking acquaintances for referrals.
    • Internet research. You can try to find providers of product liability insurance by performing an Internet search. Type “product liability insurance” and then your state into a browser. Once you have the name of an insurer, contact your state’s Insurance Department to find out if the insurer is licensed in your state.
  4. Image titled Buy Product Liability Insurance Step 4
    Check if the insurer covers your industry. An insurer may specialize in a niche industry or offer insurance for a wide range of industries. You should check the insurer’s website to see if it covers your particular industry. Common industries covered include:[5]
    • medical equipment
    • pharmaceutical companies
    • gun and firearms industry
    • cosmetics
    • nanotechnology
    • sports and recreational equipment
    • health and fitness
  5. Image titled Buy Product Liability Insurance Step 5
    Compare services offered. Insurers offer many services in addition to simple coverage of claims against you. For example, an insurer should be prepared to perform in-depth investigations into accidents so that the cause of the accident can be identified. In this way, you can then prevent similar accidents from happening again. Insurers can also offer other services:[6]
    • Claims prevention services. After assessing the risks for your business, an insurer can offer training programs and other services that will increase the safety of your products and your workplace. They can also help monitor your safety performance over time.
    • Risk improvement services. An insurer can also help insured policyholders improve the safety of their products following an on-site assessment. Some insurers do this by maintaining a database of suppliers with strong safety records. You gain access to this information.
  6. Image titled Buy Product Liability Insurance Step 6
    Estimate costs. The precise costs for product liability insurance will vary depending on your industry and the insurer. However, to get a rough estimate, you can use the following formula: about 26 cents per $100 in retail costs.[7]
    • Accordingly, if you have $1,000,000 in retail costs, then you can expect a policy to cost $2,600. If you sell a dangerous product (like a gun), then your costs will probably be higher. If you sell a safe product, then the costs will probably be lower.
    • Although the cost of product liability insurance may sound excessive, you should weigh the costs against the potential liability that you face. If someone brings a products liability lawsuit against you, then you could face millions of dollars in damages.

Part 2
Purchasing Insurance

  1. Image titled Buy Product Liability Insurance Step 7
    Get quotes. After you have identified a few insurers, you can contact them and get quotes for product liability insurance. You can request quotes by visiting the insurer’s website. Click on the applicable button. Your policy will be rated on the following factors:[8]
    • the product you are insuring
    • the number of products distributed in the market
    • what the products are used for and who uses them
    • how long the products are intended to last
    • what the products are made from
    • what claims do you make about the products (whether in writing or in the media)
    • the clarity of instructions, directions, and warranties
  2. Image titled Buy Product Liability Insurance Step 8
    Read the policy. Before agreeing, you should read the fine print on a policy. Pay particular attention to exclusions. Most policies will explain situations or products that are excluded. Make sure that you are comfortable with the exclusions. If not, you shouldn’t sign the contract. Here are some common exclusions:[9]
    • Anti-trust. The insurer will not defend you or cover any claim for an actual or alleged anti-trust violation. This includes price-fixing, unfair competition, or conspiracy claims.
    • Asbestos. If your products contain asbestos, then make sure you don’t sign a policy with this exclusion.
    • Criminal violations. You shouldn’t expect to be defended for violating any law or regulation that carries a criminal penalty (such as jail time or a fine).
    • Contractual liability. Unless otherwise stated, an insurance policy will cover only claims for personal injury or property damage. If you are sued for breaching a contract, then you probably won’t be covered.
    • Discrimination claims. As with contractual liability, a discrimination claim is not covered by a product liability insurance policy. If you want coverage for contract, discrimination, pollution, or copyright infringement claims, then you should look into getting a general liability insurance policy.
  3. Image titled Buy Product Liability Insurance Step 9
    Look for “duty to defend” provisions. You want to find a policy that includes two important provisions; one is referred to as the duty to indemnify and the other is the duty to defend. The duty to indemnify is is an insurer's promise to pay for your legal liability up to your policy limits. The duty to defend is an agreement that requires your insurer to hire legal counsel to defend a covered suit.
    • Be sure you read the policy provision carefully. Each policy will contain language about what claims will fall under the policy and what claims will be excluded. Try to find a policy with broad language that will defend and indemnify as much as possible.[10]
    • For example, if your insurer is faced with a covered claim from a third party and you have these provisions, your insurer will pay for all costs and fees associated with defending the claim and they will also pay any monetary award entered against you (up to the coverage of your policy).
  4. Image titled Buy Product Liability Insurance Step 10
    Pay your premiums. Insurers may offer different payment options. For example, you may have to pay a certain percent up front and then spread out the remaining premiums over a number of months.
    • Before signing, you should ask about payment options. Find out when premiums are due, the acceptable method of payment, and whether you have any grace period.
    • You should continue to maintain product liability coverage for as long as the products are used. A product you sold eight years ago could still harm someone. Accordingly, you will still want your policy to be in force to help defend you against any possible claims.
  5. Image titled Buy Product Liability Insurance Step 11
    Contact the insurer immediately if you face a claim. Part of having a good relationship with your insurer includes informing them of any claims against you as soon as possible. Your agent or insurance carrier should provide you with a phone number to call.[11] Don’t hesitate to call as soon as you find out that your product has harmed someone.


  • A solid product liability insurance policy is only one component of effective risk management. You should also work with a product safety specialist to make sure that your warning labels and assembly instructions are effective.[12]

Article Info

Categories: Insurance