Occurrence vs. Claims-Made: Unveiling Key Differences

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Understanding the difference between claims-made and occurrence policies is crucial when it comes to general liability coverages. It is important to know the specifics of your business insurance and the terms set by your insurance carrier. The type of business insurance policy you choose can have a significant impact on your coverage, premiums, and the insurance carrier. Additionally, it is important to consider tail insurance when selecting a policy.

General liability insurance is a crucial benefit for businesses, providing protection against potential lawsuits and claims. It safeguards the carrier from potential loss and is available in various policy forms. An occurrence policy provided by an insurance carrier covers incidents that happen during the policy period, regardless of when the claim is filed. This type of policy also includes tail insurance as an additional benefit, which helps mitigate potential loss. On the other hand, an insurance carrier’s claims-made policy covers claims only if they are made while the policy is in effect. This type of insurance practice is often accompanied by tail insurance, which provides coverage for claims that are made after the policy has expired. It is important to complete the necessary form to ensure continuous coverage.

Choosing the right insurance policy can be perplexing, but it’s vital to ensure adequate protection for your business. When selecting a carrier, it’s important to consider their claims coverage and their practice in handling claims. To get started, you’ll need to fill out a form to provide the necessary information. By understanding the differences between insurance carriers and their general liability policies, you can make an informed decision that effectively safeguards your business and ensures that claims are covered.


Claims-Made Policies: How they work, what they cover, and what are the benefits and drawbacks of this type of insurance

These policy forms, including the carrier’s practice, operate differently from occurrence policies, and it’s important to understand how they work before making a decision for your business insurance.

Explanation of how claims-made policies operate

Claims-made policies provide coverage for claims that are made during the policy period by the carrier. This type of policy is a common practice in the insurance industry. Unlike occurrence policies that cover incidents that occur during the policy period, claims-made policies focus on when the claim is actually made by the carrier. This is a common practice in the insurance industry. This means that if an incident happens before or after the policy period but a claim is made during the active policy period, it will still be covered.

To ensure continuous coverage, claims-made policies often require you to renew your policy each year. If you switch insurance carriers or let your coverage lapse without purchasing “tail coverage,” which extends coverage for past incidents even after your policy ends, you may lose protection for any future claims related to those incidents.

Coverage provided by claims-made policies

Claims-made policies typically offer comprehensive coverage for various types of claims. Here are some common coverages provided by these policies:

  • Professional liability: Also known as malpractice insurance, this coverage protects professionals such as doctors, lawyers, and architects against claims alleging errors or negligence in their services.

  • Directors and officers liability: This type of coverage safeguards directors and officers of companies from lawsuits arising due to their decisions or actions taken on behalf of the organization.

  • Employment practices liability: This coverage protects businesses against claims related to wrongful termination, discrimination, harassment, or other employment-related issues.

  • Cyber liability: With increasing cyber threats, this coverage helps businesses mitigate financial losses resulting from data breaches or cyberattacks.

  • Generaliability: This provides protection against bodily injury and property damage claims arising out of everyday business operations.

Advantages and disadvantages of opting for a claims-made policy

Like any insurance policy, claims-made policies come with their own set of benefits and drawbacks. Let’s take a look at both sides:


  • Lower initial premiums: Claims-made policies often have lower premiums compared to occurrence policies, making them more affordable for businesses, especially when starting out.

  • Tailored coverage: Claims-made policies can be tailored to specific risks and industries, ensuring that you have the right coverage for your business needs.

  • Flexibility: As your business evolves, you can easily adjust the coverage limits and endorsements on your claims-made policy to meet changing requirements.


  • Limited retroactive coverage: Claims-made policies may have a retroactive date that determines the period from which incidents will be covered. Any incidents occurring before this date may not be covered unless you purchase tail coverage.

  • Potential premium increases: Over time, premiums for claims-made policies can increase as the risk profile of your business changes or if there are market-wide rate adjustments.

  • Reliance on timely reporting: With claims-made policies, it’s crucial to report any potential claim as soon as possible during the active policy period. Delayed reporting could result in denial of coverage.

It’s important to carefully consider these factors and evaluate your business’s needs before deciding between a claims-made policy and an occurrence policy.

Occurrence Policies: How they differ from claims-made policies,

Understanding the key differences between occurrence policies and claims-made policies:

Occurrence policies and claims-made policies are two different types of insurance coverage. While claims-made policies provide coverage for claims made during the policy period, occurrence policies cover incidents that occur during the policy period, regardless of when the claim is filed. This fundamental difference in coverage can have significant implications for policyholders.

Coverage offered by occurrence policies:

With an occurrence policy, the coverage is based on when the incident occurred, rather than when the claim is reported. This means that if an incident happens during the policy period but a claim is filed years later, it will still be covered as long as it falls within the retroactive date specified in the policy. This can be beneficial for businesses or individuals who may not immediately realize or report an incident.

Pros and cons associated with choosing an occurrence policy:


  • Simplicity: Occurrence policies provide straightforward coverage for incidents that occur during a specific time frame. There’s no need to worry about reporting periods or extended reporting endorsements.

  • Long-term protection: Since occurrence policies cover incidents based on when they happen, you can rest assured knowing that you’re protected even after your policy expires.

  • Cost stability: Premiums for occurrence policies tend to remain more stable over time compared to claims-made policies since there’s no need to purchase tail coverage or deal with potential rate increases due to extended reporting periods.


  • Higher upfront costs: Occurrence policies typically have higher initial premiums compared to claims-made policies because they offer broader and longer-lasting coverage.

  • Difficulty switching carriers: If you decide to switch insurance carriers while holding an occurrence policy, you may encounter challenges since new carriers often prefer writing claims-made policies.

  • Potential gaps in coverage: While occurrence policies offer long-term protection, they may not cover incidents that occur after the retroactive date or before the policy’s inception. It’s crucial to carefully review the policy terms and conditions to ensure adequate coverage.

Switching Between Policies

Factors to Consider when Transitioning between Different Types of Insurance Policies

Switching insurance policies can be a daunting task, but it’s important to carefully consider the factors involved to ensure you have the right coverage for your needs. Here are some key points to keep in mind when transitioning between different types of insurance policies:

  • Coverage Differences: Understand the fundamental differences between claims-made and occurrence policies. Claims-made policies provide coverage for incidents that occur and are reported during the policy period, while occurrence policies cover incidents that happen during the policy period regardless of when they are reported.

  • Tail Coverage: If you’re switching from a claims-made policy to an occurrence policy, consider purchasing tail coverage. Tail coverage extends the reporting period for claims-made policies after they have been canceled or expired, ensuring continued protection for past incidents.

  • Prior Acts Coverage: When switching from an occurrence policy to a claims-made policy, check if prior acts coverage is available. This coverage protects you against claims arising from incidents that occurred before your new claims-made policy took effect.

  • Extended Reporting Period: Determine if an extended reporting period endorsement (ERP) is necessary when switching from a claims-made policy without purchasing tail coverage. An ERP provides additional time beyond the expiration or cancellation of your previous claims-made policy to report potential incidents.

  • Policy Limits and Retroactive Dates: Compare the limits of liability and retroactive dates offered by different insurance providers when considering a switch in policies. Ensure that any new policy meets your specific needs and offers adequate protection.

Tips for Avoiding Coverage Gaps or Overlaps During the Switch

Making sure there are no gaps or overlaps in your insurance coverage is crucial during the transition between different types of policies. Here are some tips to help you avoid any potential issues:

  • Plan Ahead: Start planning the switch well in advance to allow sufficient time for research, comparison, and obtaining new coverage. Rushing into a decision may lead to inadequate or overlapping coverage.

  • Review Existing Policies: Carefully review your current policy documents to understand the terms, conditions, and limitations of your existing coverage. This will help you identify any gaps that need to be addressed when switching policies.

  • Consult with an Insurance Professional: Seek guidance from an insurance professional who specializes in your industry or practice area. They can provide valuable insights and recommendations tailored to your specific needs.

  • Notify Your Current Insurer: Inform your current insurer about your intention to switch policies and inquire about any necessary procedures or requirements for cancellation or changes in coverage.

  • Consider Retroactive Dates: Pay close attention to retroactive dates when switching from a claims-made policy to ensure continuous coverage for past incidents without any gaps.

Important Considerations When Switching from a Claims-Made to an Occurrence Policy or Vice Versa

When transitioning between claims-made and occurrence policies specifically, there are additional considerations that require attention:

  • Timing: Be mindful of the timing of the switch as it can impact coverage continuity. Ensure that there is no gap between the expiration of one policy and the start of another.

  • Costs: Understand how switching policies may affect premiums and costs associated with tail coverage, prior acts coverage, extended reporting periods, or other endorsements needed during the transition.

  • Claims History: Evaluate your claims history before making a switch since it can impact eligibility for certain types of policies or endorsements.

  • New Practice Areas: If you plan on expanding into new practice areas, consult with an insurance professional to determine if your current policy covers these areas adequately or if a different type of policy is required.

Switching between different types of insurance policies involves careful consideration of various factors to ensure seamless coverage.

Extended Reporting Periods: What are they, when do you need them, and how to obtain them for your claims-made policy

In a claims-made policy, the coverage is determined by the reporting period rather than the occurrence date. This means that if an incident occurs during the policy period but is reported after the expiration date, it may not be covered. That’s where extended reporting periods (ERPs) come into play. ERPs provide an additional window of time to report incidents that happened within the policy period but were not reported before its expiration.

Definition of extended reporting periods (ERPs) in relation to claims-made policies

Extended reporting periods, also known as tail coverage or run-off coverage, are optional provisions offered by insurance companies. They allow policyholders to extend the reporting period beyond the expiration date of their claims-made policy. ERPs ensure that even if a claim arises after the policy has expired, it can still be reported and potentially covered.

Instances where ERPs may be necessary

There are several situations where obtaining an extended reporting period for your claims-made policy might be necessary:

  • Retirement or Career Change: If you’re retiring from your profession or changing careers, you might want to consider obtaining an ERP. This ensures that any potential claims arising from incidents during your active practice can still be reported and covered even after you have left.

  • Cancellation or Non-Renewal: In some cases, insurance companies may cancel or choose not to renew a claims-made policy due to various reasons such as increased risk exposure or changes in underwriting guidelines. If this happens and you don’t secure another claims-made policy with retroactive coverage, obtaining an ERP becomes crucial to protect yourself against future claims related to past incidents.

  • Selling Your Business: If you own a business and decide to sell it, having an ERP is essential. It allows you and your business successors to report and cover potential claims that arise after the sale but are related to incidents that occurred during your ownership.

Steps involved in obtaining extended reporting periods for your claims-made policy

Obtaining an extended reporting period for your claims-made policy involves a few steps:

  • Review Your Policy: Carefully review your current claims-made policy to understand the terms and conditions regarding ERPs. Take note of the expiration date, retroactive date, and any specific requirements or limitations mentioned.

  • Notify Your Insurer: Contact your insurance company as soon as possible to express your interest in obtaining an extended reporting period. Provide them with all the necessary information they require, such as policy details, effective dates, and reasons for requesting an ERP.

  • Evaluate Options: Your insurance company will provide you with options for extending the reporting period. They may offer different durations, such as one year or multiple years, depending on their policies and guidelines. Evaluate these options based on your needs and budget.

  • Negotiate Terms: Once you have chosen an option, negotiate the terms of the extended reporting period with your insurer. This includes discussing premiums or any additional costs associated with obtaining tail coverage.

  • Secure the Extended Reporting Period: After reaching an agreement with your insurer, secure the extended reporting period by paying any required premiums or fees within the specified timeframe. Ensure that you receive written confirmation of the ERP from your insurance company.

Remember that each insurance company may have its own process and requirements for obtaining ERPs, so it’s important to follow their guidelines closely to ensure a smooth transition from your claims-made policy to an extended reporting period.

Coverage Comparison (Occurrence vs Claims Made)

Let’s take a closer look at the differences:

Coverage Comparison (Occurrence vs Claims Made)

Occurrence Coverage Claims Made Coverage
Definition Occurrence coverage provides protection for claims that arise from incidents that occur during the policy period, regardless of when the claim is reported. Claims made coverage provides protection for claims that are reported during the policy period, regardless of when the incident occurred.
Retroactive Date Occurrence coverage does not require a retroactive date. Claims made coverage requires a retroactive date, which is the date from which the policyholder is covered for claims arising from incidents that occurred after that date.
Premiums Occurrence coverage tends to have higher premiums due to the longer exposure period. Claims made coverage tends to have lower initial premiums but can increase over time due to the potential for claims to be reported in the future.
Extended Reporting Periods Occurrence coverage does not require extended reporting periods since claims can be reported even after the policy has expired. Claims made coverage may require extended reporting periods, also known as tail coverage, to provide coverage for claims reported after the policy has expired.
Coverage Availability Occurrence coverage is less common and may be harder to find, especially for certain high-risk industries. Claims made coverage is more widely available and commonly used in professional liability insurance.
Coverage Limits Occurrence coverage may have higher coverage limits since claims can be reported even after the policy has expired. Claims made coverage may have lower coverage limits since claims must be reported during the policy period.
Coverage Stability Occurrence coverage provides more stability since the coverage remains the same even if the policy is canceled or non-renewed. Claims made coverage may be less stable since changes in coverage or premiums can occur at each renewal or when switching insurers.
Tail Coverage Occurrence coverage does not require tail coverage since claims can be reported even after the policy has expired. Claims made coverage

Occurrence Policies

Occurrence policies provide coverage for any incident that occurs during the policy period, regardless of when the claim is filed. Here are some key points to consider:

  • Pros:

  • Coverage extends beyond the policy period.

  • No need to purchase extended reporting periods.

  • Provides long-term protection against claims arising from past events.

  • Cons:

  • Premiums may be higher compared to claims made policies.

  • Insurer can’t limit or exclude coverage for future claims related to an incident.

Claims Made Policies

Claims made policies provide coverage for incidents that occur and are reported within the policy period. Here are some important details about these policies:

  • Pros:

  • Initial premiums may be lower than occurrence policies.

  • Insurer has more control over future claims by limiting or excluding coverage.

  • Flexibility in tailoring coverage as per changing needs.

  • Cons:

  • Requires purchasing extended reporting periods (ERP) or “tail” coverage to extend coverage beyond the policy period.

  • Potential for gaps in coverage if a claim is reported after the policy expires and no ERP is purchased.


Now that we have explored the differences between occurrence and claims-made policies, it’s clear that each type has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Claims-made policies offer more affordable premiums initially, but they require timely reporting of claims and may leave you exposed if you switch to an occurrence policy without obtaining an extended reporting period. On the other hand, occurrence policies provide broader coverage and greater peace of mind, but they come with higher premiums.

In order to make the best decision for your insurance needs, consider factors such as your risk tolerance, budget, and long-term plans. Assess whether you prefer the lower cost upfront or the comprehensive coverage offered by occurrence policies. Evaluate any potential gaps or overlaps in coverage when switching between these types of policies.

Ultimately, choosing the right insurance policy is a crucial decision that requires careful consideration. Be sure to consult with a knowledgeable insurance professional who can guide you through the process and help you find the best fit for your unique circumstances.


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By Kane Wilson

Kane Wilson, founder of this news website, is a seasoned news editor renowned for his analytical skills and meticulous approach to storytelling. His journey in journalism began as a local reporter, and he quickly climbed the ranks due to his talent for unearthing compelling stories. Kane completed his Master’s degree in Media Studies from Northwestern University and spent several years in broadcast journalism prior to co-founding this platform. His dedication to delivering unbiased news and ability to present complex issues in an easily digestible format make him an influential voice in the industry.

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