Choosing Between Occurrence-Based and Claims-Made Policies

Choosing the right insurance policy is a crucial decision for any business owner. With so many different types of policies available, it can be overwhelming to understand the differences and choose the one that suits your needs. Two common types of insurance policies are occurrence-based and claims-made policies. These two differ primarily in the way they accept claim requests from the insured.

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What is an Occurrence Insurance Policy?

An occurrence insurance policy is a type of Commercial General Liability Insurance that provides coverage for any event that occurs during the policy period, regardless of the date the claim is filed. This means that if a claim arises from an incident that happened while the policy was active, the insurance company will cover the costs, even if the claim is filed years later.

However, it's important to note that occurrence policies may have limits on the aggregate coverage amount. This means that the policy may have a maximum limit for the total claims covered during the policy period, regardless of the number of occurrences. It's essential for business owners to carefully review the coverage limits and ensure they have adequate protection for potential claims.

What Are the Advantages of an Occurrence Policy?

One of the key benefits of an occurrence policy is the lifetime coverage it offers. Once the policy is active, the coverage applies indefinitely, even after the policy expiration date. This type of coverage is particularly important for liabilities that may have a longer time period between the occurrence and the claim, such as those related to construction defects or medical malpractice.

Occurrence policies typically do not require the purchase of extended reporting periods (tail coverage), which can save you money in the long run. Moreover, occurrence policies provide more stability and peace of mind, as they offer continuous coverage for past and future incidents

What is a Claims-Made Policy?

A claims-made policy, on the other hand, provides coverage for claims that are made during the policy period. Unlike occurrence policies, the retroactive date of a claims-made policy determines the date from which the policy covers claims. Any claims made after the retroactive date and before the policy expiration date will be covered.

Another consideration of claims-made policies is the potential need for prior acts coverage. Claims-made policies cover claims made during the policy period. So, if business owners switch from an occurrence policy to a claims-made policy need to ensure they have coverage for incidents that occurred prior to the start of the claims-made policy.

What are the Advantages of a Claims-Made Policy?

A claims-made policy offers several advantages. Firstly, it typically has lower initial premiums compared to occurrence-based policies. Additionally, claims-made policies provide more flexibility in terms of coverage options and limits.

They also offer retroactive date endorsement, which allows you to extend coverage for past incidents. Moreover, claims-made policies provide extended reporting period options, also known as tail coverage, which can safeguard against future claims even after the policy has expired.

Key Considerations in Decision-Making

Here are some things to keep in mind while choosing between claims-made or occurrence policies

  • Affordability - Premiums of claims-made policies (without tail coverage) are generally more affordable than occurrence-based policies.
  • Retroactive date - Claims-made policies generally have retroactive date endorsements, something not usually found with occurrence policies
  • Tail coverage - You do not need to buy a separate tail coverage with an occurrence policy. In comparison, claims-made buyers require and prefer buying tail coverage for their peace of mind.
  • Industry-specific Considerations - If your business involves incidents with a waiting period affecting future claim generation, an occurrence policy may be suitable. Conversely, if past incidents have minimal impact on your company's assets, opting for a claim-based policy is the better choice.

How to Choose the Right Fit for Your Needs?

If you are unsure of how to choose the right insurance type for your business, here are some specific considerations to make it easier:

  1. Assessing Your Unique Needs

    Understanding the nature of your business venture and the potential claims it may face is essential. Assessing the current policy, whether it's a Professional Liability Insurance Policy or a General Liability Insurance Policy, can provide insights into coverage limits and aggregate limits.

    Additionally, evaluating the prior acts coverage and the retroactive date of the occurrence insurance policy or claims-made policy is crucial for ensuring lifetime coverage and protection. Use all of this information to make a more informed decision for your business.

  2. Consulting with Insurance Professionals for Personalized Guidance

    When seeking personalized guidance for Professional Liability Insurance, consulting with insurance professionals is crucial. These experts can provide tailored advice on general liability insurance, occurrence coverage, and extended reporting periods. They can also offer insights on liability insurance policy expiration dates and retroactive dates relevant to your business venture or small business owner status.


Choosing between occurrence-based and claims-made policies is a critical aspect of securing the right insurance coverage for your unique needs. Each type has its merits and considerations. Hence, thoroughly assess your specific circumstances and weigh the advantages and limitations of each policy type.

This will help you make an informed decision that aligns with your long-term business goals and provides the necessary protection by understanding the intricacies of occurrence-based and claims-made policies. If you haven't taken the policy yet, you can find a range of policies on for all your needs. Find the best one and insure your business today.

Written By: PolicyBazaar - Updated: 22 February 2024
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