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General liability insurance

General liability insurance is defined as insurance protection for third-party property damage or personal and advertising injuries allegedly caused by you or an employee.

How general liability insurance protects your business

Commercial general liability (CGL) insurance provides a financial safety net in case you’re sued for a bodily injury that occurred at your business, for damaging a visitor’s property, or causing an advertising injury, such as slander, copyright violation, or libel.

Your general liability insurance will pay for reasonable costs involved in your legal defense. This includes attorney, court, and expert witness fees. It also covers any financial losses you incur while participating in your defense. 

General liability insurance also covers judgments and settlements related to your case, as well as the plaintiff’s medical expenses. 

For cases of serious property damage or injuries, settlements and court judgments can easily bankrupt a small business. For this reason, general liability insurance is one of the most common insurance policies.

General liability insurance does not cover:

  • Losses or injuries you cause through your own negligence
  • Your personal or commercial property
  • Your personal vehicles or boats
  • Breach of your confidential personal information
  • Professional services provided to a client
  • Injuries or disabilities among your own employees 
  • Damage or injuries you intentionally cause

Learn more about general liability insurance.

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Who needs general liability insurance?

Almost every small business needs general liability insurance since a large bodily injury or property damage claim can be a serious financial threat.  

Businesses in the following industries need general liability insurance protection:


However, some companies need general liability insurance even more than usual. These include companies that:

  • Bring customers or visitors into their workspace
  • Work with customers on dangerous equipment
  • Conduct business activities at a third-party location
  • Rent from a commercial landlord who requires coverage
  • Make deals with customers who require a certificate of general liability insurance before signing a contract

General liability insurance eligibility requirements

You should have no trouble qualifying for general liability insurance, as long as your company:

  • Doesn’t do unusually risky work
  • Doesn’t have a history of frequent claims

If you’re a responsible business owner doing reasonably safe work – and you haven’t been sued often in the past – most insurers will be happy to provide coverage.

Find free quotes for general liability insurance

Insureon helps small business owners compare commercial insurance quotes from A-rated U.S. carriers with one easy online application. Start a quote today to protect your business against claims from third parties.

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Updated: February 12, 2024

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