General Liability Insurance for Independent Contractors
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General liability insurance for independent contractors

General liability insurance provides coverage for customer injuries, customer property damage, and lawsuits related to both. It’s usually the first policy small business owners purchase because they often need it to sign commercial leases and client contracts.

Why does an independent contractor need general liability insurance?

Like any other small business owner, independent contractors can be sued and held liable for damages. General liability insurance is essential for independent contractors because:

It protects you and your business. Independent contractors have the same legal obligations and liability exposures as larger firms. They can be sued for damaging client property, causing bodily harm, or advertising injury. General liability insurance helps cover legal fees and damages resulting from a lawsuit.

Your clients want you to have it. Your clients may require you to have general liability insurance before they sign a contract with you. Without this insurance, they could be held responsible for alleged wrongdoing or accidents caused by you or your work.

It may be required by law. Certain industries, such as construction, require independent contractors to obtain general liability coverage. Most often, it’s best for both you and your client to obtain separate general liability insurance policies.

Can an independent contractor be held liable for damages?

Independent contractors can be sued and held liable for damages, just like other small business owners. Without insurance, you would have to pay out of pocket to defend yourself in court and also pay for damages. With a general liability insurance policy, those expenses are covered.

Different industries bring different risks. A 1099 worker hired to design a web page faces significantly different risks than one hired to remodel a bathroom. For example, the web designer is more likely to run into copyright infringement issues, while the remodeler faces the risk of potential injury to the homeowner. General liability insurance addresses both issues.

How does an independent contractor get general liability coverage?

There are two ways for an independent contractor to get general liability coverage:

Your clients can add you to their general liability policy as an additional insured. This means you are covered by their insurance for the duration of the job, or longer. A business can add multiple contractors to its general liability policy. It’s typically more expensive for clients to include you in their policy as an additional insured. However, they may decide to add you, depending on the situation.

You can get your own general liability policy. You can purchase general liability insurance from an insurance provider. To show a client that you are covered, request a certificate of insurance from your provider. This option is usually more cost-effective for your clients.

Both options provide protection if either you or your client is faced with a lawsuit over third-party bodily injury or property damage.

What are the benefits of being an additional insured?

An additional insured is anyone besides a policyholder who is covered by an insurance policy. An additional insured has less protection than the policyholder, but still gains crucial coverage, such as:

Defense coverage. If a third party sues the additional insured over work done for the business, the business owner’s policy can address the claim. The additional insured can receive coverage for lawyers’ fees, court costs, and settlements or judgments.

Coverage for certain third-party lawsuits. An additional insured may be covered when sued over bodily injury, property damage, and advertising injury.

Who’s responsible for adding an additional insured?

Business owners can add an additional insured to an insurance policy; independent contractors can also add business owners to their policy. So is the business owner or the subcontractor responsible for adding the additional insured? It depends largely on the scenario, and practices vary by industry.

Independent contractors typically have insurance obligations in their work contract that they have to fulfill. These contract requirements will often state whether the company needs to be added as an additional insured.

Independent contractor insurance varies significantly across industries. Ask your Insureon agent about the cost and benefits of getting your own insurance versus being added to your client’s policy.

Other insurance for independent contractors

In addition to general liability insurance, contractors may need:

Get free quotes for general liability insurance

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General liability insurance: further reading

General liability insurance in the Insureon blog