General Liability Insurance
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General liability insurance

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General liability insurance

General liability insurance covers common business risks like customer injury, customer property damage, and advertising injury. It protects your small business from the high costs of lawsuits and helps you qualify for leases and contracts.

Does your small business need general liability insurance?

Most small companies need this insurance, especially if you rent or own an office or commercial space. And many client contracts include requirements for general liability insurance.

Even if these don’t apply to you, small businesses that work directly with clients and customers usually benefit from commercial general liability insurance, also known as a CGL policy. This insurance policy can keep your company financially stable if you’re sued by a customer or competitor.

Because general liability insurance provides such important coverage, most small business owners buy the policy right after they start their business.

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What does commercial general liability insurance cover?

General liability insurance provides coverage for common liability claims from third parties (people outside your business).

Commercial general liability insurance covers legal defense costs if someone sues over a bodily injury, property damage, or advertising injury. Your CGL policy can pay for everything from hiring a lawyer to court-ordered judgments and settlements.

Read more about what general liability insurance covers.

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General liability coverage is essential if your business:

  • Has a location that is open to the public
  • Works closely with customers or clients
  • Handles client property
  • Rents or owns commercial property

Is general liability insurance required by law?

Generally not, but states may mandate it for certain industries like construction. While general liability insurance isn’t typically required by law, it’s still likely required by your landlord, mortgage company, or clients.

A landlord or client may ask your business to show a certificate of insurance as proof of your general liability insurance coverage. This document verifies that your business can handle any personal injury or property damage lawsuits.

And more importantly, the certificate gives your property manager, bank, or customer peace of mind that they won’t be stuck paying the costs of a lawsuit against your company.

Find out more about when general liability insurance is required.

How does commercial general liability insurance protect my business?

General liability insurance can help pay for legal fees from common third-party lawsuits. Here are a few common situations where general liability coverage protects home businesses, contractors, and small businesses.

Home businessContractorSmall business
Liability protectionYou may need general liability to pay for a lawsuit from a courier who slips on your icy doorstep while delivering documents.A client may ask you to provide a certificate of insurance in case you damage their equipment.You sign a commercial lease and your landlord requires general liability insurance.
Advertising injury protectionYou launch a website and want protection against accidental copyright infringement.You want protection in case someone involved with a project accuses you of libel or slander.You launch your first advertising campaign and want protection against advertising injury lawsuits.

How do I get a general liability insurance policy?

You can start by filling out Insureon’s free online application for general liability insurance. To apply, you’ll need to provide a little basic information about your business. That includes your:

  • Business name
  • Business operations
  • Number of employees

Learn more about our general liability insurance application.

How much does general liability insurance cost?

General liability insurance cost is based on a few factors, including:

  • Amount of coverage
  • Industry and risk factors
  • Location
  • Number of employees

General liability insurance costs an average of $42 per month. This is based on the median cost of policies. And 17% of Insureon’s small business customers pay less than $25 per month for their policies.

How do I get proof of general liability insurance?

If you buy CGL coverage through Insureon, you can usually get proof of insurance online on the same day you start a business insurance policy.

Traditional insurance agents can take several weeks to send a certificate of general liability insurance to new customers. This can be an issue for a business owner who needs immediate proof of insurance to sign a pending contract.

With Insureon, you can provide proof quickly for the contract or lease you’re planning to sign.

Do independent contractors need general liability insurance?

Like any small business owner, independent contractors can be sued and held liable for customer injuries, customer property damage, or advertising injuries.

While contractors who don’t have a physical location or expensive equipment probably don’t need a business owner’s policy or commercial property insurance, they will still benefit from general liability insurance.

If you don’t want to purchase a general liability policy, you can ask your clients to add you to their policies as an additional insured. This will cover you for as long as you work for the client who insures you.

Keep in mind that your clients might pay a higher insurance premium if they add you to their general liability policies. And your coverage ends once the contract expires.

What if my business needs more liability coverage?

If your business has high risks or revenue, you can extend your general liability insurance coverage with commercial umbrella insurance. Umbrella insurance increases your maximum policy limit, meaning your insurance company can cover more expensive lawsuits.

Your business probably faces liability risks beyond what a general liability insurance covers. To get the protection you need, you can bundle these policies with general liability:

What is the difference between general liability and professional liability insurance?

General liability covers customer injuries, customer property damage, and advertising injuries. Professional liability insurance covers disputes over the quality of professional services.

Almost all businesses need general liability insurance. But businesses that provide professional services need added protection from mistakes and unhappy clients.

That’s where professional liability coverage comes in. This policy helps professionals like accountants and auditors, lawyers, consultants, and insurance agents avoid high costs from lawsuits related to the quality of your work.

Read more about general liability vs. professional liability insurance.


Find more answers to frequently asked questions about general liability insurance.

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Updated: June 29, 2022
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