Someone trips at your business, breaks their leg and files a lawsuit. Excluding employees.
You accidentally damage a client or customer’s property.
You need an attorney to defend your business in a lawsuit after a claim.
Someone (excluding employees) gets injured and asks you to pay for medical expenses.
An employee bad-mouths a client online and the client sues you.
You’re sued for improper image use in your advertising.
General liability insurance can provide financial protection for some of the most common accidents at a business.
It can help if someone other than an employee gets hurt and your business is at fault. This is called “bodily injury.”
General liability insurance coverage can also help pay for repair or replacement costs if you accidentally damage property that doesn't belong to you.
And if you’re accused of reputational harm (libel or slander), false advertising (advertising injury) or copyright infringement, your insurance policy can provide coverage for that, too.
It’s one of the most frequently purchased types of business insurance by small business owners because of the broad protection it offers.
This type of coverage is also sometimes called “business liability insurance,” “commercial general liability (CGL),” “public liability” or “liability insurance.” For the sake of simplicity, we’ll just call it general liability in the details below.
General liability is included in many business insurance packages because it can help cover the risks that many small business owners face every day.
It’s not typically required by law, but some clients and agencies could ask you to have a certificate of insurance before they work with you.
Here are some examples of how different types of businesses are protected from liability risks with a general liability insurance policy:
Artisan contractors and other construction professionals are often required to have general liability to get professional licenses or work on certain jobs. That’s because there’s a risk of injury to other people and property damage in the work they do.
Restaurants and food service
Slip-and-fall accidents are a risk that food business owners worry about. General liability can help cover medical payments and lawsuit expenses. Some businesses can also add liquor liability or employer liability for more coverage.
Retail and e-commerce
Personal trainers might need to be a policyholder for some professional certifications, and it can be required if they work at a gym.
General liability can protect cleaners from financial losses if they accidentally break or damage property at a job.
If you want to rent commercial property you might also be required to have coverage as part of your commercial lease.
We’ve already looked at some of the important protections business liability can offer after an accident.
Now, let’s look at some benefits it can provide in your day-to-day (hopefully accident-free) operations.
Having business liability insurance shows clients that your business is trustworthy and that you will take responsibility for your mistakes. That’s why some business owners advertise that they are insured.
It could give you a competitive advantage if a potential client has a choice between your business and another business that doesn’t have insurance.
Many larger clients also require coverage before they’ll sign a contract with you.
Some states and cities will only give you a business permit if you have an active general liability insurance policy and a certificate of insurance.
You might be required to keep your insurance active if your business is certified or accredited by a professional organization.
Property owners may ask to see your certificate of insurance if you plan to lease commercial space.
Business liability is often required because it shows you will have financial protection that can help cover expenses related to customer injuries at your leased space.
Business liability insurance can give you peace of mind.
You can have protection if a client trips and falls or you accidentally damage a customer's expensive property.
General liability insurance can help protect you from unexpected expenses related to many of the most common types of accidents that can affect your business and lead to lawsuits, such as:
Learn more about what general liability covers.
General liability insurance costs are different for each business. It can cost as little as $11 monthly for some low-risk businesses.
Several factors influence the price you’ll pay for insurance, including:
Learn more about general liability costs and the median price different industries typically pay.
You can purchase affordable general liability insurance and get your certificate of insurance in less than 10 minutes with NEXT’s easy online process.
Start an instant general liability insurance quote to see options for your small business. Here’s how the process works:
We’ll ask you some basic questions about your business and operations, including:
After that, you’ll have a customized insurance quote for general liability and other recommended coverage.
If you like what you see, you can adjust the package limits and make your purchase.
Your coverage will begin immediately after payment and you’ll have access to your certificate of insurance.
General liability can provide important financial protection for your business after an accident, but it usually doesn’t protect businesses from all the risks they face.
It's important to consider other types of coverage when exploring your business insurance options and deciding on your risk management plan. For example:
Other types of liability coverage
Professional liability insurance can help protect your business from losses after a professional mistake.
Most states require workers’ compensation if you have employees. It can help cover medical expenses and lost wages after an employee’s workplace accident.
Learn more about workers’ compensation insurance.
Commercial property insurance
This coverage can help pay for a replacement or repair for your business property. General liability only over property that doesn’t belong to you.
Learn more about commercial property insurance.
We’ll walk you through the differences and similarities between General Liability insurance and other types of business insurance policies to help you make the best choice for your business.
If you don’t find the answers you’re looking for, our licensed insurance advisors are standing by to help.
General liability insurance is often the first type of coverage purchased by new business owners, but it’s not typically required by law.
However, some agencies might require coverage before issuing a professional license or permit. This is common in construction.
Clients might also ask for proof of insurance before they will work with you.
This question comes up a lot. That’s why we wrote a detailed overview of general liability vs. professional liability.
Here’s a quick overview:
Professional liability insurance and general liability insurance offer similar benefits but there is one major difference — professional liability insurance can help cover professional mistakes and accusations of neglect. It's often related to advice you provide to a client or customer, not accidents in the workplace.
General liability insurance can provide financial protection for accidents that are more physical, such as property damage and injuries involving people who are not your employees.
Learn more about the difference between professional liability and general liability.
General liability aggregate is a common insurance industry term you'll run into when exploring options for this coverage.
It's the maximum amount of money an insurance company will pay out during your policy period, which is usually one year.
If your business has expensive claims, you might hit your aggregate limit. In that case, you would be responsible for paying out of pocket to cover the remaining expenses.
Note that the aggregate limit is different from the “per occurrence” limit, which is the maximum amount your policy pays out per claim within the term of your policy.
For example, if you have a general aggregate liability limit of $300,000 and you’ve already made three claims in your policy term (usually a year) for $100,000 each, you’ve reached your aggregate limit and your insurance company won’t cover any additional claims.
It’s important to know your aggregate limit when you purchase general liability insurance. If you exceed your limit during your policy term, you will be responsible for paying for any expenses out of pocket that exceed the limit.
Learn more about aggregate limit of liability.
General liability insurance can cover expenses related to property damage, but only to property that does not belong to you.
Commercial property insurance can help protect the physical items you need to operate your business:
A business owner’s policy (BOP insurance) combines general liability insurance and commercial property insurance into one package that is usually less expensive than buying the coverage separately.
Learn more about BOP insurance.
General liability insurance does not cover automobile liability or any expenses related to business or personal driving.
Commercial auto insurance can help cover expenses If you drive for business reasons:
Learn more about commercial auto coverage.
General liability insurance doesn’t cover the theft of your own possessions but it might cover the theft of customer property.
If you’re repairing a garage door for a homeowner and someone steals her bike while you’re out back, general liability could help pay for a replacement.
But if any of your personal or business items are stolen, you won’t be covered without additional insurance.
You can bundle tools & equipment insurance with your NEXT Insurance general liability coverage if you are a contractor or own a cleaning business.
If you’re a contractor or own a cleaning business, tools & equipment insurance can protect your belongings if they are damaged or stolen.
General liability alone won’t provide tools and equipment coverage.
You might consider adding tools and equipment coverage if you work frequently at different locations because it will provide financial protection for your equipment wherever you go.
For example, if there’s a water leak at the new house you’re building and your power tools get soaked, your insurance could help pay for new tools.
Learn more about tools & equipment insurance.
General liability insurance can help pay for expenses if your business is accused of causing an injury, but injuries to you or your employee are not included.
Workers’ compensation insurance can help pay for medical expenses and lost wages if an employee is hurt on the job.
Most states legally require you to purchase coverage as soon as you hire an employee. It also provides benefits for business owners if they get hurt on the job if they purchase optional business owner’s coverage..
Learn more about workers’ compensation insurance.
General liability insurance premiums can typically be deducted from your taxes. It’s important to consult with a licensed accounting professional to make sure you qualify.
The IRS categorizes payments you make for this type of insurance to be both an “ordinary and necessary” business expense so be sure to keep a file of how much you pay every year for your policy.
Our small business insurance isn’t one-size-fits-all. Each business is unique and has different insurance needs.
The coverage you need depends on several factors, including:
With NEXT, it can take less than 10 minutes to purchase coverage and you’ll have instant access to policy documents and your certificate of insurance (COI).
Learn more about our digital certificate of insurance.
You can file a claim anytime and from anywhere online or in the NEXT app..
You’ll be asked to share the details of what happened and to provide relevant photos and documentation. We strive to make claims decisions within 48 hours so you can get back to focusing on your work.
Check out our claims page for more details.
Often, claims decisions are made within 48 hours, although some claims require more time.
The specific details of the claim, how bad the damage is, how many people are involved, the availability of information and other factors all contribute to the decision process.
Business insurance is divided into different policies. We offer seven types so it's easy to design the coverage that fits your business.