General liability insurance is the most common type of insurance for small businesses and the self-employed because it can protect you from accidents that can happen at almost every business:
We’ll cover each category in more detail on this page.
Accidents are not 100% unavoidable, and unfortunately, some accidents cause physical harm to people who come into contact with you, your employees, and your business.
For example, you put your toolbox down on the sidewalk for a few moments while you’re loading your van in the morning. A jogger doesn’t see it, trips, and breaks an arm. In this case, you could be sued for medical costs, and if you don’t have general liability insurance, you would need to pay out of pocket to cover any related expenses.
Lawsuits related to an injury generally fall under three categories that are covered by general liability insurance:
General liability insurance can help pay for an injured person’s medical expenses up to your policy limit, excluding employees and yourself. The amount and extent of coverage is determined on a case-by-case basis depending on the policy you purchase.
Loss of income
If you are ruled responsible for an injury and the injured person is forced to miss work, your insurance would cover their loss of income.
Pain and suffering
In some cases, your policy can also cover claims related to pain and suffering, which refers to the physical or mental strain that can occur as a result of the accident.
Your general liability insurance policy covers you for damage that you cause to someone’s property. The best general liability insurance for small business includes both significant and less serious accidents.
Here are some examples:
You didn’t see a small rock during your pre-inspection of a lawn you are mowing. When your mower goes over it, the rock goes airborne and shatters a large plate-glass window. The client insists that you pay for the replacement cost.
You park your van in an office parking lot for a renovation construction project. As you’re taking out your tools, you slip and scratch the CEO’s shiny red Porsche. You have to pay for the cost of getting the entire car repainted at a certified dealer.
Your beautician assistant is giving a client a manicure and drops the bottle of nail polish. It smashes on the floor, splashing scarlet nail polish all over the client’s expensive Gucci handbag. The client wants you to pay for a replacement bag.
Personal and advertising injury claims usually occur when you’re accused of invading someone’s privacy, copyright or advertising infringement, and defamation of character.
Learn more about each category with these examples:
Breach of Privacy
After renovating a client’s old bathroom, you take some pictures and use them on your website as an example of your work. Your client sees the photos and gets very upset. They sue you for breaching their privacy by using photos of their home without permission.
Your flyers about your personal trainer business refer to you as ‘“The Rock.” The celebrity Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson sees them and his management team sues you for copyright infringement because you used his signature nickname.
Defamation of Character
Your new marketing campaign name checks your biggest competitor and claims that he offers substandard services that don’t follow local regulations. The business owner sues you for defamation of character because he claims your campaign is untrue.
Your general business liability policy covers many different situations, but it doesn’t cover everything. You might need to buy other types of liability insurance, depending on your business.
If you are a contractor or own a cleaning business, you can add tools & equipment coverage to protect your gear if it is damaged or stolen.
General liability insurance does not cover professional mistakes. For that, you’ll need professional liability insurance, also known as errors and omissions insurance. It can cover associated costs when a client claims you gave bad advice, made a mistake, or missed a deadline and caused financial harm.
In most states, if you have employees, you are legally required to have workers’ compensation insurance. A workers’ comp policy will cover medical bills for work-related injuries or illnesses, lost wages, and important liability protections for your business.
Most personal auto insurance policies won’t cover you for injuries or damages if you are driving for business purposes. You are required by law in most states to have commercial auto insurance if you or your employees use a business-owned vehicle.