Commercial general liability insurance

Learn what general commercial liability insurance is, what it covers, and how it can be an asset to your small business.

Matt Crawford
By Matt Crawford
Published Oct 16, 2023
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Table of contents:

What is commercial general liability insurance?

Commercial general liability insurance is a type of business insurance that can provide financial protection for some of the most common risks that happen at a business, including:

What does commercial general liability insurance cover?

Commercial general liability insurance helps protect you when you are accused of harm or damage by a third-party, aka, someone not associated with your business.

Commercial general liability will not help if an employee gets injured (that’s workers’ comp) or if you accidentally damage your own equipment (that’s commercial property insurance).

However, for accidental harm or damage to a third-party or their belongings, commercial general liability insurance can help with a wide range of risks:

Slip and fall injuries

Someone slips on a wet floor at your business, breaks their arm, and files a lawsuit.

Property damage

While working in a client’s house, you accidentally break an expensive window.

Legal fees and defense costs

When facing a lawsuit, you might need an attorney to defend yourself in court even if you’re not at fault for the accident or damage.

Medical payments

If you’re found responsible for a customer’s injuries, you’ll need to pay their bills.

Reputational harm

A competitor accuses you of bad-mouthing them online and decides to sue.

Advertising injury

A photographer sues you for using their picture in an ad without permission.

Commercial general liability insurance can help cover all of these expenses and more.

How much does commercial general liability insurance cost?

NEXT’s commercial general liability insurance can cost as little as $11 monthly for some businesses or $128 annually**. The exact price you’ll pay for your business depends on several factors, including your business location and operations.

Just answer a few questions with our instant quote process and we’ll share pricing options for your business.

You can get complete insurance coverage in minutes, and licensed advisors are ready to help.

Learn more about general liability insurance cost.

Who needs commercial general liability insurance?

Almost every business can benefit from a commercial general liability insurance policy. It is often the first type of insurance small businesses purchase because of its broad coverage.

This type of coverage is also known as business liability insurance, public liability insurance, or most frequently, general liability insurance.

While it’s not often required by law, your business might need commercial general liability insurance to be licensed or certified.

Clients or partners may ask you to have commercial liability coverage and may ask to see your certificate of liability insurance before they agree to work with you.

Across industries, commercial general liability insurance can help protect against a variety of liability risks:

Construction trades

Contractors and other construction professionals are often required to have commercial general liability to get professional licenses or work on certain jobs.

Restaurants and food service

Slip and fall accidents and food poisoning are two common risks that restaurant owners worry about.

Commercial general liability can help cover medical bills and lawsuit expenses after an accident or illness. General liability policies can be expanded with a rider to include liquor liability if you’re serving alcohol.

Retail and e-commerce

Retail business owners can benefit from the protection commercial general liability can provide if a customer gets injured. NEXT policies also include some protection for product liability.

Fitness professionals

Personal trainers might need proof of a commercial general liability policy to get professional certifications. Plus, commercial general liability coverage might be required before a gym will let you work in their space.

Cleaning businesses

Accidents happen when you’re making things sparkling clean, commercial general liability can help protect you from financial losses if you accidentally damage a customer’s property or cause an injury at a job.

Why commercial general liability insurance is important

Generally speaking, the first reason businesses purchase commercial general liability coverage is to get help financially should an accident happen. Even if you stay accident-free, commercial general liability insurance has benefits beyond insurance coverage:

More jobs

Having commercial general liability insurance shows clients and potential partners that your business is fiscally responsible and will be able to manage things should an accident occur. This is why many larger clients require proof of insurance before they’ll hire you.

Business owners will advertise that they are insured because it gives them a competitive advantage. After all, if you had a choice between an insured business and one without, which would you hire?

Maintaining compliance

Depending on where you do business, your city or state might require you to have an active commercial general liability insurance policy and a certificate of liability insurance before they issue a business permit.

In addition, many certifications and professional organizations require you to keep your insurance active to keep your credentials valid.

Sign a lease

Property managers may ask to see your general liability certificate of insurance before they sign a contract with you — especially if you plan to have customers in your space.

Grow your business

Commercial general liability insurance can give you peace of mind knowing that you have coverage for some of the most common accidents that happen at any business.

You can focus on pleasing your customers and growing your business without worrying about what you’ll do should an accident occur.

How NEXT helps small businesses

Commercial general liability insurance can benefit nearly every type of business, but not every type of business needs the exact same coverage.

That’s why NEXT offers tailored policies for over 1,300 different types of businesses. That way you get the coverage you need at an affordable price.

You can start a quote, customize your options and access your certificate of insurance online — in about 10 minutes.

Start your instant quote today.

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Matt Crawford
About the author

Matt Crawford leads NEXT's content team. He's a small business insurance specialist and has worked with business owners throughout his career as a community journalist and content marketer.

You can find him at one of his many favorite local restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area when he's not at work.

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* To the extent permitted by law, applicants are individually underwritten, not all applicants may qualify. Individual rates and savings vary and are subject to change. Discounts and savings are available where state laws and regulations allow, and may vary by state. Certain discounts apply to specific coverages only.
** The cost data presented here are based on NEXT active customers in the U.S. who purchased general liability insurance over the previous 12 months. These data should not be considered a substitute for obtaining a quote specific to your business. These data were updated in July 2022.
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Issuance of coverage is subject to underwriting. Not available in all states. Please see the policy for full terms, conditions and exclusions. Coverage examples are for illustrative purposes only. Your policy documents govern, terms and exclusions apply. Coverage is dependent on actual facts and circumstances giving rise to a claim. Next Insurance, Inc. and/or its affiliates is an insurance agency licensed to sell certain insurance products and may receive compensation from insurance companies for such sales. Policy obligations are the sole responsibility of the issuing insurance company. Refer to Legal Notices section for additional information.

Any starting prices or premiums represented before an actual customer quote are not guaranteed and are representations of existing premiums of active policies as of December 6, 2023. To the extent permitted by law, applicants are individually underwritten, not all applicants may qualify. Individual rates and savings vary and are subject to change. Discounts and savings are available where state laws and regulations allow, and may vary by state. Certain discounts apply to specific coverages only.