Public liability insurance

An outdated terminology in the U.S. that refers to coverage for common accidents


What is public liability insurance?


Public liability insurance is business insurance that provides financial protection if you are held responsible for bodily injuries and damaged property that can occur in connection to your business.

What public liability insurance covers

Essentially, if there’s an accident related to your business — be it injury or property damage  — regardless of where it happens, a public liability insurance policy can help you out of a jam.

For example, if you own a convenience store and a customer has a slip-and-fall injury at your shop, public liability insurance would help cover their medical expenses.

Or, if you own a cleaning business and an employee accidentally knocks over an expensive vase, public liability coverage would help cover the cost of repair or replacement.

Plus, if someone decides to sue you, public liability insurance can help cover legal costs to defend yourself — and hopefully help reduce your out-of-pocket costs.

Public liability vs. general liability

As a small business owner, you might think, “That sounds a lot like general liability insurance,” and you’re not wrong.

General liability covers the incidents public liability does but then takes it a step further. While public liability only covers injury, damage, and court fees, general liability adds protections against claims of advertising harm and claims of libel, slander and defamation.

So if your business is sued for improper image use in an ad, public liability won’t help, but general liability will. Or if one of your employees bad mouths a client online and the client sues you, again, you won’t have help with public liability, but general liability can help pay legal fees to defend yourself.

Basically, general liability is upgraded public liability. General liability covers a broad spectrum of everyday business situations.

This is why you’ll rarely see a public liability policy offered by U.S. insurance companies. General liability covers businesses more completely and is the standard. It’s usually one of the first insurances a small business buys.

However, in the U.K., you’ll hardly ever see general liability policies offered because public liability is the standard for small businesses across the pond. So while you may hear someone say that public liability is simply the U.K.’s version of general liability, that’s not 100% right.

What public liability doesn’t cover

General liability is a more comprehensive insurance policy than public liability insurance coverage, but it’s important to point out the crucial things that neither of them covers.

During the course of business, if something happens to a customer, their property, a delivery person, or any other third party, these policies have you covered.

This leaves you, your staff, and everything that makes your business run uncovered by public and general liability policies. These insurances cover liability claims by members of the public.

Depending on your business needs, you might need to supplement a public liability policy with:

In a sense, public liability insurance is just one piece of a general liability policy, and a general liability policy is just one piece of a comprehensive small business insurance plan. Each of these types of business insurance protects a part of your business, and putting them together ensures you’re covered no matter what comes your way.

Piecing it together with NEXT

Insurance is divided into different policies, so you only pay for the coverage you need. At NEXT, we make putting together your business insurance plan easy with 24/7 access to manage your coverage. Plus, if you bundle two or more of our policies, you can save up to 10%.

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

Start your instant quote today.

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Let’s find the coverage you need for your business

Business insurance is divided into different policies. We offer seven types so it's easy to design the coverage that fits your business.

General Liability insurance
General Liability

Protect yourself from accidents that cause physical injury or damaged property.

Professional Liability or Error and Omissions Insurance
Professional Liability/E&O

Shield yourself from lawsuits that claim your work errors caused financial losses.

Workers' Compensation Insurance
Workers’ Compensation

Cover medical bills and lost wages if your employees have an accident at work.

Commercial Auto Insurance
Commercial Auto

Stay on the road with coverage for dents, tows and damage to someone else’s vehicle.

Tools & Equipment Insurance
Tools & Equipment

Upgrade your general liability coverage to protect any gear that’s stolen, damaged or lost.

Commercial Property Insurance
Commercial Property

Keep your building, inventory and equipment protected from fire or water damage.

Business Owner’s Policy Insurance
Business Owner’s Policy

Combine general liability and commercial property into one policy to protect your business.

Take a look at some helpful blog posts
Public Liability Insurance for Small Business: When and Why You Need It

Public Liability Insurance for Small Business: When and Why You Need It

Personal and Advertising Injury Coverage – Prepare for the Unexpected

Personal and Advertising Injury Coverage – Prepare for the Unexpected

Bodily injury vs. personal injury: what’s the difference?

Bodily injury vs. personal injury: what’s the difference?

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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.