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What is General Liability Insurance?
General Liability (GL) insurance, sometimes called small business insurance or commercial liability insurance, provides insurance coverage for your business against claims made by others including bodily injury, damage to property, or personal injury.
If someone comes to your place of business and is injured, a general liability policy could cover their medical costs. If someone else’s property is damaged and you are found to be responsible, the repair or replacement cost could be covered. And if someone’s reputation is damaged by something you or an employee said or wrote about them, the associated costs could be covered.
Why do I need General Liability Insurance?
As a small business owner, you may be legally responsible if another person gets hurt or if their property is damaged while at your business or because of something you did. Make sure your business is properly protected against risks or accidents. General liability insurance coverage protects your small business against claims by others of bodily injury or damage to their property. However, it does not protect your own personal property.
You should consider general liability insurance coverage if you or your employees:
- Interact with clients face to face - If you visit a client’s place of work, or clients visit yours, there is always the possibility someone could get hurt and require medical treatment.
- Have access to customer’s property - If you own a cleaning company and one of your employees breaks a vase while vacuuming a carpet at a customer’s home, general liability insurance could cover the cost of the vase.
- Use advertising to market your company - If you promote your company and accidently use wording that is under copyright or trademark, general liability insurance could cover you if a claim occurs.
- Use third-party locations for any business related activities - For example, architects should make sure that they’re covered with architects’ general liability insurance for injury or damage that might happen at a job site.
- Enter into contracts that required general liability insurance - For example, many construction companies must have general liability insurance in order to be eligible to be awarded certain contracts.
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How much does General Liability Insurance cost?
The cost of general liability insurance coverage varies based on the size of your small business, the industry you are in, your location, and the amount of coverage you need. For more information on the cost of general liability insurance coverage, visit our cost page.
What does General Liability Insurance cover?
Even with careful planning and the best precautions, accidents and injuries can still happen on the job. Say, for example, one of your clients trips and falls over a bag you left on the floor. Or maybe an accident occurs while on a client’s premises. If your client is injured and if you’re legally liable, our commercial general liability insurance for business can cover claims by third parties for their bodily injury.
Many companies are at risk for this type of claim, making commercial general liability insurance for small business a good choice for them. This is a useful type of insurance for construction, architecture, and engineering professionals to have due to the various injuries that can occur to others on job sites. Contractors, such as carpenters, painters, and plumbers, can also benefit from a general liability insurance policy.
Since bodily injuries are common while exercising, personal trainers, yoga studio owners, and other fitness professionals should also have a general liability insurance policy in place to protect themselves. Even a business consultant who works in a corporate setting can benefit from general liability insurance for business in case a client stumbles and falls in the consultant’s office and later files a bodily injury lawsuit.
These are just a few of the many common examples of how a Hiscox general liability insurance policy can protect small business owners from bodily injury claims and lawsuits.
Damage to Third-Party Property
Property damage, whether caused by you or one of your employees, can create huge expenses that you may be responsible for. We offer coverage for damages to another person or business' property as part of our commercial general liability insurance for small business. Note that covered claims are for damages to someone else’s property that you are legally liable for and not for your own property.
General liability insurance coverage is useful in situations like these:
- A building inspector accidentally knocks over an artisan glass window pane while making her way back to the truck. If the piece shatters and the client demands reimbursement plus delivery costs, it is important for the building inspector's employer to have coverage for the claim up to the policy’s limits of liability.
- A personal trainer is conducting an at-home workout session for a client and accidentally knocks over a laptop while teaching a new routine. Third-party property damage coverage may protect the personal trainer from a claim by the laptop’s owner for their property damage.
When an accident occurs, it can be difficult to determine an estimated cost of another person’s property to assess the financial damage that may result. This is why it’s wise to protect yourself and your business with a general small business liability insurance policy.
If you run a construction business, for example, and have employees who are out to lunch and talking about one of your clients in a false and unflattering way, you could be sued for slander. At Hiscox, we may cover the subsequent claim, up to your commercial general liability policy's limits of liability, and pay for an attorney to defend you, if needed. Situations like this could also arise if you operate a personal training business, Pilates studio, massage therapy business, spa, or hair salon. Whether you personally commit the act of libel or slander or your employees do, your business could suffer significant financial loss from having to defend or pay for a claim that arises out of the situation if you don’t have general liability insurance for business.
Our general liability insurance for business provides protection against the unintentional use of a third party's idea if it was used as part of your advertising. We may also protect you if your advertisement or marketing materials infringe upon a third party’s copyright or trade slogan.
We also provide advertising injury coverage to professionals in fields like control systems integration, engineers, project management, and acupuncture services. Advertising injury coverage also extends to art therapists, barbers, beauticians, and estheticians, among a multitude of other professionals in varying industries. In some instances, a separate personal/advertising injury limit may apply.
Electronic Data Liability
Property damage can occur in many forms, including to electronic data, as well as physical property. We added electronic data liability to our list of what’s covered under a commercial general liability insurance policy to protect a wider range of consultants and technology service providers.
For example, suppose an IT professional damages a computer server while working for a client. The client’s electronic data is damaged and cannot be recovered, prompting the client to sue the IT professional for their electronic data loss. In this instance, we would cover any damages up to the IT professional's limits of liability. As part of our general liability insurance for business consultants, we offer $25,000 in electronic data liability coverage, in addition to coverage for damages for premises rented and a separate personal/advertising injury limit. This is also the level of coverage that we offer education consultants, human resource consultants, marketing/media consultants, and other professionals for electronic data liability.
In some cases, electronic data can be just as valuable or even more so than office furniture, supplies, and infrastructure in a business environment. Choosing Hiscox for your consulting and technology insurance needs will allow us to protect you against electronic data liability claims.
If an accident occurs and someone other than you or your employees is injured, your Hiscox business general liability insurance policy may cover associated medical expenses for each injured person, up to $5,000 per person.
Bodily injury can occur on the job in many different industries including carpentry, HVAC contracting, construction, and electrical work. For example, a client could trip and fall over your ladder, resulting in a broken bone. Injuries could also occur in therapy professions that offer massages, such as when a client leans on the headrest of a massage table, causing it to snap off and him to fall to the ground. Or a Zumba instructor could place her gym bag on the ground before class, and a student trips over it and strains a muscle.
In all of these hypothetical situations, a small business could be sued for the medical expenses that result from injuries. Medical expenses can easily soar to thousands of dollars, even for injuries that appear to be minor. Protect yourself and your business with a commercial general liability insurance policy.
Legal fees can easily soar into the thousands of dollars if you don’t have a plan in place for your defense. If you are sued for a general liability claim, we will appoint a lawyer if necessary, even if the lawsuit is groundless.
Defense costs can put a serious strain on small businesses, such as salons, spas, therapists, and freelancers. Other professions that frequently benefit from defense cost coverage as part of our general liability insurance policies include architects, accountants, insurance agents, photographers, electricians, audiologists, computer programmers, graphic designers, hypnotherapists, and landscapers.
We will cover defense costs on your behalf without reducing your limit of liability. If you’re running a small business, you can’t afford to not have general liability insurance to pay for high legal fees in connection with legitimate or frivolous claims made against you or your business.
Actions of Your Full-Time Employees and Temporary Staff
At Hiscox, our general liability insurance coverage extends not just to actions of your full-time employees, but to temporary staff as well. Here are some examples:
- An employee of a real estate brokerage firm accidentally drives a stake through a water line while putting up a For Sale sign and causes serious damage to a homeowner’s lawn.
- A yoga instructor who works for a yoga studio is teaching a class where a student loses his balance, falls into a mirror, and injures himself.
- After having a few drinks at the bar, a computer programmer’s assistant talks loudly about an executive at a client company.
In all of these examples, your business could be sued due to the actions of an employee, regardless of whether the employee is full-time or temporary. We can help you stay protected with liability insurance for small business.
If a claim is filed against your business, there are many expenses that can follow, and many that you may not know to expect. As small business insurance experts, we are well aware of all of the hidden expenses and extra fees that commonly come along with defending you and your business against claims, and we’re ready to put our expertise to work for your benefit. This includes:
- If one of your clients, a business, or another third-party files a claim against you, we may cover legal defense costs if incurred.
- We may also cover up to $250 per day for the loss of your earnings and pay for reasonable expenses you incur as a result of assisting us in the investigation of the claim against you.
- We also provide interest on damage awards as part of our general liability insurance policies
These are examples of hidden costs that may arise and add up if you’re not working with an insurance company that understands the toll that claims and lawsuits take on business owners. Whether you work in IT, marketing, therapy, health, fitness, contracting, beauty, engineering, or another vertical, we are here for you.
Worldwide Insurance Coverage
Hiscox covers claims that are brought in the United States, its territories, and Canada. The incident that resulted in the claim may have occurred anywhere in the world.
This is important to professionals who need to work in various places as a normal course of business, such as architects, engineers, and management consultants. Health professionals, such as acupuncturists, acupressurists, and massage therapists may also benefit from worldwide insurance coverage in the event they need to travel for retreats, expos, or for individual client requests. Event planners, public relations professionals, and promoters who consistently travel abroad for clients can also benefit from our worldwide insurance coverage. Although we insure for claims that arise from actions worldwide, the claim must be brought in the United States, Canada, or US Territories.
We can accommodate the commercial general liability insurance needs of a multitude of professions spanning across all verticals. If you have any questions about our geographical coverage or the requirements to file a claim, please contact us. We’d be happy to tell you about the span of our coverage for business professionals and how to make the most of your small business liability insurance coverage.
What Hiscox General Liability Insurance policy doesn't cover
We want our customers to understand our general liability insurance policy. Below is a summary of some of the key exclusions regarding our general liability insurance coverage. For complete details of all the exclusions, please read the policy wording.
Personally Identifiable Information
We do not cover your failure to protect any personally identifiable information that is in your care, custody or control. This includes information such as names, addresses, social security numbers, email addresses and other sensitive information about customers, prospects, vendors or others.
Use of Vehicles and Boats
We do not cover any claims arising out of the ownership or use of an automobile, aircraft or watercraft.
We do not cover damage to property you own or the property of others in your care, custody or control.
We do not cover any professional services performed by you. For example, claims for improper advice are not covered under general liability. To obtain coverage for your services, please see our information about professional liability insurance.
If one of your employees injures themselves on the job this will not be covered under your general liability insurance. To obtain coverage for on-the-job employee injury, please see our information about workers compensation insurance.
Learn more about General Liability Insurance
At Hiscox, we know small business insurance can be a complex subject. We’ve put together a video to explain more about general liability insurance. View the general liability insurance video.
Do you have specific questions about general liability insurance? We've compiled answers to some common questions people frequently ask about general liability insurance. Visit our general liability FAQs page.
Get Liability Insurance that best meets your needs
General liability insurance will not protect you from everything. For example, general liability insurance will not cover you against claims of negligence, even if it isn’t you or your business’ fault. Some people buy other business liability insurance along with general liability.
Why choose Hiscox?
- Flexible payment options: We offer you the option of making monthly payments (with no additional fees) to help you manage your cash flow.
- Tailored insurance: We specialize in businesses like yours and tailor coverage to the risks in your field.
- Claims responsiveness: When a covered claim is reported, we will immediately defend you even if the claim has no basis and, if necessary, appoint an attorney.
- Coverage for contracts: Our liability insurance coverage satisfies most standard contract insurance requirements.
- Worldwide coverage: We protect you for work done by your business anywhere in the world, as long as the covered claim is filed in the United States, a U.S. territory or Canada.
- Passion for service: Agents knowledgeable about your business concerns will provide you with excellent service – 4.7/5 of people surveyed recommended us.
Hiscox Customer Reviews
Marjorie, Miami, Florida
Prompt and efficient customer service
Peter, Naples, FL
"Painless experience! It was very easy to get the coverage that was needed. I would definitely recommend this to others in small business."
Jason, Danville, VA
Super easy. Good rate too.
Andrew Thomas Clifton, Chicago, Illinois
Simple. Some of the site was a bit overpacked and it slightly overwhelmed me at times but everything else was great
Leveda, Medora, Indiana
Fast and friendly service
This information is provided to assist you in understanding the coverage we offer and does not modify the terms and conditions of any insurance policy, nor does it imply that any claim is covered. Specific coverage terms can vary by class of business. Coverages are subject to underwriting and may not be available in all states.