General Liability Insurance

The basic protection for claims against your business.

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What is General Liability Insurance?

General Liability (GL) insurance, sometimes called small business liability 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.

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 a customer’s property is damaged at your location or at a job site, general liability insurance could cover the cost to repair or replace it.

Use advertising to market your company

If you promote your company and accidentally use wording that is under copyright or trademark, general liability insurance could cover you if a claim occurs.

Use third-party locations for business related activities

If someone (other than you or an employee) is injured on a job site where you are responsible, general liability insurance could cover their medical costs.

Require coverage in order to be considered for a project

If you propose or bid on certain contracts, liability insurance could be a condition of the contract award.

How much does General Liability Insurance cost?

The cost of general liability insurance coverage varies based on the size of your 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.

  IT Consultant Business Consultant
State CA TX
Annual Payroll $100,000 $200,000
Per occurrence limit $500,000 $1,000,000
Aggregate limit $2,000,000 $2,000,000
Deductible $0 $0
Monthly Cost $29.17/mo. $29.17/mo.
Annual Cost $350 $350

Example of general liability costs by profession and location

What does General Liability Insurance cover?

Bodily Injury

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.

If you meet with customers or vendors face to face, you need general liability insurance coverage. Whether you do your work in an office or storefront, or at your client’s location, general liability insurance coverage can protect you from these types of claims and lawsuits. 

Medical Expenses

If an accident occurs and someone other than you or an employee 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.

Damage to Someone Else's 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 the property of another person or business 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 their 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.
  • 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.

Personal Injury

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. Whether you personally commit the act of libel or slander or your employee does, 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.

Advertising Injury

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.

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, 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. 

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.

Defense Costs

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.

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 spreads untrue rumors 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.

Supplemental Payments

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.

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. Coverage is subject to underwriting, terms, conditions, and limits of the policy.

General Liability Insurance FAQs

At Hiscox, we know business insurance can be a complex subject. Below, we’ve compiled answers to some common questions people frequently ask about general liability insurance.

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.

What is commercial general liability insurance?

Commercial general liability (CGL), also known as general liability insurance, is a business insurance policy that provides coverage for personal injury, bodily injury and property damage to third-parties sustained as a result of business operations, products or services. It also covers injuries that occur on the business's property. While considered to be a comprehensive insurance policy, it does not cover 100% of the risks that a business may encounter during its lifespan. Many companies choose to purchase additional insurance, such as that which protects against employment practice liabilities like discrimination and wrongful termination.

What does general liability insurance cover?

General liability covers property damage, claims of bodily injury and any associated medical costs, as well as electronic data liability and damage sustained to a third-party property. Libel and slander are commonly covered as well. If your business is sued, you can use general liability insurance to cover legal fees and settlements. Advertising injury, attorney fees, court costs and administration fees typically fall under general liability insurance, too.

All coverage types: 

●    Bodily injury 
●    Damage to third party property 
●    Personal injury 
●    Advertising injury 
●    Electronic data liability - dependent on industry
●    Medical expenses 
●    Defense costs 
●    Actions of your full-time employees and temporary staff 
●    Supplemental payments

Does general liability insurance cover theft?

It is a common misconception that general liability insurance covers theft of one’s own business property. Liability insurance typically covers only third party losses for which your business may bear some form of negligence. Since theft is considered a first party loss, general liability coverage does not extend to the theft of your own business property.

Is general liability insurance available in my state?

We currently offer our insurance products in many states across the U.S. – view our general liability insurance state page for details.

Not in your state? Even if we don’t currently offer our products direct and online in your state, we can still help. We have access to insurance broker specialists across the U.S. who may be able to assist you. Contact one of our licensed advisors at 1-866-283-7545 (Monday – Friday, 7am – 10pm ET) today.

How much does general liability insurance cost?

While costs for general liability insurance vary, most small businesses pay approximately $30 per month or less. Only 1% of businesses incur coverage costs of $1,000 or more per month. Factors that can influence pricing for general liability insurance include the size, industry and location of a business; the selected limits also impact overall costs. Employing strong risk management strategies can help to reduce the cost of general liability insurance, as can having a home-based business or purchasing additional insurance products.

Also, if your business actively manages its risk, then it is the type of business we like to reward with rate reductions. We’ll ask you about this during the quote-and-buy process.

We will also offer up to a 5% rate reduction if you buy two or more Hiscox insurance products from us.

How do I calculate a general liability insurance premium?

There are several factors that can influence the cost of a general liability insurance premium, many of which relate to the likelihood that a claim might be made. These factors include business size, location and industry, as well as things like turnover and what coverage you’ve opted to include or not to include in your policy. Insurance premiums also depend on the type of work your business conducts, which is why it's essential to work with a team like ours to get an accurate and tailored general liability insurance quote.

Is general liability insurance required by law?

In order to operate legally, there are a few types of insurances that businesses must have, including vehicle insurance (for businesses with company vehicles) and, in some states, workers compensation. However, it is not required by law that a business purchase general liability insurance. That said, general liability is highly recommended for all businesses. Should litigation occur, attorney fees and court costs can be inexplicably high—general liability insurance can cover your business against these and other financial burdens. 

What is an additional insured on general liability insurance?

An additional insured is any additional person or company that is added to the business’s general liability insurance policy. They are named on the certificate and must be different from the policyholder. While individuals are often named as additional insured, groups may also qualify for this title. The additional insured's coverage is usually not as extensive as that of the policy holder. However, significant protection such as defense coverage and coverage for third-party lawsuits usually applies to additionally insured entities. Coverage for additional groups or individuals runs for as long as the additional insured is performing services for the policyholder.

Can I get general liability insurance today?

Yes. We know many clients will ask you to have a minimum level of general liability insurance coverage before they’ll even begin a business relationship with you. Typically, they’ll want to have proof you have $1 million of general liability in place. That may mean you need it now. We can do that.

Hiscox can provide this for you direct and online, or you can call one of our licensed advisors at 1-866-283-7545 (Monday – Friday, 7am – 10pm ET). Once the application process is completed, your policy will be issued via email. You’ll receive your certificate of insurance in the welcome documents, which you can then email to your client as proof of insurance.

What payment options exist for my general liability policy?

Several. Hiscox offers a range of payment options, including debit and credit cards (Visa, MasterCard and American Express). You may also choose to pay the full amount in one lump sum each year or to pay monthly (with no additional fees) over time.

What general liability coverage limits do you offer?

We offer a wide range of general liability limits starting from $300,000 to $2,000,000. Clients often ask for a minimum of $1 million of coverage, but this can vary depending on the size of the organization and project you are working on. If you need more coverage or you’re not sure what limit is right for your business, call one of our licensed advisors at 1-866-283-7545 (Monday – Friday, 7am – 10pm ET) we’ll help guide you according to your specific business needs.

What deductible options do you offer?

There is no deductible with our general liability insurance policy. You can quickly get a general liability insurance quote online and select different deductible amounts to see how they affect your premium, or call one of our licensed advisors at 1-866-283-7545 (Monday – Friday, 7am – 10pm ET).

What should I do if I need to make a general liability claim?

Call us. It doesn’t matter what time or day it is, you can report a covered claim 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All you need to do is call us now at 1-866-283-7545. We’ll assign a dedicated claims representative to you. If necessary, we’ll appoint a lawyer on your behalf.

Visit our small business insurance claims page for more information.

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 your or your business’ fault. Some people buy other business liability insurance along with general liability.

  • General

    The basic protection for claims against your business.

  • Professional
    Liability (E&O)

    Protection for specific risks in your field.

  • Business
    Owners Policy

    General Liability plus coverage for property.

  • Cyber

    Protection from cyber-related security risks.

  • Short-Term

    Purchase coverage for a specific period of time.

  • Medical
    Malpractice (E&O)

    Protection for claims against your medical practice.

  • Workers

    Protection for employees who are injured or become ill on the job.

  • More

    Umbrella, Auto, Directors and Officers, and more.

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Why over 400,000 small businesses choose Hiscox

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    Policies customized just for you.

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    Fast quotes, instant coverage, quick claims.

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Customer reviews

  • Emanual

    Easy Self Maintenance Policy
    Up & running in less than 10 minutes. Never had a claim so all is great so far.

    5 star review
  • Aaron

    Get’s no better
    Quick and easy approval process, Very affordable with quality business, HIGHLY RECOMMEND.

    5 star review
  • Jan

    I will use Hiscox again and again! :)
    Quick and easy online service.

    5 star review
  • Teresa

    Great customer service.
    Customer service was very friendly and knowledgeable. I needed to make a few changes to my policy and they made it very easy to do…

    5 star review
  • Matthew

    A stress-free, easy option for business liability insurance, and more! Hiscox has provided a stress-free, easy option to purchasing quality business liability insurance (and more), and stayed focused on providing valuable resources for me and my business…

    5 star review
  • Shaundra

    Ease of acquiring the insurance (protection) I needed to fit my business and my budget.

    4 star review

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