What is Liability Insurance?

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Speak with a licensed Hiscox insurance agent
Monday – Friday, 7am – 10pm ET
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Rated 4.8/5

Liability insurance can be difficult to understand, especially for business owners who aren’t sure if they even need the coverage or not. Liability insurance also known as commercial insurance protects small business owners from claims or lawsuits made against your business whether it is your mistake or not. There are three types of liability insurance: general liability insurance, professional liability insurance and business owners policy (general liability and property insurance). Read our answers to frequently asked questions regarding liability insurance policies for small businesses.

What is the difference between liability insurance and commercial insurance?

Liability insurance and commercial insurance are essentially the same thing. People use these terms interchangeably, and they are referring to the same basic product.

Why do I need small business insurance?

Owning a business puts you at considerable risk – from third party claims, property damage, or even employee theft. Without liability insurance, these monetary pitfalls fall on your shoulders, placing a burden on your business and personal assets.

Some industries require business owners to have certain types of business insurance before they can attain licenses or begin client work. Make sure you follow legal guidelines for your state regarding your small business insurance policies. Find out more about why you need liability insurance.

How does Hiscox tailor a liability insurance policy to meet my specific needs?

We understand the risks your professional small business faces on a daily basis. We also understand the risks an IT/technology consultant faces are different than those of a marketing consultant. It’s common sense, right? We tailor coverage to your specific profession.

For example, an IT/technology consultant would most likely need software copyright infringement coverage as part of its standard policy. This is irrelevant for most marketing consultants, so we don’t include it. This approach also means that you only pay for the coverage you really need.

You can also choose the deductibles and coverage limits you need to suit your business. Over time, you can contact us to change your limits of protection as your business needs change.

What are some ways to keep insurance costs down?

Evaluating sources of potential losses, and the risk associated with each, can help you determine if you can get rid of the risk entirely, or make sure your insurance policy covers this type of potential claim. Performing risk management for your small business can be a great way to understand exactly the type of coverage your small business needs, and which insurance policy can best suit your needs and budget.

Buying liability insurance directly from Hiscox will often mean you enjoy greater overall value. We like to reward businesses that actively manage their risk. Depending on your specific business, you will be asked questions about the types of risk management practices you have in place, allowing us to offer you our best rates.

We also offer customers up to a 5% discount if you buy two or more Hiscox products. Also, by choosing a higher deductible (the initial amount you pay for each claim), you can lower your premium. It’s only fair, as you’re taking on more of the risk.

How much does a liability insurance policy cost?

Liability insurance premiums vary a lot depending on several factors, including the size of your business, your occupation, the types of activities you conduct, and the level of protection you choose. Visit our general liability quote page or our professional liability insurance quote page and see some examples, or get a simple, no-obligation quote for your business now.

When should I review my insurance policies?

Reviewing your liability insurance policies twice a year, as well as whenever your business situation changes, is a good way to ensure that there are no lapses in coverage for your small business.

Can I cancel my liability insurance policy?

Yes – you can cancel your liability insurance policy at any time and Hiscox will refund the amount owed to you on a pro-rated basis. However, should your business then be subject to a claim, it will not be covered unless an extended reporting period is in effect (see the explanation below).

What is an extended reporting period endorsement?

Purchasing an extended reporting period endorsement can come in handy if you need to cancel your liability insurance policy. This means that although your business has no protection for claims arising from future work, it is still covered by your liability insurance in case you are sued for work previously completed. Hiscox charges a reduced amount for this, as we offer you a reduced level of coverage. For more information, please call a Hiscox licensed advisor at 866-283-7545 (Monday - Friday, 8 am - 10 pm EST).

What is a "claims made and reported" liability insurance policy?

Your liability insurance policy only provides protection only as long as your policy coverage is under affect. This means that only the claims made and reported in the liability insurance policy period will be covered. When you cancel your policy you may not have protection in place, even if a claim later arises from work completed during a period in which you had insurance. So it’s wise to keep coverage in place even after you have completed a project. However, if you must cancel your liability insurance coverage, you can opt to purchase an extended reporting period.

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

Current Hiscox customers can call us immediately at 866-424-8508 to make a liability insurance claim 24/7. A Hiscox advisor will collect details and, if necessary, appoint a lawyer on your behalf.

What payment options exist for my liability insurance policy?

Hiscox offers you a range of payment options for liability insurance policies, including debit and credit card (Visa, MasterCard and American Express). You can also choose to pay the full amount in one lump sum each year, or to pay on a monthly basis (with no fees added). We’re very flexible.

What is a retroactive date and how does it apply to a liability insurance policy?

A retroactive date on liability insurance policies show how far back Hiscox will pay valid claims, even if they may relate to work you completed before you took out the policy. Unlike many other insurers, we offer this additional coverage as standard.

How do I benefit from buying directly from Hiscox?

When you buy directly, you deal directly with Hiscox. Our team of licensed small business insurance advisors only focuses on professional businesses like yours. This means you speak to a knowledgeable specialist who can deliver personalized recommendations about the liability insurance you need for your specific profession.

As well as great service you also get great value. When you buy liability insurance directly there are fewer people involved in the process. Fewer people means less time and cost. Hiscox passes these savings on to you, allowing you to get the right coverage at a competitive price. Saving your small business dollars just makes sense.

Why is the Hiscox liability insurance quote and buy process so much simpler than other insurers?

Two reasons: specialization and technology.

A business consultant will probably never be sued for a customer getting food poisoning. So why would an application ask you questions associated with coverage that would only apply to a restaurant business? The questions on a Hiscox insurance application are only relevant to your business. Other insurers often use a one-size-fits-all application focused on businesses unrelated to your own. It’s a waste of time. Hiscox knows your time is money.

Technology is evolving and so is the way you can buy insurance for your business. Hiscox offers small business owners and entrepreneurs a new way to buy liability  insurance either online or over the phone in minutes. If you would like to speak with a licensed agent, you can call us at 866-283-7545 (Monday - Friday, 8 am - 10 pm EST). We’re always happy to help.

Why buy liability insurance from Hiscox?

Hiscox Insurance Company Inc. enjoys an ‘A’ (Excellent) rating from A.M. Best and is a member of the Hiscox Group, with over 100 years of experience insuring businesses. All of this valuable experience and knowledge allows Hiscox to provide your business with liability insurance to protect you from potential lawsuits.

Do you have more questions about liability insurance? Visit our General Liability Insurance FAQ, and Professional Liability Insurance FAQ sections.

Get a fast, free quote now and get that Hiscox confidence behind your business. If you prefer, you can call us at 1-866-283-7545 and speak with a Hiscox licensed agent, Monday through Friday from 8am-10pm EST.

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Hiscox Customer Reviews

Hiscox rated 4.8/5
Rated 4.8/5

Ralph, Virginia 
Short phone call, quick action, great service."


Vantage Property Management
"Hiscox provided the quote which best served our business insurance needs. In the course of shopping for a new insurance carrier for Vantage Property Management, we contacted several insurance providers, both through local brokers and online. Hiscox was able to provide us with a quick, concise quote which best served our business insurance needs. In addition to a quick on line response, a real human being was available to provide answers to our specific questions."


Christine, York, PA
"Knowledgeable customer service rep. Customer service rep was very helpful and speed process along.”


James, Parsippany, NJ
"Fast, easy and affordable professional liability insurance. I am a first time purchaser of professional liability insurance and both the e-mail correspondence as well as the personal contact from Hiscox made the entire process very easy. The premium is very competitive and I would recommend Hiscox to anyone, but in particular to independent professionals who need this type of insurance."


Rob, Connecticut
"Very pleased, professional and quick service. very easy to work with and I would recommend Hiscox to colleagues.  I used Hiscox due to the tie up with Amica."


Rosemarie, Massachusetts
"Perfect for a small business. It was quick and easy. "


Adam, Indiana
"Highly Recommend. Easy, affordable, great Service.
Great Experience. Quick, easy process."


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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.