General Liability Insurance

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4.6/5 stars from 852 reviews on Trustpilot
Backed by the best

What is general liability insurance?

General liability insurance is the most essential insurance for your business.

Also referred to as ‘commercial general liability’ (CGL) insurance or ‘business liability insurance,’ general liability insurance protects a business against the financial consequences of third-party bodily injury, property damage, and personal and advertising injury. It’s the protection you need to stay focused on building your business. The even better news? it’s easy and affordable to get.

What does general liability insurance cover?

General liability insurance can pay to investigate and defend claims, along with paying for damages, if you're held responsible for things like:

Bodily injury

Your workplace probably has slip-and-fall hazards.

Should a customer injure themselves while paying you a visit, you could be liable for their medical expenses and other damages.

Property damage

Maybe you visit your clients’ homes to perform your services.

Should you accidentally damage their property while you’re on site, you could be responsible for repairs or replacements.

Personal and advertising injury

Part of your job is advertising your company to grow the business. Should a competitor claim that your ad damaged their reputation, you could be liable for defamation.

How much does general liability insurance cost?

On average, small business owners pay around $42 per month or $504 per year for general liability insurance.

The cost of a CGL policy is based on just a few things: where you work, what you do, how long you need coverage, and the size of your team. Policies arranged by Thimble start at $17 a month, but every business is unique, so it’s always best to get a general liability insurance quote.

While we’re digging into cost, let’s talk deductibles. When you buy general liability insurance (by the job, month, or year, with Thimble), the amount you pay is called your ‘premium.’ But do you pay any more when you file a claim? Not exactly; the amount you are responsible for if you file a claim is what’s known as your ‘deductible.’ A deductible encourages policy holders to take precautions to avoid a loss by having them share in the expense of a claim.

For example, if you select a $250 deductible on a $1 million limit general liability policy, then file a claim for full limits, you would have only paid your premium and deductible in exchange for $1 million in coverage. Pretty solid math if you ask us. Deductibles on CGL policies from Thimble range from $1000 down to $0.

$17 a month on the low end, $42 on average, $1 million or more in coverage, and deductibles as low as $0. You might just be looking for cheap general liability insurance, but think of general liability insurance as an essential expense for starting a business, just like business cards or your website. Ultimately, what it costs is negligible compared to what it’s worth.

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Who needs general liability insurance?

If you work face-to-face with third parties, you probably need CGL.

From flying tools to expensive spills, you’re almost always at risk of causing bodily injury or property damage on the job. That’s why general liability insurance for a business is a “floating coverage” and a real resource to you, wherever you work and whatever you do.

So who needs general liability insurance? Basically, if you run a business that interacts with anyone, anywhere, for any reason? You do.

Why is general liability insurance important?

No matter your industry, general liability is your frontline defense against the financial consequences of a third-party accident.

Some types of contractors need proof of insurance to secure a state-issued permit or license, and many construction projects will check to see if you have CGL coverage before you’re even considered for the bid. Being insured also gives you the added benefit of trust with prospective customers, because it tells them that you’re a legitimate business.

Required or not, general liability insurance guarantees that one big claim can’t derail you while you build and grow.

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What other kinds of business insurance do I need?

General liability business insurance protects your business against bodily injury, property damage, and personal injury claims, but no two businesses are exactly the same. Business insurance for an LLC might look different than insurance for a sole proprietorship, so depending on the nature of your business, you may want to consider a number of other insurance coverages, so you’re ready for whatever the workday throws your way.

Workers’ compensation

Workers’ compensation covers the costs related to your employees’ workplace injuries and illnesses, and it’s required in just about every state. Your team is your most valuable asset, so it’s crucial that you get your business protected.

Learn more
Professional liability insurance

Professional liability insurance, also called errors & omissions (E&O) insurance, covers claims of financial loss as a result of providing—or failing to provide—professional services properly.

Learn more
Business Owner’s Policy (BOP)

A business owners policy or “BOP” is all the coverage most small businesses need in one easy package with two main areas: commercial property insurance and general liability insurance.

Learn more
Business Equipment Protection

Business Equipment Protection (also known as inland marine insurance) is a type of first-party insurance that covers business equipment that you own, rent or borrow and take with you on the job.

Learn more

General Liability Insurance FAQs

Is general liability insurance required by law?

General liability insurance is not always required by law, and you won’t necessarily get in legal trouble at the federal or state level for not carrying CGL insurance. However, there are other potential consequences for your business, like losing work because clients want to hire someone that’s insured, or suffering financial damages from a lawsuit. In a nutshell, it’s not always a requirement, but general liability insurance is a must-have.

How do I show proof I have a general liability policy?

Once you have general liability coverage, you’ll receive a policy and any necessary Certificates of Insurance (COI) you might require. Your COI, often known as an ACORD 25 Certificate of Liability Insurance, is a standard document that proves you’re insured. It includes details like the types of liability coverage (general liability, professional liability, etc.) you have in force, the applicable policy limits, and the duration of your policy. This is typically the document you need to show your clients to prove that you’re ready to get to work. With Thimble, you’ve got instant access to your COI after purchase, and you can make and send unlimited copies all with a click of a button.

Can I deduct general liability on my taxes as a business expense?

Generally, yes! Always get the help of a tax professional, but expenses you incur as a “cost of doing business” can be deducted from your taxable income. With that factored into the cost structure, it makes even more sense to get general liability insurance, so you can protect your business and save on taxes in the process.

Does general liability protect my store, office, or physical location?

No. If you own or rent a physical location you need a commercial property insurance policy. Unlike general liability which provides third-party coverage, commercial property insurance protects your property (first-party coverage), from commercial real estate to the paper clips.

What’s the difference between general and professional liability insurance?

General and professional liability insurance are two of the most common insurance types for self-employed people and entrepreneurs, so they’re often confused.

Think of general liability as insurance for “direct” harm caused by your business to anyone other than your own employees, whether it’s physical damage or damage to their reputation. Professional liability insurance, on the other hand, covers “indirect” harm to others in the form of negligence. It covers the financial consequences of providing, or failing to provide, professional services appropriately if your client ends up losing money.

They’re often mixed up, but these two work together as “interlocking coverages” for the most common risks you run as a business owner, even before you build a big team or buy expensive equipment.

What is an Additional Insured?

An Additional Insured is someone who requests to be protected under your CGL policy with respect to liability arising out of your actions or operations. In many cases, these are the companies or organizations hiring you, because they want to ensure that if anything goes wrong while you’re working on their behalf, they will be defended and covered under your insurance.

How are general liability claims handled?

Claims are handled on behalf of Markel Insurance Company or National Specialty Insurance Company. If you need to file a claim, please follow the contact instructions listed on your policy. Read more here.

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I was very impressed with your monthly rate on general liability coverage! Much less than 1/12 of everyone else's annual rate.

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