General Liability Insurance

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What is general liability insurance?

General liability insurance, also referred to as ‘commercial general liability’ (CGL) insurance or ‘business liability insurance,’ protects a business against the risk of accidents like bodily injury and property damage that happen to a third party.

CGL is the most essential insurance for a business. If you don’t have it and something happens while you’re on the job, one big claim could cost enough to put you out of work. With general liability insurance, you’ll have the protection you need to stay focused on building your business.

“General liability protects against accidents which cause bodily injury or property damage.”

The content on this page has been verified by
Terri Hitchcock, JD
Chief Insurance Officer, Thimble
Terri has 38 years of industry experience and knows a thing or two about insurance, so she reviewed and approved everything on this page.

Why is it important?

It may not sound like it, but in insurance, we know a thing or two about parties.

Most parties are laid-back, but third parties—like your clients and customers—can be quick to sue you for things that aren’t your fault. Not so fun. For that reason and so many more, the cost of a liability insurance policy is negligible when you compare to what it’s worth.

Imagine you’re a general contractor. Your average workday includes a lot of risks: falling beams, live wires, even getting paint on your client’s blouse when you go to shake their hand. Everything that could go wrong is another reason why you need general liability coverage.

No matter your profession, if you serve your clients face-to-face at your place of work, their place of work, or any third-party location, you need general liability too.

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Is general liability insurance required by law?

The short answer is not always. Sometimes a state will require someone to carry some insurance prior to the state issuing a permit or license. Even if you are not required to carry it, that doesn’t mean you don’t need it. General liability insurance is important for many businesses in a variety of scenarios. It’s always smart to have it.

While you won’t necessarily get in legal trouble at the federal or state level for not carrying CGL insurance, there are other potentially worse consequences you may suffer. Should you fall victim to a customer lawsuit without general liability insurance coverage, the financial burden could hurt your business. 

An even bigger risk is that businesses without general liability insurance often have trouble finding clients who will work with them.

At the end of the day, general liability insurance is a must-have for protecting your business, but it’s not always legally required.

What does general liability cover?

You should consider purchasing general liability insurance coverage if you work with clients on a face-to-face basis or at a client’s place of work, your own place of work, or a third-party location.

Bodily Injury

Slippery when wet. General liability insurance coverage protects against claims of physical injury to a third party.

Property Damage

CGL also offers coverage for damages to another entity’s property. If you don’t own it and you break it, CGL can help.

Personal + Advertising Injury

Say it ain’t so. Claims that you publicized something damaging the reputation of another party.

Defense Costs

If settling a claim lands you in court, CGL can help you “lawyer up.”

How much does general liability insurance cost?

The cost of a CGL policy with Thimble is based on just a few things: what you do, where you work, how long you need coverage, and the size of your team. Your industry also determines how much you’re exposed to risk, as some jobs come with a higher likelihood of physical injury or property damage.

Thimble makes general liability insurance affordable with Monthly and On-Demand plans that you can start, pause, and cancel at any time. No deposits and no hidden fees.

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  • What do you do for a living? Contractor
  • Enter your business zip code 22401
  • Choose your coverage Monthly
  • Do you have anyone working with you? Me +3

What other kinds of business insurance do I need?

While general liability insurance is designed to protect your business against bodily injury, property damage, and personal injury claims, you may want to consider a number of other coverage types depending on the nature of your business.

Professional liability insurance

Designed to protect against errors & omissions claims—i.e., allegations that a job has been done improperly and resulted in monetary or reputational damage—is essential for a range of professionals, from consultants to photographers.
Learn more

Property insurance

Protects the value of your assets, including commercial premises, equipment, and supplies, in case they are damaged or destroyed.

Workers’ comp

Essential if your business has employees or workers of any kind. This coverage applies to medical expenses and lost wages associated with work-related injuries and illnesses.


Learn more about small business insurance


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General Liability FAQ

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

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

What is an Additional Insured?

An Additional Insured is anyone who wants to be protected in connection to your CGL policy. In many cases, this is the company or organization 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?

All claims are handled by Markel Service Incorporated. If you need to file a CGL claim, email or call 1-(800)-362-7535. Read more here.

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