What does general liability insurance cover?

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General liability insurance covers third-party claims of bodily injury, property damage, and personal and advertising injury.

Accidents happen. Whether a member of your team breaks a window or a customer slips and falls, commercial general liability insurance (CGL) can be your first line of defense.

What does general liability cover?

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

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

Your workplace may have slip and fall hazards. Should a client injure themselves while visiting your workplace, you could be liable for their medical expenses as well as pain and suffering.

Property Damage

You may visit your client’s home to perform your services. Should you damage their property during the course of your work, you could be responsible for replacing or repairing the damaged property.

Personal and Advertising Injury

A part of your job involves advertising your company to grow the business. Should one of your rivals claim that your advertisement damaged their reputation, you could be liable for defamation.

What does general liability insurance not cover? ​

Although a CGL policy covers damage to your clients and other third parties, it doesn’t cover everything. There are several important things that aren’t included.

Property damage to your own property

Should something happen to your personal or business property, it wouldn’t be covered by a general liability policy. For business-related losses, you’d also need commercial property insurance.

For instance, if a fire were to break out at your office and your business held responsible, your general liability policy might pay for the damage to the neighboring businesses, but it wouldn’t cover the damage the fire did to your own building or equipment.

Professional errors

While general liability covers you against claims of third-party property damage and bodily injury, professional liability insurance protects you against claims related to errors or negligence. This type of insurance is designed to protect anyone who provides professional services.

For example, if you’re an IT consultant, you may be hired to improve a company’s cybersecurity. Should a breach successfully occur in spite of your best efforts, you could be held liable. Professional liability insurance could help protect you.

Employee injury

If your employee suffers a workplace injury or illness, it won’t be covered by general liability insurance. That’s what workers’ compensation insurance is for. Every state in the country (besides Texas) requires that you acquire workers’ comp if you have employees.

For instance, if you employee got hurt while on the job workers’ comp policy could help pay for the hospital costs, lost wages, and other related damages. 

Automobile crashes

If you or an employee uses a vehicle for work purposes, it could result in an accident, causing damages to a third party. However, that wouldn’t be covered by your general liability protection. Rather, it would be covered by an auto liability insurance policy (which is also legally required in most states).

For example, if your tools fell from the truck bed while it was parked and damaged a client’s driveway, the general liability insurance policy could help cover the damages. But if your work vehicle bumped into a client’s vehicle and damaged it, that would be covered by the auto insurance policy. 

Who needs general liability coverage?

Every small business needs general liability insurance, because no matter what goods or services you provide for your customers, there’s always a chance that something can go wrong, even if your profession doesn't involve manual labor.

Obtaining an office lease

Professionals and companies that rent a commercial space often need to provide proof of general liability insurance to qualify for a lease.

Contracting with large companies

As an independent contractor you’ll most likely need to carry general liability insurance to satisfy the requirements of the client’s contract.

Applying for licensure or certification

Some professions or licensing authorities have requirements that their practitioners carry general liability in order to practice.

General Liability Insurance Cost FAQs

I need another Certificate (COI), is there an additional cost?

No. COI’s are provided at no additional charge and you can request as many as you need anytime. Usually you have to contact your broker to request another COI and wait for them to email you. With Thimble, you can easily generate as many COIs as you need.

Do I need liability coverage for the time I am working?

The answer to this question is typically yes. At Thimble, you can purchase your insurance specifically when you need it, tailoring your coverage to exactly when you’re on the job. This means you never pay for insurance when you don’t need it.

If I need both general liability and professional liability, are they purchased separately?

This depends on your insurance carrier. Look for carriers who bundle general and professional liability as this usually means lower premiums for you.

With Thimble, if your profession requires professional liability and general liability coverage we’ve included both in one simple policy bundle. This makes your liability insurance pricing better and ensures that your business is protected. (If you give advice as your job, such as a marketing consultant, you likely need both general liability and professional coverage.)

What’s the difference in cost between a general liability policy with $1M limits vs. $2M limits?

Your coverage limit is simply the total amount of coverage that can be paid out for valid claims under the policy. Considering that you’re getting double the coverage, the cost between a $1M general liability policy versus a $2M policy is often negligible (not double the price).

1 Insurance Journal. 10 Most Common & Costliest Small Business Claims.

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