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If a customer at your business falls and injures themselves, your business could be held liable. A commercial general liability insurance policy protects businesses from losing money to lawsuits for negligent acts, including misleading advertising, that result in property damage or injury. General liability insurance is included in a business owner’s policy (BOP) or you can buy it as a standalone policy.
We evaluated 19 national and regional insurers offering general liability insurance based on 53 criteria in the following categories: customer experience (25%), cost (25%), coverage (25%), accessibility (10%), financial stability (10%), and buying experience (5%). Three years of complaint data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) and J.D. Power rankings were used to evaluate customer experience; AM Best ratings were used to evaluate financial stability. Here’s how the best general liability insurance companies measure up.
Best General Liability Insurance Companies for Small Businesses of March 2023
- Best Overall: Hiscox
- Most Flexible Coverage: Thimble
- Best BOP: Next Insurance
- Best for Larger Small Businesses: Chubb Ltd
- Best Food Liability Insurance Endorsements: Nationwide
- Best for Quick Coverage: Huckleberry
- Best for High Coverage: Farmers
- Our Top Picks
- Next Insurance
- Chubb Ltd
- See More (4)
Best Overall : Hiscox
Hiscox offers quick online quotes and customizable policies with a variety of coverages for small businesses.
Robust coverage, including electronic data liability
Customize your policy with other common small business coverages
Fast online quotes and electronic policy documents
BOP only offered to businesses with 10 employees or fewer
BOP is not available in select states
Hiscox offers quick online quotes and sends your policy documents electronically so you can get coverage for your business quickly. Also, you may be able to reduce your premium by tailoring your coverage to the specific risks your business faces. The company’s general liability policy for small business covers up to $250 per day in lost earnings and includes electronic data liability coverage. Also, you can purchase most other coverages your business would need through Hiscox, including professional liability, commercial property, workers’ compensation, and commercial auto.
Hiscox also offers higher general liability limits for small businesses than some competitors—up to $5 million. Zero-deductible plans are available, too. A business owner’s policy (which includes both general liability and commercial property coverages) is available from Hiscox for businesses with 10 employees or less. Hiscox is A-rated (Excellent) by AM Best for financial strength.
Most businesses will pay at least $381 annually for general liability insurance from Hiscox.
Most Flexible Coverage : Thimble
Thimble lets you buy coverage by the job, month, or year. You can modify or pause your coverage as needed, making it a great option for seasonal or event-based businesses.
Flexible and temporary coverage available
Offers a comprehensive BOP with optional add-ons
All policies are occurrence-based
Doesn’t offer commercial auto
Limited to businesses with no more than $5 million in annual revenue
With Thimble, you can quickly get on-demand or monthly general liability coverage online, modify it as you go, and pause it for up to 30 days once. Thimble offers a business owner’s policy that includes business interruption insurance and commercial property insurance along with general liability. Also, you can add optional coverages like hired and non-owned auto or equipment breakdown.
Thimble’s policies are occurrence-based, providing better coverage than claims-made policies. Occurrence-based policies cover you for incidents that occurred while the policy was in effect, even if you’ve since canceled your policy.
However, you may not be able to get all the coverages you need from Thimble—the company doesn’t offer commercial auto policies, for example, or general liability policies to businesses with more than $5 million in annual revenue.
Thimble had fewer complaints with the NAIC over the last three years than expected based on its size, and Thimble works with insurers that are A-rated (Excellent) for financial strength with AM Best.
Thimble’s general liability policies are available with $1 million or $2 million limits (per occurrence and aggregate) and have the following starting premiums:
- On-demand: $5 per month
- Monthly: $24 per month
- Yearly: $263 per year
Learn more in our Thimble Business Insurance Review.
Best BOP : Next Insurance
Next’s business owner’s policies are affordable, easy to buy, and include business interruption coverage. Also, you can save up to 10% when you bundle general liability and commercial property policies.
Offers a shareable live certificate of insurance
Offers a BOP with business interruption coverage
Online quote and application with live chat support
Claims decisions may be made in 48 hours
Fewer specialized coverages than other insurers
BOP not available in four states
Next Insurance offers an entirely online quote and application with same-day coverage available, and you can chat with the company live if you need help. Once you pay for your policy, you’ll get an instant, live certificate of insurance that you can easily update with additional insureds or share with clients. Next Insurance offers a BOP that saves you 10% and includes business interruption coverage. You can also get a standalone general liability policy with the company, which costs as little as $11 per month for some very small, low-risk businesses.
Next also offers many basic commercial coverages, such as workers’ compensation, commercial auto, and professional liability. But Next is aimed at small businesses and offers fewer specialized coverages for industry-specific risks than a company like Chubb.
General liability insurance from Next can cost as little as $11 per month, and more than 70% of Next’s customers pay less than $75 per month. The starting price for a business owner’s policy is $400. Next also offers up to 25% in savings through various discounts.
Best for Larger Small Businesses : Chubb Ltd
Chubb has high revenue limits, top-tier financial strength rating from AM Best, and a variety of coverages specific to small businesses.
High revenue limits that allow for bigger small businesses
Rated A++ (Superior) for financial strength by AM Best
Few complaints with the NAIC relative to the company’s size
Offers coverage for foreign operations
No online quote for businesses with greater than $1 million in annual revenue
Chubb is the leading commercial lines insurer in the U.S. It offers standalone general liability coverage or a BOP for businesses with up to $30 million in revenue, which includes general liability insurance and business income insurance. You can get a foreign package if you have employees taking business trips overseas. Outside of its small business offerings, Chubb provides a full range of coverages for businesses of any size, including many specialty coverages other companies don’t offer.
Chubb provides online quotes for some small businesses with less than $1 million in annual revenue, but if your business earns more than that, you’ll need to speak with an agent to get your quote.
The company receives A.M. Best’s top grade for financial strength, A++ (Superior). And Chubb had relatively few complaints with the NAIC over the past three years, indicating few issues with customer satisfaction.
Chubb offers small business general liability policies starting at $250 and business owner’s policies starting at $450.
Best Food Liability Insurance Endorsements : Nationwide
Nationwide offers a highly specialized BOP for food-service businesses, such as restaurants, along with a general liability policy with a variety of endorsements.
Offers specialized BOPs for food businesses
A+ (Superior) financial strength
10 endorsements to its Food Service Program BOP
Up to $4 million in small business general liability coverage
Must contact an agent to get a quote
Nationwide offers a general liability policy that you can customize with a range of food service endorsements, such as product liability, liquor liability, and hired and non-owned auto coverage. General liability policies offer up to $4 million in annual coverage, which is more than several competitors. Nationwide also offers comprehensive restaurant insurance through its Food Service Program BOP which is available to restaurants that bring in less than $5 million in revenue per location. It offers 10 restaurant-specific endorsements, including credit card forgery, spoilage coverage, and food contamination coverage.
Nationwide has an A+ (Superior) financial strength rating from AM Best, but the company received more complaints than expected, according to the NAIC. Another drawback: You’ll need to speak with an agent to get a quote for your small business.
Nationwide offers general liability policies starting at $300 annually and business owner’s policies starting at $350 annually.
Best for Quick Coverage : Huckleberry
Huckleberry offers a five-minute purchase experience and live chat support.
Live chat support
Quick online quote and application
Instant certificate of insurance
Offers several endorsements to a BOP
Not available in four states
Huckleberry offers live chat and phone support should you need it, but you can get a quote and application entirely online, and it takes five minutes or less for 95% of customers. You’ll get an instant certificate of insurance you can share once you pay for your policy.
You can get a general liability policy from Huckleberry or opt for BOP, which includes business interruption coverage and offers many endorsements, including liquor liability, professional liability, equipment breakdown, and a restaurant endorsement. You can also get most other small business coverages you’ll need from Huckleberry, too, such as commercial auto. Huckleberry policies are underwritten by Chubb and Markel.
Huckleberry’s general liability policies start at $34 per month, and the median annual premium is $700. Pricing for a business owner’s policy starts at $444.
Best for High Coverage : Farmers
Small businesses can get up to $5 million in annual coverage from Farmers, and the company offers several policies with multiple discounts.
Up to $5 million in coverage for small businesses
Multiple discounts available
Free access to loss control resources
Doesn’t offer professional liability insurance
You have to talk to an agent to purchase your policy
Farmers is a great option for businesses that need a general liability policy with high limits but don’t need professional liability insurance (or already have it with another company). The company offers per-occurrence and aggregate annual limits of up to $5 million. You can also get a variety of discounts, including a 15% discount for being a corporation and several multi-policy discounts. Farmers also offers commercial auto, workers’ compensation, commercial property insurance, and cyber liability and employment practices liability coverages as well. You’ll need to speak with an agent to purchase your policy.
Farmers does not disclose general pricing information.
Other General Liability Insurance Companies
- The Hartford
- State Farm
- Liberty Mutual
Hiscox and Next are solid options for a general liability policy for most small businesses. Businesses that need temporary or more flexible coverage should go with Thimble, while larger small businesses or those with more specialized risks should go with Chubb. If you’re in an industry that requires higher general liability limits but doesn’t require professional liability insurance, Farmers is a good option. Food service businesses, such as restaurants, may find their needs best served by Nationwide.
Compare business insurance quotes for general liability coverage from multiple companies before choosing a policy and company to go with.
How General Liability Insurance Works
General liability insurance typically includes the following coverages:
- Bodily injury and property damage liability: This covers lawsuits brought against your business for claims of physical harm or emotional distress caused on your premises or by your operations. Product liability coverage may be included, which covers injuries caused by your product. However, acts such as negligence and misrepresentation resulting from your services are not covered.
- Personal and advertising injury: This covers offenses such as libel and slander, copyright infringement, and other advertising injuries. It also covers malicious prosecution, false arrest, and invasion of privacy.
- Medical payments: This coverage can go into effect even if the person harmed doesn’t sue. It covers an injured non-employee’s medical bills as a result of an accident occurring on the business premises or as a result of business operations.
General liability policies specify a per-occurrence limit or individual claim limit, an annual aggregate limit, and a deductible. You should ensure you understand the exclusions in your policy and fill in any gaps with endorsements or additional coverages.
Factors Influencing General Liability Insurance Cost
Your monthly premium for general liability insurance will vary not only based on the company and policy you choose, but also based on factors affecting your business’s risk. Commercial insurance companies tend to consider the following factors when they determine your policy cost:
If your business operates in a high-risk industry, like construction, you’ll pay more for general liability insurance than a low-risk business, such as a retail shoe store.
If you run your business in a busy city, you might pay more for general liability insurance than a company operating in a less-populated rural area.
Newer small businesses are likely to pay more for general liability insurance than established businesses since they have less experience managing risks.
If you’ve never filed a business insurance claim, that may indicate to insurers that you’re taking actions to prevent risk, which will likely lower your premiums. On the other hand, past claims could reveal to insurers that your business is risky, causing them to charge you more, in some cases.
The policy limits, deductibles, and any endorsements you choose will impact the price of your policy. A higher deductible means lower premiums, while higher limits or add-ons mean higher premiums.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is General Liability Insurance Required by Law?
State laws don’t typically require general liability insurance, but it’s important coverage for businesses to have. What’s more, it may be required for licensure in some industries or as part of your contract. Fortunately, many of the best small business insurance companies offer affordable policies that include general liability coverage.
How Much General Liability Insurance Do I Need?
A $1 million per occurrence and $2 million aggregate annual limit is a common choice for small businesses. But if you face higher risks because of your industry, your location, or the customers you serve, you may want to consider higher limits for general liability insurance. Consult with one or more insurance agents if you need help determining your coverage needs.
What Are the Risks of Not Having General Liability Insurance?
If you don’t have general liability insurance, your business will have to pay for its legal defense and judgments if someone sues. Even if the lawsuit is dropped, you can spend thousands of dollars on legal fees. And if you’re required to pay a settlement, your business may have to fork over hundreds of thousands of dollars, which could bankrupt you.
When Should You Consider Buying General Liability Insurance?
Most businesses should consider buying general liability insurance, especially businesses that do any of the following:
- Serve customers or clients face-to-face
- Use third-party job sites
- Access their customers’ property
- Use marketing techniques like logos and taglines
- Bid for contracts requiring general liability insurance
What Does General Liability Insurance Not Cover?
General liability insurance does not cover the following:
- Theft or damage to your business property
- Damage or harm that you or your employees intentionally cause
- Injuries to employees—you’ll need workers’ compensation for that
- Vehicles your business uses in its operations
- Professional acts of negligence or inaccurate advice—you’ll need professional liability insurance for that
- Any exclusions specific to your policy
To identify the best general liability insurance companies, we considered 19 national and regional insurers, as well as several online brokers, and compared them based on 53 unique criteria in six different categories. We weighted each category as follows to determine star ratings:
- Cost- and fee-related criteria: 25%
- Coverage: 25%
- Customer experience: 25%
- Accessibility criteria: 10%
- Financial stability: 10%
- Buying experience: 5%
AM Best financial strength ratings were used to evaluate financial stability. J.D. Power rankings from the U.S. Small Commercial Insurance Study and three years of NAIC complaint data were used to evaluate customer experience.
Companies that make affordable coverage widely available, have a streamlined quote and application process, offer robust features, and have strong ratings for financial stability and customer satisfaction topped our list. We also considered available coverage limits (for individual claims and annual aggregates) and whether discounts are available. To learn more about how criteria contributed to star ratings, see our detailed methodology.