Accidents happen all the time, and business owners need to be protected in case there's an accident in the workplace—especially since the average customer injury insurance claim is for $30,000. It’s important for business owners not to leave themselves vulnerable, and to make sure they have the insurance they need to cover all of the risks present in their business. After all, not having the right types of insurance can be the same as not having it at all, leaving businesses with no protection against many types of losses.
We compared more than a dozen of the country’s best insurance companies—as well as several brokers—based on the types of coverage they offer, the industries they serve, their ratings for financial stability, and customer satisfaction to identify those that best meet the needs of small businesses.
Read on to see who has the best small business insurance that meets your needs.
The 7 Best Small Business Insurance Companies of 2020
Best Overall: State Farm
We chose State Farm as the best overall small business insurance company because it offers multiple types of coverage through a nationwide network of agents. What’s more, State Farm agents are business owners themselves, so they understand the needs of other small business owners.
A nationwide network of agents
Simple general liability offerings available in $1 million increments
Several other types of coverage available, along with other endorsements and add-ons such as in-home business endorsements
Customer service won’t be consistent with every agent
Many agents can’t write across state lines
State Farm was established in 1922 by G.J. Mecherle, a retired farmer and insurance salesman. Though best known for auto and home insurance, State Farm has more than 100 products including financial services, banking, and commercial insurance. It has an A++ rating for financial stability from AM Best.
State Farm sells insurance in every state and offers policies designed for each stage of a company’s growth cycle including general liability, professional liability, and other types of coverage that can be added onto policies to suit individual needs. State Farm also offers business insurance that is designed specifically for certain industries such as contractors, professional services, restaurants, and retailers.
In addition to business coverage, State Farm offers discounts for policyholders who combine certain types of coverage, though discounts vary based on the types of coverage being bundled. Every State Farm agency is independently owned, so every agent understands the unique needs of small business owners—they are business owners themselves.
Best for Independent Contractors: Hiscox
Hiscox wins the top spot for independent contractors because they have products priced specifically for companies with fewer than five employees across a wide range of industries.
Huge international insurer
Operates in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.
Policies designed for micro-business needs
Doesn’t have local agents
Not a U.S.-based company
Hiscox was started in 1901 as an underwriter in Lloyd’s market. It’s based in Bermuda and trades on the London Stock Exchange but does business in 13 countries and all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia.
Hiscox offers a core lineup of business insurance products including commercial general liability, professional liability, business owners’ policies (BOPs), workers’ compensation, cyber liability, commercial auto, and employment practices liability insurance (EPLI). The company also writes all the business insurance policies sold by GEICO.
Hiscox offers standard liability coverage limits up to $2 million, but higher limits are available upon underwriting approval. The company boasts coverage for many industries and policy types for as little as $22.50 a month, making it an affordable solution for independent contractors and micro-businesses. Customized solutions are available for 14 different industries including salons, gyms, consultants, therapists, janitors, and acupuncturists.
Best General Liability Insurance: Nationwide
We chose Nationwide as our best general liability provider because the company is a business insurance carrier that focuses on simple, straightforward insurance solutions, which is ideal for businesses with high-risk, general liability needs. Nationwide also received the highest score in the J.D. Power Small Commercial Insurance Study of customers’ satisfaction in both 2018 and 2019.
High customer satisfaction ratings from J.D. Power
14 different industry specialties
Also offers investment services
Coverage not available in Alaska or Hawaii
Over 240 customer complaints through BBB
Nationwide traces its roots back to 1926 when it operated as Farm Bureau Mutual Automobile Insurance Company. The name was changed to Nationwide in 1955 during its efforts to expand coverage to all states from coast to coast. There are agents in every state except Hawaii and Alaska.
In addition to general liability, Nationwide offers many types of business insurance including business property, commercial auto, BOP, workers’ compensation, EPLI, equipment breakdown coverage, and umbrella insurance. The company also has 14 different industry specialties including retailers, medical clinics, professional service providers, and agricultural businesses.
Even though Nationwide offers a wide range of products, we like its standalone general liability policy that covers for a minimum of $1 million per occurrence and $2 million in aggregate annual coverage for industries at higher risk for third-party claims, such as retail providers, professional offices, and food and beverage businesses.
Best Workers’ Compensation: The Hartford
We chose The Harford as our top workers’ compensation provider because of the special benefits it offers employers such as pay-as-you-go plans. These plans drastically lower the chances of over- or under-paying premiums because costs are based on actual payroll instead of projections.
Second-largest provider of workers’ compensation insurance nationwide
State- and city-specific insurance requirement guides
Pay-as-you-go workers’ comp that reduces the risk of premium discrepancies
Discounts available for bundling policies
Network of over a million healthcare providers to help injured workers
No app for filing claims
Cumbersome application process
The Hartford was founded in 1810 as a fire insurance company. Since then, the company has grown into a Fortune 500 company that serves over a million small business customers. The Hartford, a Connecticut-based company, has an A+ (Superior) rating from AM Best.
The Hartford offers many types of business insurance including general liability, BOPs, commercial auto, commercial flood, data breach coverage, EPLI, marine insurance, and professional liability coverage. The company also advertises more than 20 industry specialties including arborists, pet groomers, restaurants, printing, and publishing.
In addition, The Harford offers many other policyholder benefits including:
- Access to The Hartford’s Preferred Medical Provider Network with over a million healthcare providers
- Prescription drug features
- Reimbursements for all lab work
- The Nursed Back to Health Program
The cost of workers’ compensation from The Hartford is calculated per $100 of payroll and based on codes that are used to categorize employees’ daily roles. However, The Hartford also offers discounts to workers’ compensation insurance: up to 5% for policyholders who bundle their coverage with general liability and up to 10% for bundling workers’ comp with a business owners policy. These features are clearly helpful for The Hartford’s customers, as the company is the second-largest provider of workers’ comp insurance nationwide.
Best Commercial Property Insurance: Travelers
We chose Travelers as our best commercial property insurer because the company has developed extensive experience in the space, having been ranked the top commercial property insurance company in the United States.
A++ rating from AM Best
Also operates in Canada, Mexico, and the United Kingdom
Number-one commercial property insurer in the U.S. by premiums written
More than 20 industry specializations
Over 380 customer complaints through BBB
Pricing and features are highly dependent on industry and operations
Travelers is another storied company with a history that stretches back to 1864, when one of its founders started writing accident insurance for two-cent premiums. The company as it’s known today was formed in 2004 with the merger of Travelers and St. Paul Companies and has an A++ rating from AM Best.
Travelers has insurance solutions that are designed to meet the needs of companies in more than 20 industries including transportation, manufacturing, construction, retail, and public entities. However, the company has developed considerable expertise in commercial property insurance.
In fact, the company writes so much property insurance that it ranks as the number-one writer of commercial property insurance in the United States, according to 2018 filings with business intelligence firm SNL Financial. The company offers other types of business insurance including commercial auto, cyber liability, surety bonds, and workers’ comp, although prices vary by industry.
Because Travelers operates in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and the U.K., the company is well-suited to provide coverage for companies that do business internationally. But, while Travelers has an A+ rating from the BBB, the company also has almost 400 registered customer complaints, so business owners should be careful to review policy documents before buying coverage from one of Travelers’ independent agents across the country.
Best Business Owners Policy: Liberty Mutual
We chose Liberty Mutual as the best insurer for BOPs because the company has a fast and easy process with a streamlined business owner's policy available for many different industries that combine coverage in one cost-effective policy.
Quick and easy claim process that can be filed online or through an app
24-hour claims assistance
Adjusters quickly available in most areas across the country
Policies serviced by independent agents
We chose Liberty Mutual as our best provider of business owners policies (BOPs) that combine multiple types of coverage into a single policy protecting against liability, property loss, and loss of income. Liberty Mutual is in a unique position to help large numbers of business owners for a reasonable price, regardless of industry.
Liberty Mutual also advertises 24-hour claims assistance through its nationwide contractor referral network. The company is known for having adjusters around the country that can help settle claims quickly, even in rural communities. Liberty has been accredited by the BBB since 1931 and has an A+ rating.
Liberty Mutual offers business insurance in all 50 states that is sold through independent agents across the country. The company has several types of coverage available including commercial auto, equipment breakdown, inland marine, umbrella coverage, and workers’ compensation, as well as nearly 20 industry-specific solutions including agriculture, construction, education, healthcare, hospitality, and real estate.
Best Commercial Auto: Progressive Commercial
We chose Progressive as our best insurer for commercial auto insurance because it is the largest specialist in this space and knows how to handle business auto claims better than anyone.
15% discount on commercial auto when combined with general liability or a business owners policy
Top commercial auto insurer in the country
Trucking insurance available in all 50 states
Discounts aren’t available in all states
Progressive was founded in 1937 and is one of the biggest auto insurance companies in the world.
While commercial auto is one of Progressive’s major areas of focus, the company also offers other types of business insurance including general liability, workers’ compensation, BOPs, professional liability, and cyber insurance. Progressive has specially designed insurance solutions for 10 industries including beauty, health and wellness, professional firms, and skilled trades.
Progressive offers up to a 15% discount on commercial auto coverage when it’s combined with general liability or a BOP, even if the general liability or business owners policy is through a different carrier. Business owners can also save up to 15% for paying annual premiums in full upfront.
What Insurance Do I Need for My Small Business?
The insurance that you need for your small business depends on what type of business you have and your specific risks. However, almost all businesses need general liability insurance, which protects you in case a customer gets hurt at your place of business.
Some other types of small business insurance that you may need include:
- Commercial property insurance if you own or lease property for your business
- Workers’ compensation insurance if you have employees
- Professional liability, also called errors and omissions (E&O), for professional service providers such as an architect, accountant, consultant, or lawyer
- Commercial auto insurance if you use vehicles for business purposes (other than commuting)
- Inland marine insurance if you transport inventory or equipment
In addition to these core types of business insurance, there are many other types of coverage that business owners may need to cover risks, such as cyber insurance or employers' professional liability insurance, that are specific to the company or its industry.
What Does Small Business Insurance Cover?
Small business insurance is designed to provide financial protection to a business and its business owners if there’s an accident involving the business’s owner, employees, customers, or property. The average claim for customer injury or property damage is about $30,000. In cases where a claim leads to a lawsuit, a general liability claim can cost $75,000 or more to defend and settle.
The specific risks covered by small business insurance depend on the types of coverage you buy:
- Commercial general liability insurance covers accidents or injuries to your customers or other members of the public at your place of business.
- Business property insurance covers damage to your business’s facilities, equipment, or inventory that result from a qualifying event.
- Workers’ compensation insurance covers work-related accidents or injuries to employees while they’re on the job.
In addition to these core coverages, professional liability insurance protects small business owners against claims arising from poor guidance that they give to clients. Commercial auto insurance covers damages resulting from a car accident caused by you or one of your employees when using a vehicle for business purposes. Damage to inventory or equipment when it’s in transit is covered by inland marine insurance.
What Is a Business Owners Policy (BOP)?
A business owners policy (BOP) is a policy that combines multiple types of business insurance in a single policy. Most BOPs include commercial general liability and property coverage, as well as small amounts of coverage for endorsements such as inland marine or umbrella coverage. By combining these coverages into a single policy, business owners are usually able to save money on their total premiums.
One important thing for business owners to remember about BOPs is that, while they include multiple types of insurance, each coverage included in a BOP usually has its own limits, deductibles, and exclusions.
What Does Small Business Insurance Exclude?
While small business insurance protects your company against legitimate losses, it doesn’t protect against damages caused by your negligence or fraud. It also may not cover you if you misrepresent the nature of your business or misclassify your employees in order to reduce premiums. Most policies, especially commercial property, also don’t protect business owners from losses resulting from natural disasters like floods, earthquakes, or hurricanes, unless coverage is specially added to protect against these events.
For businesses that have multiple policies or several coverages combined in a BOP, coverage limits aren’t fungible; if a business has a loss for which they have low coverage limits, a business owner can’t borrow additional coverage from other parts of the policy unless their policy explicitly allows it.
Individual coverages also have specific exclusions. For example, while workers’ comp protects employees in the event of workplace accidents, they typically don't cover accidents that result from horseplay. Similarly, commercial auto insurance doesn’t provide coverage when a business vehicle is being used for non-business purposes at the time of an accident. Business interruption insurance will help replace lost revenue for a business in certain circumstances, but may not replace all lost income. Some policies require business owners to pay co-insurance or only replace income for the first three to 18 months of interruption.
What Is the Average Cost of Small Business Insurance?
Small business insurance costs vary widely based on industry, location, and coverage types. Owners of even the smallest businesses with no employees should expect to pay at least $800 to $1,500 per year for basic coverage. However, business owners who own facilities or equipment, have employees, or give professional advice should all expect to pay more each year in order to protect against their specific risks. Costs can also be higher for business owners who choose higher coverage limits, lower deductibles, additional coverages, or extra endorsements.
How We Chose the Small Business Insurance Companies
To identify the best small business insurance companies, we looked at over a dozen national and regional insurance companies, as well as several online brokers. We chose not to include brokers on our list because we found multiple cases where business owners can qualify for discounts and other savings, as well as customized coverage for their business, by working directly with carriers.
Business owners need an insurance company that they can partner with as they grow. They need insurance that’s easy to find, buy, and understand. To build our list, we focused on companies that make coverage widely available and that have strong ratings for financial stability and customer satisfaction. We also considered the types of coverage that companies offer and the industries they specialize in.
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AM Best. "AM Best Affirms Credit Ratings of Hartford Financial Servs Group and Subs; Upgrades Ratings of Hartford Life and Accident Ins Co." Accessed Nov. 3, 2020.
AM Best. "A.M. Best Affirms Financial Strength and Debt Ratings of Travelers Ratings Supplement." Accessed Nov. 3., 2020.
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