About General Liability Insurance
All businesses, regardless of industry, face risks that should be covered by insurance. The most common and comprehensive type of policy business owners invest in is general liability insurance (or CGL).
Some of the risks CGL insurance covers are:
- Bodily injury
- Property damage
- Medical payments
- Legal defense and judgment
- Personal and advertising injury
While businesses aren't legally required to carry general liability insurance, operating without it is extremely risky. If your business is sued, you could end up facing fees totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars (or more). Having a sufficient CGL policy in place to help compensate for these damages is the only way to prevent this type of event from devastating your business.
Learn more about the risks covered by general liability insurance.
COMMON SITUATIONS THAT GENERAL LIABILITY INSURANCE WOULD COVER FOR A INSURANCE AGENCY
Example 1: During an insurance review meeting in your office, a client’s child climbs up to a shelf, pulls it and its contents down on top of him, and sustains injuries that require minor surgery. Your client sues your business for damages. General liability insurance would cover the child’s medical expenses, your legal fees, and any court-awarded damages.
Example 2: While conducting a home visit for a homeowners insurance policy, an employee accidentally lets the homeowner’s dog outside where a car hits him. Because the accident results in emergency veterinary bills for the homeowner and damage to the other party’s vehicle, they both sue you for damages. General liability insurance would pay for your legal defense and any required settlement.
Example 3: When your designer uses a copyrighted photo in flyers for your new marketing campaign, the photo’s owner sues you both in a copyright infringement lawsuit. General liability insurance would cover your legal fees and any court-awarded damages.
Of course, this is not an exhaustive list of perils a general liability insurance policy will cover, and some conditions may result in a particular peril not being covered. It's always best to talk to your agent in-depth about the specifics of your policy to avoid blind spots in coverage.
Cost of General Liability Insurance
On average, insurance agencies in America spend between $400 - $700 per year for $1 million in general liability coverage.
Check out the chart below for a snapshot of average CGL expenditure across a variety of industries:
Several factors will determine the price of your policy. These include your:
- Number of employees
- Per-occurrence limit
- General aggregate limit
You may be able to acquire general liability insurance at a discounted rate by purchasing it as part of a business owner's policy (BOP) rather than as a standalone policy. A BOP is a more comprehensive solution that includes multiple forms of coverage, such as business interruption and property insurance.
Other Types of Coverage insurance agencies Need
While general liability is the most important type of insurance to have, there are several other forms of coverage you should be aware of. Below are some other types of insurance all insurance agencies should obtain:
Professional Liability Insurance
Your clients rely on your expertise in determining what insurance coverage they need. If someone decides you failed to meet their needs — either from professional negligence or an error — they could take you to court for damages. In the event of a lawsuit, professional liability insurance would cover your legal fees and any required settlement.
Commercial Property Insurance
Whether you own or lease your office space, you should include commercial property insurance in your insurance portfolio. In the event of a fire, theft, or natural disaster, commercial property insurance would cover the cost of repairing or replacing your business-related property. This includes structural damage to your building and the business materials you store there.
You can typically purchase commercial property insurance as part of a business owners policy (BOP).
Types of Coverage Some insurance agencies May Need
In addition to the policies outlined above, there are a few other types of coverage your insurance agency may require depending on certain aspects of your operations. Some of these might not apply to you, so be sure to ask your agent which policies are right for your business.
Data Breach Insurance
As an insurance agent, you must store a significant amount of personal information about your clients. This coverage — also known as cyber attack insurance — protects your business from liability if a cybercriminal hacks into your computer system, steals sensitive client data, and your clients sue you for damages. In the event of such a lawsuit, data breach insurance would cover your legal fees and any settlement payouts.
Workers’ Compensation Insurance
If you have any employees, most states will require you to carry workers’ compensation insurance for your part-time and full-time workers. This coverage protects your employees if they become injured at work or fall ill after a work-related accident. It not only covers an employee’s medical bills and lost wages if they need time to recover, but also any disability or death benefits stemming from a workplace accident. When a substantial claim results in a lawsuit, this coverage also would pay for your legal fees and any court-awarded damages.
Most insurers offer workers’ compensation insurance as a standalone policy.
Commercial Umbrella Insurance
Given today’s litigious society, insurance agents must eliminate any gaps in their insurance coverage. While your general liability insurance policy covers most claims, some accidents or lawsuits may be so catastrophic that they threaten to exhaust the limits of your primary coverage. Commercial umbrella insurance protects you from paying out-of-pocket for any legal fees and awarded damages that exceed your primary policy.
Additional Steps to Protect Your Business
Although it's easy (and essential) to invest in business insurance, it should not be your frontline defense. Yes, insurance will compensate for your business' financial losses after an incident occurs, but it's much better to avoid losses altogether.
With this in mind, here are three things you can do to better protect your business:
- Use legally robust contracts and other business documents. (We offer free templates for some of the most common legal forms.)
- Set up a limited liability company (LLC) to protect your personal assets. (Refer to our guide for step-by-step instructions on how to form an LLC in your state.)
- Streamline your business' internal processes. This will remove unnecessary variables from common tasks and create a safe, consistent environment for conducting business.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is included in a business owner’s policy?
A typical business owner's policy includes general liability, business interruption, and property insurance. However, BOPs are often customizable, so your agent may recommend adding professional liability, commercial auto, or other types of coverage to your package depending on your company's needs.
What is the difference between business insurance and general liability insurance?
"Business insurance" is a generic term used to describe many different types of coverage a business may need. General liability insurance, on the other hand, is a specific type of coverage that business owners need to protect their assets.
Do I need insurance before I start a business?
You should invest in coverage for your business before your first interaction with a customer. Although the cost of insurance may seem high for a brand new business, it's best to be proactive when it comes to protecting your assets. After all, you can't buy insurance to cover a loss that has already occurred.
Will insurance protect my business from everything?
Not necessarily. Certain exceptions may be written directly into your policy, and some perils may be entirely uninsurable. Be sure to discuss the scope of your policy in-depth with your agent to avoid being blindsided by holes in your coverage.