Small business owners want to work with commercial general liability insurance companies that are reliable and can offer quality coverage at an affordable rate. We compared more than 20 carriers on criteria including costs, policy options, and online availability to come up with the top six commercial general liability insurance companies.
Top Commercial General Liability Insurance Companies 2019
|The Hartford||Owners who want to work with the best overall general liability insurance company|
|Hiscox||Business owners in high-risk industries who also want to cover business equipment|
|Allstate||Business owners who want to buy customized general liability insurance online|
|CNA||Owners with growing businesses who need general liability for multiple locations or contract requirements|
|Chubb||Business owners who want fast responses to general liability insurance claims|
|Travelers||Technology business owners who want to add liability endorsements to strong core coverage|
What General Liability Insurance Is
General liability insurance covers third-party lawsuits over property damage, physical harm, and defamation claims. Third parties include anyone who comes into contact with your business but doesn’t work for you, including customers, delivery people, and competitors. These are the people you interact with the most, and general liability covers your interactions with them.
Some examples of claims general liability covers include:
- Property damage: If you accidentally drop your client’s laptop, general liability insurance typically covers the cost of repairing or replacing it
- Physical harm: If a delivery person slips on your wet floor, general liability pays their medical bills or your legal fees if they sue
- Advertising injuries: If a competitor claims you defamed them on social media, general liability covers your legal defense
Who Needs General Liability Insurance
General liability insurance is a fundamental commercial policy and is often combined with commercial property insurance in what is known as a business owner’s policy (BOP). Most business owners need some degree of general liability because it covers the most common lawsuits they face. These lawsuits can be very expensive and take up time owners could spend on building their businesses.
This coverage may be particularly important for owners who haven’t set up a legal business entity. Unincorporated businesses are sole proprietorships by default status, which the simplest form businesses can take. However, sole proprietors are personally responsible for their businesses’ debts, and judgments against the businesses can impact owners’ personal finances.
General Liability Insurance Costs for Small Businesses
Insurers look at many factors to determine a business’s general liability premiums. These include characteristics like the business’s industry, operations, and claims history, which are assigned different weight by each insurer. As a result, costs vary from business to business and from insurer to insurer, but most businesses can expect to pay between $400 – $700 annually.
How We Evaluated Commercial General Liability Insurance Companies
We evaluated the best general liability insurance companies by looking at the financial stability of carriers as well as the features of their general liability policies, including coverage limits, endorsement options, costs, and additional features. Lastly, we reviewed customer feedback to determine which general liability insurance companies generated positive comment from their policyholders.
Based on these concerns, we used the following criteria to evaluate general liability carriers:
- Costs: Each insurer uses its own method for calculating premium, so we compared quotes for a variety of industries, but we also looked for possible discounts and affordable payment plans, keeping in mind that the cheapest general liability insurance is not necessarily the best
- Policy options: Insurers’ underwriting rules can impact policy terms, including coverage limits and deductibles when applicable; some insurers may also offer bundled coverage or endorsements business owners can select to tailor their coverage further
- Online features: Insurance providers seldom offer online quotes or policy management; however, many business owners like these options so we factor them into our assessment
- Claims process: Some carriers make filing claims easier by developing specialized claims teams or offering 24/7 or online claims assistance
- Additional services: One-way insurers set themselves apart is by offering additional services, such as risk evaluation and management resources
- Customer reviews: Customer feedback was considered from several sources, including the Better Business Bureau and Feefo
- Financial stability: Financial stability is a key consideration when evaluating general liability insurers because it shows they can pay claims when the time comes, so we reviewed ratings from agencies like A.M. Best, Standard & Poor’s, and Moody’s
Just because business owners need general liability insurance doesn’t mean they have to accept whatever policy their local agents offer. General liability policies should match a business owner’s specific risks without destroying their budget. But to get the most value out of their dollars, business owners also want to consider policy terms, online availability, and additional services.
The Hartford: Best Overall Commercial General Liability Insurance Company for Small Businesses
The Hartford is the best overall general liability company for small businesses because it offers a basic general liability policy with generous limits, more endorsement options than most other carriers including one that bundles industry-specific coverages in an affordable package, and top-notch customer service. This, plus its solid finances make it ideal for most business owners.
The Hartford Costs
General liability insurance costs from The Hartford include:
- Minimum annual premium of $250
- Paid-in-full discount of 10%
- Additional discounts available for bundling
The Hartford also adds value for small business owners by partnering with other companies. Policyholders can access their partnership network for discounts on office supplies and equipment, business loans, and marketing services.
The Hartford Policy Options & Endorsements
General liability insurance policy options from The Hartford include:
- Limits of up to $2 million per occurrence and $4 million aggregate
- Coverage of up to $1 million for damage to rented premises
- Coverage of up to $10,000 per person for medical expenses
- Endorsements for internet-related advertising injury, data breaches, professional liability, and drones
The Hartford has a great basic general liability policy for small businesses in low-risk industries and can offer coverage to new business owners. However, it also has specialty general liability insurance designed for high-risk businesses like manufacturers, wholesalers, and distributors.
The Hartford Online Features
The Hartford is one of the few major carriers that offer an online application and quote platform. Business owners can still work directly with an agent if they prefer, but online quoting typically simplifies the process and saves business owners a lot of time.
Other online options from The Hartford include:
- Automatic payments
- Claim filing
- Paperless communications
- Certificates of insurance requests
The Hartford Financial Stability
The Hartford earns high rankings from all of the top credit rating agencies, indicating a low risk of defaulting on their ongoing policy and contract obligations. Small business owners who take out a policy with The Hartford can trust that covered claims will be paid.
What The Hartford Is Missing
The Hartford is known for providing quality general liability insurance for small business owners, and policyholders remark on its excellent customer service. However, it can be difficult to find details on available discounts or payment options.
The Hartford Customer Reviews
Customers tend to hold The Hartford in high regard. Online reviews focused on the company rather than individual agents are overwhelmingly positive, and many describe the claim experience as easy and fair. This may be partly due to The Hartford’s use of claims professionals who specialize in a line of business.
Hiscox: Best General Liability Insurance Company for High-risk Industries
Hiscox has been in business for more than 100 years and, in that time, it’s developed into a strong insurance provider for small businesses. Its general liability insurance offers high limits and optional business equipment coverage even when it isn’t bundled with commercial property, making it ideal for risk-prone industries like janitorial and landscaping.
Hiscox sets a minimum annual premium of $350, or about $30 a month, on its general liability insurance for small businesses. Bundle your policy with commercial property insurance, and the average premium is only $42 per month.
Other general liability insurance cost features from Hiscox include:
- Monthly payment plans for no extra charge
- A 14-day money back guarantee
- Multiple policy discount of 5%
- Up to a 5% discount for home-based businesses
Hiscox’s site also mentions reduced rates for proactive risk management, such as installing security systems or fire alarms.
Hiscox Policy Options & Endorsements
Hiscox’s general liability limits start where most insurers do, $2 million in aggregate. That’s the top when business owners quote online, but it can be bumped up to $5 million upon review.
Additional highlights for its general liability insurance for small business owners include automatic coverage for the actions of employees and temporary staff and a business equipment endorsement with coverage up to $25,000.
This last feature is a good option for owners who have some property exposures but not enough for a BOP or a standalone commercial property policy, such as small landscapers, contractors, and janitors.
Hiscox Online Features
Hiscox is another major carrier with online quoting and policy management capabilities. These are rare for insurers, and Hiscox’s features are exceptional. In addition to offering fast quotes online, the company’s customer portal lets policyholders request loss runs and policy documents, update business information, get certificates, and file claims. Few carriers offer so many options.
Hiscox Financial Stability
Hiscox received ratings of excellent from three of the credit rating agencies we checked. Unfortunately, we could not find a rating from Moody’s. However, the other three rank Hiscox as strong. This indicated Hiscox is capable of paying covered claims meeting other obligations.
What Hiscox Is Missing
Hiscox is one of the few commercial general liability insurance companies for small business that offers some cost data on its customer-facing site. That’s a big plus for business owners who are trying to decide if they should apply. However, coverage details can be hard to come to find.
Hiscox Customer Reviews
There is an abundance of online customer reviews for Hiscox small business insurance, and the vast majority of them are positive. Policyholders make particular mention of the company’s quick and professional customer service.
Allstate: Best Commercial General Liability Insurance Company for Customized Coverage
Thanks to its television commercials, corporate sponsorship, and personal lines products, Allstate is probably one of the best-known companies on our list. However, the company also insures businesses of all sizes. For small business owners, it offers general liability insurance in a BOP they can customize with industry-specific add-ons.
Allstate does not publish premium information about its general liability insurance. Its site makes no mention of discounts either. However, many outside sources say the company is a preferred provider for multiple regional and state trade associations, and these partnerships most likely include discounts for members.
Allstate: Policy Options & Endorsements
Allstate offers general liability insurance for small business owners in a bundled package called a BOP. The general liability portion has limits of up to $2 million per occurrence and $4 million aggregate, which is plenty for most small businesses.
Endorsement options from Allstate are based on industry and include coverage for:
- Data breaches
- Employment practices liability
- Professional liability
The commercial property portion of Allstate’s BOP also has industry-specific endorsement options, including coverage for damage to valuable papers and theft of money or securities.
Allstate Online Features
Allstate’s online customer portal is pretty impressive when you compare it to other national carriers. Perhaps the best feature is its online application, which avoids most of the insurance jargon that makes applying for coverage so tedious.
Additional online features from Allstate include:
- Policy management
- Claims filing and management
- Artificial intelligence chatbot for customer service assistance
Allstate Financial Stability
Allstate’s rankings are all very high, particularly the rank of Aa3 from Moody’s and AA- from Standard & Poor’s. These ratings indicate the company is exceptionally secure and a very low credit risk. Business owners can have peace of mind knowing their Allstate policies are covered in the event of a catastrophe.
What Allstate Is Missing
Allstate offers solid general liability insurance for small business owners either online or through a local agent, and owners can use the company’s online resources help business owners learn more about insurance. However, Allstate’s site lacks coverage details, and owners will likely end up talking to an agent to get their questions answered.
Allstate Customer Reviews
Allstate consistently earns high marks from policyholder and appears regularly in J.D. Powers’ annual rankings of small commercial providers. Many online reviewers also commented on the company’s streamlined digital experience, saying Allstate makes everything from quoting to claims easy.
CNA: Best General Liability Insurance Company for Small Businesses With Multiple Locations
CNA is one of the largest property and casualty insurance carriers in the nation. Its main product for small business is CNA Connect, which combines general liability and property in what’s usually called a BOP. In addition to offering higher-than-normal aggregate limits, CNA’s general liability automatically include limits for each business location.
Like most insurance carriers, CNA keeps its cost information close to the chest. Unfortunately, it also doesn’t share details about potential discounts either. What they do say is that business owners can exclude coverage from CNA Connect, allowing them to keep costs down.
CNA Policy Options & Endorsements
CNA offers an aggregate limit of up to $4 million on the general liability insurance in its BOP. That’s more than what’s standard and may be attractive to businesses on the larger side of small.
CNA Connect also makes its premises liability aggregate limits applicable at each location. Most insurers only offer this through an endorsement with an additional charge, but CNA includes it automatically, making it the ideal choice for a business with multiple locations.
CNA Online Features
The CNA website recently added a Get a Quote button, making it one of the few national carriers that let business owners get premium estimates online. The application is short and returns quotes quickly when they are available. Otherwise, consumers are directed to call.
Other online features offered by CNA include:
- Premium payments
- Claims filing
- Agent locator
CNA Financial Stability
CNA’s ratings from all four of the top credit agencies are strong. This means the company has solid financial backing and presents a low credit risk. Business owners can expect their covered claims with CNA to be paid.
What CNA Is Missing
CNA focuses solely on commercial insurance, which means it usually has broader general liability coverage than other insurers. It also prides itself in helping businesses of all sizes reduce risk. That said, its online features and premium information is limited when compared to others on our list.
CNA Customer Reviews
Online reviews for CNA are up and down. Positive reviews tend to focus on well-handled claims, while negative reviews often mention rate increases and poor communication. Customer service issues are mostly handled through the independent agent who sells the policy, so policyholders should compare agencies before choosing one with which to work.
Chubb: Best General Liability Insurance Company for Fast Claims Service
Chubb is a major player in commercial insurance, and it can write policies for any sized business, but it’s known for treating every account the same when it comes to customer service and claims. Small business owners can expect to see a response to a claim within 24 hours of filing.
Chubb does not publish information about general liability premium or discounts — which is common for major insurers that offer business policies. This is partly due to Chubb’s emphasis on designing industry-specific coverage. That said, Chubb’s main small business product is a BOP that covers property and liability exposures at a discounted rate.
Business owners should also note that online reviews often mention that Chubb offers broad coverage, but it doesn’t come cheap.
Chubb Policy Options & Endorsements
Like many of the insurance companies on this list, Chubb sells general liability for small business owners in a BOP. It’s available to businesses with up to $30 million in revenue, which means it probably fits a growing business too.
Chubb’s endorsements for general liability insurance for small business owners include:
- Data breaches
- Professional liability
- Employment practices liability
- Foreign liability
Chubb also offers policy enhancements like broad named insured and blanket additional insured that can help business owners extend coverage for other entities when necessary.
Chubb Online Features
Unfortunately, Chubb’s online features are minimal. Policyholders can pay bills, file claims, and access Chubb’s risk engineering resources, but there is no way to quote general liability insurance online. Policies are sold only through agents.
Chubb Financial Stability
Chubb has some of the highest credit ratings of all the carriers on our list, indicating the company has exceptionally strong finances that can help clients weather adverse business conditions. Business owners can rest assured that Chubb will meet policy obligations and pay covered claims.
What Chubb Is Missing
Chubb’s general liability starts with broad coverage and then adds the endorsements business owners need to tailor the policy to their exposures. However, it would be nice to know more about the policy terms, specifically coverage limits and sublimits.
Chubb Customer Reviews
Chubb isn’t a household name like some of the other commercial general liability insurance companies on this list, so online reviews are fairly rare. However, it boasts an 88 percent renewal rate, which shows policyholders like what they get.
Travelers: Best General Liability Insurance Company for Technology Businesses
Travelers may be best known for its personal lines, but the company has a robust selection of commercial products, too. Small business owners in 16 distinct industries can get general liability insurance by working with an independent agent. The company is particularly strong for technology businesses and offers coverage in a BOP.
Travelers is another major carrier that does not share information on how much general liability for small businesses costs or whether it offers any discounts. However, its main product for small business owners is its BOP, which is typically a discounted bundle of general liability and property coverage.
Travelers Policy Options & Endorsements
For small business owners, Travelers bundles its general liability with property insurance to form a BOP it’s branded Master Pac. Each Master Pac is industry-specific and can be tailored through a long list of endorsement options.
Depending on your industry, these endorsements may include coverage for:
- Data breaches
- Discrimination lawsuits
- Liquor liability
- Global exposures
Travelers’ general liability options for technology are especially strong. Its product has a generous aggregate limit of up to a $4 million and $300,000 for damages to rented premises. However, technology business owners can also add liability endorsements for broad named insured, blanket additional insureds, and blanket waiver of subrogation.
Travelers Online Features
Travelers offers all policyholders access to their policies through the MyTravelers customer portal. For small business owners, this is a convenient way to manage their policies all in one location.
Options on the MyTravelers portal include:
- Bill payment, including automatic payment registration
- Claim reporting
- Certificate of insurance requests
- Risk management resources
Travelers Financial Stability
Travelers also has very high ratings from all four of the top credit agencies, indicating the company is financially stable and a low credit risk. It also means Travelers has the resources to pay covered claims, which should give business owners peace of mind when they purchase insurance.
What Travelers Is Missing
Travelers is a popular choice for business owners because of their broad general liability insurance and endorsement options. While the MyTravelers portal is an exceptional example of online policy management, offering quotes online would make buying insurance easier for busy small business owners.
Travelers Customer Reviews
Online reviews for Travelers business insurance run the gamut, but there is one solid indication that policyholders like the products and service they get, and that’s the company’s retention rate. According to its most recent annual report, Travelers achieved the highest renewal rate in three years.
Premium is just one factor to consider when it comes to general liability insurance. Small business owners also need to look at policy terms, endorsement options, and other features to make sure they’re getting coverage that suits their needs to get the best value for their money. If that seems like a to decipher on your own, commercial insurance brokers can navigate these concerns and help you find an ideal policy for your small business.
Value is one reason so many small business owners get their general liability insurance from The Hartford. It offers a broad general liability policy with a low minimum premium. Plus, it makes getting quotes easy with its online platform.