Best General Liability Insurance in California

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Contributor, Benzinga
May 14, 2020

Ranked No. 1 for its business environment by U.S. News and World Report, California offers diversity and opportunities to business owners. To make the most of your business, you need to have the right insurance in place. Here’s Benzinga’s guide to general liability insurance, an essential type of business insurance for California business owners. 

Best General Liability Insurance Options in California

  • Best Overall for General Liability Insurance: The Hartford
  • Best for Tailored Coverage: Simply Business
  • Best for Small Businesses: Hiscox
  • Best for Self-Employed Professionals: Progressive
  • Best for Educational Resources: Nationwide
  • Best for Personal Service: Farmers Insurance

Best General Liability Insurance Options in California

Which insurance provider should you choose for your liability insurance? Here are Benzinga’s top picks for California. 

Best Overall for General Liability Insurance: The Hartford

The Hartford is a great choice for businesses of all sizes due to its 200 years of experience. It’s been rated as a highly ethical company by the Ethisphere Institute and has high ratings from its customers for claims experience. 

You can get a quick general liability quote from The Hartford online, or you can reach out for a more tailored discussion with an expert. If you have a higher-risk business like manufacturing, The Hartford can work with you to put a policy in place that meets your needs. 

Best for Tailored Coverage: Simply Business

Simply Business offers a comprehensive suite of business insurance that specializes in making it easy to insure your business. 

Whether you’re looking for construction workers' insurance or insurance for your startup, Simply Business helps you find the right coverage at the right price. 

Tell Simply Business a little bit about your business and you'll get almost-instantaneous affordable quotes from top insurance providers. You can look into general liability insurance that will cover your business and protect your massive claims made by clients, visitors, other businesses, etc. Plus, you can get covered in accordance with California law without overspending. 

Building your business is hard enough. Let Simply Business make it easier. Get a quote from Simply Business today.

Best for Small Businesses: Hiscox

  • securely through Hiscox's website
    securely through Hiscox's website
    Best For:
    Small businesses with both part and full-time employees
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Hiscox focuses on small business insurance and has over 100 years of experience working with a variety of small businesses. Today it insures over 300,000 small businesses. One of the reasons it’s a popular choice is that it offers flexible payment options so you can manage your cash flow. 

Hiscox works closely with you to determine how much general liability insurance you need. Its agents can also help you decide whether you should consider other types of business insurance. If you need to file a claim, it assigns a dedicated representative so you have a consistent point of contact. 

Best for Self-Employed Professionals: Progressive

Progressive’s affordable coverage makes it an excellent fit for self-employed professionals. It also allows you to tailor your general liability coverage to ensure your payments are affordable. 

Progressive makes it easy to manage your account and saves you valuable time. You can make payments and access your policy information online. You can also file and track claims online. Working with Progressive also gives you access to discounts on dental services, car rentals and more. This gives you more money to reinvest in your business. 

Best for Educational Resources: Nationwide

Nationwide offers an extensive educational resource center on its website so you can make informed decisions about your business. 

Nationwide can advise you on loss control and risk management to help you keep your insurance costs down. Nationwide is also highly rated by J.D. Power, a company that rates insurance and financial service providers. 

Best for Personal Service: Farmers Insurance

Farmers Insurance’s strength lies in its network of local agents. Farmers Insurance agents are small business owners themselves, so they understand the unique challenges you face. Your agent can help you research and decide how much liability insurance you need and answer any questions you have along the way. 

Your Farmers agent is also there for you when you need to file a claim. You have a person on your side who’s dedicated to making your business a success. 

Cost of General Liability Insurance in California

The cost of general liability insurance in California varies significantly depending on several factors. These include:

  • The number of employees you have
  • Your business type
  • Your business insurance claims history
  • Where your business is located
  • How long you’ve been in business

Since so many factors are involved, the best approach to determining the cost of liability insurance is to contact insurance companies for quotes. You can lower your insurance costs by opting for a higher deductible or a lower coverage amount. Your deductible is the amount of out-of-pocket costs you’re responsible for before your insurance coverage starts. 

You may also be eligible for discounts. Insurance companies offer discounts for:

  • Paying annually
  • Purchasing multiple policies through the same carrier
  • Installing security and fire alarms
  • Documenting safety procedures
  • Providing safety equipment for your employees
  • Keeping your business property in good repair

While general liability insurance may seem like another expense, not having liability insurance leaves you vulnerable if you’re sued. For most business owners, it’s more cost-effective to carry liability insurance. 

What Does General Liability Insurance Cover?

General liability insurance policies typically provide protection from these types of claims:

  • Bodily injury helps cover the costs if someone sues you due to an injury that occurs at your business. 
  • Damage to someone’s property helps cover costs if you or your employees are sued for damaging someone else’s property. 
  • Libel and slander helps cover legal costs if you’re sued for damaging another business’ reputation. 
  • Advertising injury helps cover costs if you are sued for using someone else’s work in your ads or for defaming another business in your advertising. 

General liability insurance doesn’t cover:

  • Employee illnesses or injuries — these are covered by workers’ compensation insurance. 
  • Auto accidents should be covered by commercial auto insurance. 
  • Damage to your business property could include damage, fire and theft. You’ll need to get commercial property insurance instead. 
  • Errors in professional services can help you if you or your employees are sued for not using your professional expertise appropriately. You won’t be covered by general liability insurance. For this type of coverage, you’ll need professional liability insurance (also known as malpractice insurance). 

You can purchase a standalone general liability insurance policy. Another option is to buy a business owner’s policy (BOP). A BOP bundles general liability insurance, business interruption insurance and business property insurance. Business interruption insurance helps you replace lost income if you need to close your business for a covered loss like property damage. A BOP provides more comprehensive coverage at a potentially lower cost than buying each type of policy separately. 

Do I Need General Liability Insurance? 

You’ve worked hard to start or build your business. A lawsuit can be expensive and stressful to deal with. The Hartford estimates that 4 out of 10 small business owners will experience a property or general liability claim in the next 10 years. Even if you take every precaution you can, accidents can still happen. 

General liability insurance is worth considering for most business owners. In particular, you should consider it if you interact with the general public, work on other people’s property or advertise your business. 

For many business owners, general liability insurance is a starting point. If you have employees, most states require you to purchase workers’ compensation insurance as well. If you produce a product, you may want to purchase product liability insurance. To find out more about how much business insurance costs and what coverage you should purchase, the best approach is to contact multiple insurance providers. 

Benzinga’s quote tool makes that easy. Just enter your ZIP code and click on 2 or 3 providers to get a quote. Review each quote carefully and choose the provider that offers a combination of value and business expertise.