If you are running one of the 4.1 million small businesses in California, you probably know that general liability insurance is the most popular coverage for small businesses. It protects small businesses from the most common lawsuits, which are related to bodily injuries and property damages caused to a third party. If small businesses can only afford one insurance policy, it is often advised and recommended that general liability insurance is the one.
Small businesses in California can buy general liability insurance online easily. There are a number of reputable insurance companies that can help you get the coverage you need quickly and easily. And since rates vary from company to company, it’s important to compare prices before you buy. So take a few minutes and shop around. You’ll be glad you did.
- Where to buy California general liability insurance online?
- Buy California general liability insurance online from digital brokers
- Buy California general liability insurance online from insurance companies
- Buy California general liability insurance through a Business Owners Policy (BOP)
- Is general liability insurance required in California?
- Which types of businesses should have general liability insurance in California?
- How much does California general liability insurance cost?
- How to find cheap California general liability insurance?
Where to buy California general liability insurance online?
You can buy California general liability insurance online from either digital brokers or insurance companies that offer quotes online and allow customers to buy the policy online. Companies that allow customers to buy a policy online are also likely to offer capabilities for customers to manage the policy online as well. These tend to be newer companies or established legacy companies that have gone through the digital transformation process to build their digital capabilities.
As they are able to offer these digital capabilities, they can also cut unnecessary costs and make their rates more affordable.
Buy California general liability insurance online from digital brokers
These are not insurance companies, instead, they partner with many different insurance companies to bring you several quotes, just by filling out one form. It makes it very easy to comparison shop.
- Simply Business: Best broker to find low-cost general liability coverage
- InsurePro: Best for flexible pay-per-day coverage
- CoverWallet: Best for comparing several quotes online
- Commercialinsurance.net: Best for working with knowledgeable agents
Buy California general liability insurance online from insurance companies
These are legitimate insurance companies that operate almost completely online. You can find a policy, pay a bill, and file a claim online. It’s usually easy to get an online quote from them, too.
- NEXT: Best for contractors
- Thimble: Best for gig workers and short-term general liability coverage, ie. just a few days
- The Hartford: Best if you prefer a highly reputable carrier with 200+ years of experience
Who should consider buying California general liability insurance through an agent
Businesses that have complex insurance needs, like if you are in a high-risk industry or if you do more than one thing, should consider talking to an agent to sort out their needs. There are definitely pros and cons to working with an agent.
- A really good insurance agent can save you money by recommending what types of policies you need, and telling you what you don’t need
- Agents with a lot of industry experience can help you know how much insurance to purchase
- You’ll have a contact person to reach out to if you have questions or concerns
- Agents will know what discounts you might qualify for
- Some agents work on commission, and therefore might try to sell you insurance you don’t need
- You may be pressured to spend more than you can afford
- Agents are human, and some are amazing, and others are not that great. Your experience is directly dependent on how good your agent is at their job.
Some insurance companies prefer to work through agents. Some such companies are:
- State Farm
The important thing is to shop around and get quotes from different companies.
Buy California general liability insurance through a Business Owners Policy (BOP)
A business owners policy (BOP) combines general liability insurance with commercial property insurance. Sometimes these policies can also include business interruption insurance. If you own property, or if your equipment is worth a considerable amount, a business owners policy (BOP) could be perfect for you.
Pros of a BOP:
- Saves money over purchasing the policies separately
- Provides coverage that most businesses need
- It’s easy
Cons of a BOP:
- May provide more coverage than you really need
- May not provide enough protection in some cases: for example, if your equipment is really expensive, it may not cover the cost of replacement
Learn more at the best BOP insurance companies
Is general liability insurance required in California?
The state of California does not require general liability insurance unless you are a construction business. However, some clients and employers do require it, especially if you’re a contractor. Some landlords will require commercial property insurance or a business owners policy before they’ll consider renting you a commercial space. Also, you should know that, unlike many states, California does not cap lawsuit liability awards.
Which types of businesses should have general liability insurance in California?
Most businesses need general liability insurance. Accidents happen, and you never expect them: that’s why they’re called accidents. If you see clients at their homes or in your home, if you lease a professional space for your business, or if you advertise, you should consider getting a general liability policy.
Below are the types of businesses that always get general liability insurance in California:
|Hair & beauty salons||Nail salons||Barber shops|
How much general liability insurance coverage small businesses should have in California?
Here’s a not-so-fun fact: California is fifth in the country for states where small business owners face the highest risk of being sued. California has strict laws, lots of rules and regulations, and if someone really wants to sue, they can find a reason. Many insurance carriers recommend that small businesses in California have somewhere between $500,000 and $1 million in liability insurance.
How much does California general liability insurance cost?
Small businesses in California pay an average of $72 per month, or $864 per year for a $1MM general liability insurance policy.
Most small businesses in California pay between $35 and $175 per month for the general liability policy. That is a wide range since general liability insurance cost varies depending on several factors that we discuss in detail below.
Keep in mind that these are just the averages. Your rates will be different. Be sure to shop around with a few companies (NEXT, Thimble) or work with a top broker like InsurePro, Simply Business, or CoverWallet to compare several quotes to find the cheapest one for your business.
Learn more about how much general liability insurance costs in California
What factors impact California general liability insurance cost?
There are many factors that will influence how much you pay for general liability insurance. Some of them are:
- Industry (some businesses carry more risks than others)
- Location (in case you hadn’t noticed, California is huge. There are sprawling cities, many rural areas, and everything in between). Usually the bigger the city, the more you’ll pay
Industry and location are the factors most affecting how much you’ll pay, but other factors are:
- Experience in your business
- Number of employees
- Claims history
- Coverage limits
How to find cheap California general liability insurance?
The best way to save money on general liability insurance (or any insurance, really) is to shop around. For just the cost of a few hours, you could save hundreds of dollars a year on insurance.
You can also bundle the policies you need. Even if you only need general liability insurance, it pays to get your car insurance or your homeowners insurance from the same company so you can get a discount.
Choose a higher deductible, but make sure you can cover the cost of the deductible if you need to file a claim.
Consider paying in full, if you can. This usually gets you a small discount.
Manage your risks appropriately. Make sure employees are well-trained. Emphasize safety over speed. Post a safety program and make sure everyone follows it.
What does California general liability insurance cover?
General liability insurance covers some of the most common occurrences that people tend to sue over, like:
- Third-party bodily injury
- Property damage
- Advertising injury
- Copyright infringement
Third-party bodily injury refers to customers and vendors–everyone who is not you or your employees (your employees are covered by workers’ compensation insurance, and you can’t sue yourself, so you’re not covered at all). Your business is being held accountable for someone’s injury. For example, say you run a hip, trendy vegan restaurant in San Francisco. On the way to their table, your customer trips and falls over a grape that fell out of a salad. They break a wrist. General liability insurance would cover you for that.
Third-party property damage is also a key element of general liability insurance. If you visit customers in their homes, or touch their property in some way (perhaps you own a valet parking company). For example, you’re a contractor and you visit a customer to discuss adding an addition to their home. You trip over a wrinkled rug, and to catch yourself, you put out your hand. Unfortunately, your hand landed on the customer’s priceless vase. Oops. If you had general liability insurance, you would be covered and your insurance would pay for the damage (up to the limits of the policy: hopefully, it wasn’t really priceless).
Advertising injury occurs if you or your business defames another person or business and that defamation causes them financial harm. For example, if you own a bakery and in one of your ads, you mention your competitor was cited by the board of health, the owner of the maligned bakery could sue you.
Copyright infringement occurs when you use someone’s intellectual or creative property without their permission. For example, say you are redesigning your website and you come across a lovely photo that is just perfect. If you use the photo without the photographer’s permission, he/she could sue you for copyright infringement.
General liability insurance would cover the medical payments, court costs, lawyers fees, and the cost of replacing/repairing property damage.
General liability insurance doesn’t cover everything, though: anything you do with intent is not covered. Also, some things fall under different types of insurance, such as workers compensation for employee injuries and commercial property insurance which covers your own property.
Business insurance coverage for California small businesses
Usually, when people say “business insurance” or “small business insurance” they mean general liability insurance. However, there are many types of business insurance, it’s just that general liability is the most common, and, arguably, most useful.
However, there are other types of business insurance.
Professional liability insurance
Sometimes this is called errors & omissions insurance. Anyone who gives advice or provides a service in a professional capacity needs professional liability insurance to protect themselves from mistakes and omissions. It’s also called malpractice insurance when used by medical professionals and lawyers.
Workers compensation insurance
General liability insurance only covers customers, vendors, and others. If your employee gets injured on the job, you’ll need workers compensation insurance to pay for their medical costs. In California, you are required to have workers compensation insurance if you have even one employee. You can buy workers compensation insurance from either a private insurance company, or you can use the state fund.
Learn more at the best workers comp insurance companies in California
Commercial auto insurance
If you use any vehicle for business purposes, you need commercial auto insurance. Business purposes include anything from visiting clients, going to business appointments, meeting with salespeople: anything other than commuting back and forth. If you drive an Uber or for Lyft, you can get rideshare insurance, but your personal insurance policy will not cover you if they find out you are using your vehicle to carry out business activities.
Commercial property insurance
Your own property is covered under commercial property insurance. Anything your business owns is protected from unforeseen events, such as fire, theft, vandalism, weather, etc. Usually damage from floods and earthquakes is not covered, but you can get them added on for an additional expense.
Learn more at the best commercial property insurance companies
Cyber liability insurance
These days, almost every business conducts some business online. If you have access to customer’s sensitive information, such as banking, social security numbers, and credit cards, cyber liability insurance will protect you in case of hacking, phishing, malware or cyber attacks. Since cyber attacks can cost even a small business upwards of $2 million dollars, you should seriously consider cyber liability insurance.
Learn more at the best cyber liability insurance companies
D&O insurance, or Directors and Officers insurance, protects the officers and directors of a company from personal losses if someone sues as a result of a decision they make. It’s like E&O insurance, but for the head(s) of a company.
Learn more at the best D&O insurance companies
Product liability insurance
Product liability insurance protects you from lawsuits if a product you manufacture or produce causes harm or injury to someone. It has to be physical harm, so if you work in IT or SaaS, you probably don’t need product liability insurance, unless your software somehow caused a computer to catch fire.
Learn more at the best product liability insurance companies