General Liability Insurance for Contractors

The contractor industry is a complex and constantly evolving field that involves a broad range of businesses and services. From construction and remodeling to landscaping and electrical work, contractors work in various sectors and are often exposed to potential risks and liabilities. General liability insurance is a crucial tool for contractors and other small businesses that face various risks and uncertainties in their day-to-day operations. In this article, we will explore what general liability insurance is, how it works, and why contractors need it.

What is the contractor industry like?

The contractor industry encompasses a wide range of businesses that offer services in construction, renovation, repair, maintenance, and other related areas. Contractors may work as sole proprietors or small businesses, and their services may include anything from building homes and commercial properties to installing HVAC systems, plumbing, and electrical wiring.

Possible risks involved in contracting

Contractors face various risks and liabilities in their line of work. These may include property damage, bodily injury, theft, and other losses that can cause financial harm to the contractor or their clients. Some common risks in the contracting industry are as follows:

  • Injury to third parties such as workers, clients, or bystanders
  • Accidental damage to property or equipment
  • Breach of contract or professional negligence leading to financial losses to clients
  • Legal claims and lawsuits arising from disputes or accidents

Without proper protection, the potential financial and reputational damage brought by these risks can be disastrous for the contractor and their business. This is why general liability insurance is crucial for contractors.

What is general liability insurance for contractors?


General liability insurance (GLI) is a type of insurance policy that provides coverage for businesses and individuals against claims of physical injury, bodily harm, property damage, and other liabilities. It is designed to offer financial protection to companies in situations where they are held liable for damages to third parties, whether they are clients, vendors, employees, or others.

For contractors, general liability insurance is an essential tool to mitigate the risks and liabilities involved in their work. It provides coverage for claims and lawsuits arising from accidents, injuries, and damages related to their business activities.

Coverage provided

The coverage provided by general liability insurance for contractors typically includes the following:

  • Bodily injury and property damage liability: Coverage for claims arising from accidents or injuries caused by the contractor or their employees during work operations
  • Product liability: Coverage for claims arising from defects in products or services provided by the contractor
  • Personal and advertising injury: Coverage for claims of libel, slander, copyright infringement, and other types of harm arising from advertising or personal activities related to the contractor's business
  • Medical payments: Coverage for minor medical expenses arising from accidents on the contractor's premises, regardless of fault
  • Legal fees: Coverage for hiring a lawyer to defend your business against any claims filed, among other legal services. However, this only applies to certain suits as outlined in the policy

Types of claims covered under the policy

General liability insurance for contractors typically covers claims arising from the following situations:

  • Accidents causing bodily injury or property damage
  • Product or service defects causing harm or property damage
  • Advertising and personal injury claims
  • Medical expenses arising from accidents on the contractor's premises

It is important to note that general liability insurance does not cover claims arising from intentional acts or deliberate fraud. Additionally, certain types of losses, such as those related to pollution or professional liability, may be excluded from the policy depending on the insurer and the type of coverage selected.

How does general liability insurance for contractors work?

Policy limits and deductibles

The coverage provided by a general liability insurance policy for contractors is subject to certain limits and deductibles. The limit of liability is the maximum amount the insurer will pay for claims arising from a covered event, while the deductible is the amount the insured must pay out of pocket before the insurer will begin to pay. The policy limits and deductibles may vary depending on the type of coverage, the insurer, and other factors.

Claims process and filing procedure

When a third-party claim is filed against a contractor, the claims process begins. The policyholder must notify their insurance provider immediately after the incident occurs, and a claims adjuster will investigate the claim. The adjuster will determine whether the claim is covered by the policy, and they will review evidence, witness statements, and any other relevant information to determine a settlement. The insurance company will then pay out the agreed-upon amount to the third-party in question, up to the limits of the policy.

Responsibilities and obligations of the insured

The insured party is responsible for informing their insurance provider of any potential claims and ensuring they follow the terms of the policy. If the policyholder fails to fulfill their obligations, such as not paying premiums or providing false information, the insurance provider may reject the insurance claim. Additionally, the insured party must take reasonable precautions, such as maintaining a safe work environment, to avoid third-party accidents and low incidents.

Initial considerations in purchasing a policy

When selecting a general liability insurance policy, contractors must consider their industry-specific risks and any exclusions that may be present in the policy. The policy must provide sufficient coverage for property damage and bodily injury claims. Contractors must also consider the policy limits and deductibles to ensure that the policy provides adequate coverage. Lastly, contractors must compare coverage options and costs to determine the best option for their needs.

Need help with your surety bond?
Call 1 (888) 236-8589 to talk to one of our surety experts today.
Request a free quote online
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

How to obtain general liability insurance as a contractor?

There are several steps that contractors must follow to obtain general liability insurance. 

Step 1: Research and compare insurance providers to determine the best provider for their needs.
Step 2: Speak with an insurance agent or broker to discuss the policy details and determine the adequate coverage required for the policy.
Step 3: Apply for the policy and provide any necessary documentation, such as proof of licensure and certification.

Why do contractors need general liability insurance?

Protection from financial losses

General liability insurance provides coverage for damages and legal fees in situations where the contractor is held liable for injuries or damages caused to third parties.

Peace of mind and risk management

Having general liability insurance can provide contractors with peace of mind knowing that they are protected against potential risks and liabilities in their work.

Legal and contractual requirements

Many government agencies and clients require contractors to have general liability insurance as a condition of doing business.

Competitive advantage and professional image

Having general liability insurance can help contractors differentiate themselves from their competitors and present a professional image to their clients.

Types of general liability insurance policies available for contractors

There are three main types of general liability insurance policies available for contractors: occurrence-based policies, claims-made policies, and umbrella liability policies.

Occurrence-based policies

Occurrence-based policies cover third-party claims that occur during the policy period, whether or not the claim is filed during this time.

Claims-made policies

Claims-made policies cover claims that are filed during the policy period, regardless of when the incident occurred. This type of policy does not retroactively cover incidents that occurred before the policy was in place.

Umbrella liability policies

An umbrella liability policy provides additional coverage in the event that the limits of the primary policy have been exhausted.

Factors to consider when purchasing general liability insurance for contractors

When purchasing general liability insurance, contractors must consider several factors:

Industry-specific risks and exclusions

Each industry has specific risks associated with it that vary from other industries. Contractors must determine the risks associated with their industry and ensure that the policy covers these items. Moreover, many policies have exclusions, or specific cases where the policy does not provide coverage; contractors must be aware of these exclusions and ensure that they are covered by the policy add-ons.

Policy limits and deductibles

It is essential to consider the policy limits and deductibles, which can directly affect the policy premiums. Contractors must ensure that the policy limits match the risks associated with their business and assess their risk tolerance regarding the deductibles to keep policy costs affordable.

Additional coverage options and endorsements

Additional coverage options and endorsements allow contractors to tailor policies to meet their specific needs. Contractors must determine if add-ons, such as Cyber Liability, Errors & Omissions, and pollution endorsements, should be added to their policy to manage business risk and adequately cover their businesses.

Cost and affordability

Lastly, contractors must determine their budget for general liability coverage to purchase an affordable policy without compromising coverage offerings.


General liability insurance is an essential component of any contractor's risk management strategy. It protects you and your business from potentially devastating financial losses resulting from claims of injury or damage caused to third parties during the course of your work. By understanding the coverage provided, how it works, and the different policy options available, you can make informed decisions and ensure that your business is adequately protected. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can put yourself and your business in the best possible position to succeed and thrive.