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The Best General Contractor Insurance Options for 2023

Adam Grabois - Updated January 9, 2023
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The Best General Contractor Insurance Options for 2023

Best Overall: Next

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**Cost & Coverage: **

  • Instantaneous general contractor insurance quotes and coverage with competitive premiums
  • Save around 30% on business and commercial insurance coverage options
  • Fully online and 100% mobile app

Customer Satisfaction & Convenience:

  • Next has one of the highest ratings
  • Many types of business insurance are available, even roofing contractors
  • "A-" AM Best rating for financial strength

Best for Licensed Contractors: Hiscox

hiscox-logo

Cost & Coverage:

  • Rapid online quotes and speedy claims process
  • Covers hundreds of specialties and professions, even electrical contractors

Customer Satisfaction & Convenience:

"A" AM Best Rating

Founded in the year 1901

Best for Quick Coverage: Coverwallet

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Cost & Coverage:

  • Free, no-obligation business insurance products and policy quotes
  • A rated carriers to compare coverage types and pricing

Customer Satisfaction & Convenience:

  • Personalized commercial insurance broker service
  • Help shopping for various forms of insurance and coverage limits
  • Digital policy wallet with excellent customer service reviews

Best Temporary Coverage: Thimble

thimble-logo

Cost & Coverage:

  • Complete range of insurance coverage for construction businesses
  • Flexibility per project financial resources, even per job, or by month

Customer Satisfaction & Convenience:

  • "A" AM Best Rating
  • Exceptionally easy quote process
  • Convenient payment options, including pausing or canceling policies instantly

Best for Online Quotes: CommercialInsurance.net

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Cost & Coverage:

  • Online quote process
  • Commercial insurance bound in minutes

Customer Satisfaction & Convenience:

  • Multiple insurance companies committed by a customer satisfaction guarantee
  • Effortless policy and financial strength ratings comparison

What Is General Contractor Insurance?

outdoor-building

General Contractor insurance is a type of business owners policy, or "BOP," that packages different lines of coverage into a single insurance product. These lines include general liability, or "GL," property damage, bodily injury, as well as personal and advertising injury. BOPs are appropriate for small and medium-sized construction businesses. For larger general contractors—with higher value construction projects or revenues in the millions—a Commercial General Liability policy, or "CGL," are available. Separate commercial property insurance policies are also available. This can be for coverage of general contractor-owned buildings, personal property, or protection for other types of perils, losses, and property damage.

Do I Actually Need General Contractor Insurance?

Yes, insurance for general contractors is an absolute requirement. Many states will not issue or renew a license for a general contractor unless a certificate of insurance is provided that proves general liability and workers compensation insurance are in place and active. Few owners or businesses will hire a general contractor that does not have evidence of appropriate insurance. Oftentimes, clients will request they be named as an additional insured on the general contractor's certificate of insurance. Some cities and counties will not issue a building permit without proof from a general contractor or owner of appropriate insurance.

What does General Contractor Insurance cover?

General Contractor insurance covers general liability and property damage. This can include legal costs to defend against a claim, medical payments or medical bills related to bodily injury, and a wide variety of property damage, including weather damage. General contractors, also called just "GCs," specialize in constructing, renovating, and installating buildings, various structures and systems, on land or in the environment surrounding them. The business of building is extremely hazardous, and it is also very cost, time, and capital-intensive. Both the materials and labor required to build buildings are expensive and limited by resources—especially time. Commonly, debt or interest accrues on loans or mortgages during the timeline of a construction project. This additional cost means delays and losses can be financially disastrous. Safety is also a major concern in the building trade. General contractors are responsible for protecting and providing safe working conditions for their employees and the public.

Because general contractors have so much responsibility, they need the right type of coverage for a wide range of the work they do. This is to protect their own financial interests, as well as their clients' interests and their business reputation.

What type of insurance do you need for a general contractor business?

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At a minimum, general contractors need a business owner's policy that includes general liability, property damage, and workers compensation. Some general contractors do not self-perform work and instead contract labor out to other construction companies, trades, or laborers, called subcontractors. Subcontractors also often need to provide the general contractor with proof of general liability as well as "workers comp." Before each payment is made to a subcontractor, general contractors usually request a waiver that accompanies an application for payment. This waives financial payment claims for the value of work already performed.

Even if the general contractor performs no work or has a single employee, states often require licensed general contractors to carry workers compensation coverage as mandated by law. There are many types of construction companies, subcontractors, trades, and consultants in the construction industry. Some companies just act as construction managers that supervise general contractors on a project. While the risk is lower for construction managers, they still carry liability coverage for the benefit of their clients and need a comprehensive insurance policy.

Bonds are also a common type of protection needed by both general contractors and subcontractors. This is especially true on government projects or projects tens of millions of dollars and above. A bond is not insurance but is a contract between several parties that promises the fulfillment of an obligation. We will discuss more about bonds below.

How Much Does General Contractor Insurance Cost?

The cost of general contractor insurance depends on the value of the projects a general contractor performs. Some handymen that perform small jobs may even be a licensed or registered general contractor. Licensing bodies and city and county building departments frequently require millions of dollars of coverage. Average policies should run about $100 per month for small policies to much more. Workers compensation is typically also required and is usually expensive, running several thousand per year. The reason it's expensive is because rates are regulated 'and injuries are quite common on even small projects. Sometimes general contractors will only bind policies during the course of projects and pause or cancel them upon completion to save on the high annual premiums.

What to Consider When Choosing One of the Best General Contractor Insurance Companies

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Here are a few factors to carefully consider when shopping for a general contractor insurance policy:

AM Best Rating

AM Best is an insurance rating agency founded in 1899. They review and rate the financial strength of insurance companies. Their plus-and-minus letter grades judge an insurance carrier's ability to meet the obligations to its policyholders. Always look for a carrier that has an "A" rating, with no less than a "B."

Coverage Area

General Contractor insurance should fit the type of company, type of work, and location of work it performs. For example, a general contractor that works repairing marinas in coastal waters nationwide, will need different coverage than a builder that just builds single-family homes in one county. Also, certificates of insurance can feature the name of additional insured and a specific property or site address that is being worked on by a GC. Look for a carrier that offers the flexibility to add additional insured for various project locations, and one that covers your general contracting company wherever you build projects.

Coverage Amount

Construction disputes are very time-consuming and expensive to litigate. A lawsuit can cause delays and add significant costs to a project. Look for general contractor insurance that provides the broadest coverage, with the highest property limits, at a fair premium price, for the full duration of projects.

Business Type

General Contractor businesses exist in many forms. This includes sole proprietors, partnerships, joint ventures, LLCs, S-Corporations, and C-Corporations. The type of business structure—as well as project size, revenues, and type of work you perform—will determine what affects what type of general contractor insurance coverage is needed.

Quote Process

Construction may be complex, but getting a quote for general contractor's insurance is simple. Many carriers now offer online instant quotes for small to large construction companies. Some carriers may ask for proof of incorporation, proof of licensure, or even an AIA construction contract with a schedule of values for specific projects.

Claims Process

Claims are frequently handled electronically. Carriers may ask for digital photos of the loss and a sworn statement. What documentation may be required depends on the type of loss. If there was a fire and the fire department was dispatched, a fire department report, and even a police report may be requested—especially in the case of theft or if an accident results in a worker dying. On large losses, insurance claims adjusters may inspect the property or send construction consultants to evaluate the extent and cost of the damage. Public adjusters may be hired by an insured if the insurance carrier denies a claim or disputes covered elements or the cost or extent of damages.

Deductible

Deductibles are a financial strategy insurance companies use to discourage small, frivolous, or false claims by policyholders. A deductible is a stipulated sum of money the insured must pay towards a loss before the insurance will pay benefits on a loss. If a policy has a $5,000 deductible and a loss only amounts to $2,000 in damages, the insured will be responsible for paying the full amount of the claim with no participation by the carrier. Every policy period or year, the deductible typically resets until the deductible is exceeded. If there are multiple losses in a single year, once the deductible is satisfied by the insured, the insurance carrier will be responsible for first-dollar coverage of any claims.

The higher your deductible, typically, the lower your premiums are. Some deductibles for general contractors can be $100,000 or more for large projects. When choosing a general contractor policy, carefully evaluate your business needs and expenses against the lump sum cash requirement for a large deductible.

Additional Policies

Each general contractor business is different and has unique needs. While business owner's policy include many types of coverage, certain policies may also be needed by some builders but not others. Stand-alone policies, endorsements, or add-on coverage include:

  • Commercial Auto Insurance

    • General contractors or subcontractors need commercial auto insurance for their specialized trucks, vehicles, and wide variety of mobile equipment that would not be fully covered by a traditional personal auto policy or business auto policy. Commercial auto policy for builders can accommodate both broader and more specialized coverage, with higher limits for general contractors.
  • Inland Marine

    • When general contractors install large, complex, or expensive equipment—such as an industrial rooftop air-conditioning or refrigeration unit—specialized coverage, known as inland marine insurance, can be purchased on the item until it is transported or safely installed in a project. This type of coverage can sometimes be called a floater.
  • Builders Risk Insurance

    • Builders Risk is specialized property coverage that offers protection during the construction process. It also may protect building materials and any construction supplies and equipment that will be affixed permanently in a building or near the premises. This coverage typically begins and ends with the project duration and does not cover pre-existing damage, losses, or conditions.
    • Surety Bond
    • Here are the various types of surety bonds.
    • Bid bonds - required in order to bid on a large project
    • Performance bonds - A promise that the contractor will fully complete a project.
    • Payment bonds - A promise that a contractor will pay its subcontractors, vendors, and suppliers, so as to not impact project finances or schedule.
    • Surety Bonds are a common requirement general contractors and subcontractors must provide their clients as a form of contractual and financial guarantee. Common types of bonds general contractors need to provide are:
  • Tools and Equipment Insurance

    • Tools and equipment insurance is an additional type of coverage that protects expensive tools of the trade and a variety of equipment, like lifts or power tools, from a variety of perils and losses.
  • Errors & Omissions Insurance

    • Professional liability insurance, sometimes called E&O insurance, is valuable coverage for general contractors. A variety of moral hazards--tendencies to increase a chance of loss--and morale hazards --attitude or indifference to loss--could result in major claims on a building project. Architects and engineers specifically should seek coverage to protect against unintended errors made during the design or construction process.

How to get general contractor insurance

Getting licensed as a general contractor may be a challenge, but getting the right insurance coverage is a cinch. Here are a couple of steps you need to follow:

  1. Determine what type of policies and how much coverage you need

General contractors all need business owners policies that include general liability and property damage, as well as workers compensation. Choose your amount of coverage based on the value of your construction contracts or the value of the buildings you work on.

  1. Get multiple quotes

Always get a few separate quotes from different companies, to compare cost and coverage. Sometimes shorter coverage can be more affordable than a quote for the entire year. Some commercial carriers often require full payment of the premiums for the bound period of coverage. Look for one that will either finance premiums or offer easy monthly installments.

  1. Compare providers and purchase a policy

Insurance protection is only as good as the quality and financial strength of a carrier. Some policies, like coverage procured with Lloyd's of London, may split coverages between carrier and reinsurance companies, to spread the risk of a large policy between them. Look for a carrier that has excellent communication and online tools to help you operate your construction business effectively.

Best options for general contractor insurance

Hiscox Insurance

In addition to instant online quotes, Hiscox insurance offers monthly premium payments and a business support hub where you can get expert insurance agents to help with complex commercial liability insurance for your construction projects. With 100 years of experience, they are a great option for general contractor insurance coverage.

Other great web options where you can get a quote and compare premiums:

  • Next Insurance
  • Commercial Insurance.net
  • Insurance 321
  • Coverwallet
  • Thimble

Do You Need a General Contractor License to Start Your Business?

Most local building departments require a license of registration to become a general contractor. Some require education and a qualifying test before issuing a license. In addition to licensing, general contractors may be required to post a bond, submit to a criminal and credit background check, and carry adequate general liability and workers comp.

Frequently Asked Questions


Do you acutally need professional liability insurance as a general contractor?

Yes, however some cities, like New York, don't offer or require a general contractor license. Still, permits often require proof of insurance or proof of licensure for electrical and plumbing trades.

What does general contractor insurance cover?

General contractor insurance covers general liability, which protects the insured from costs related to legal actions, property damage, or personal injury. It may even cover advertising injury where the reputation or marketing causes infringement or financial harm to another business.

What's the best liability insurance for general contractors?

The best liability insurance policy is the one that affordably fits the needs of your general contracting business. One of the best and oldest carriers is Hiscox, which offers excellent support in the event of a claim.

What is occurrence versus claims made, and which do I need as a general contractor?

An occurrence policy covers losses during the policy period, even if the policy is no longer in force. This means that claims filed even after a policy has expired may be covered. A claims made policy covers loss and claims made only while the policy is in force. It also may limit coverage before the start of the policy, retroactively. Both are worthwhile protection, but general contractors may benefit from occurrence policies because damage or latent defects in the construction may manifest well after the completion of a project.

What is a Certificate of Insurance?

A Certificate of Insurance, sometimes called an ACORD form, is proof that coverage is in place. It lists the carrier, the name of the insured, the insurance broker, as well as the amount and types of coverages. There is a space on the certificate of insurance to name additional insured, such as clients or building owners, as well as the address of the physical location of project sites.

Are there deductibles for general contractor insurance?

Yes, general contractor insurance usually features deductibles. There are also policy limits that determine how much total an insurance company will pay an insured for a loss.

What are some examples of claims for general contractors?

Many things can go wrong on a construction project that have a financial, quality, or scheduling impact. Construction errors, accidents, professional mistakes, faulty workmanship, material defects, vandalism, construction equipment theft, inclement weather, fire, and unintentional and intentional delays all may result in a claim. Because of the nature of general contracting, many claims can come from subcontractors and subcontracted vendors or employees. Injuries and associated medical bills are very common claims on construction projects. In the case of a subcontractor injured by the negligence of a general contractor, a hold harmless agreement may mean that the general contractor insurance carrier is not required to pay a claim because of a contractual liability exclusion.

Can you access your general contractor insurance online?

Yes, multiple carriers now let you quote, bind, and store your insurance policy. You can even modify or download a certificate of insurance at the touch of a button.

Can you access your general contractor insurance through an app

Yes, carriers like Next Insurance and Hiscox Now both have mobile apps that make accessing your policy seamless, even while on a construction site.

Who has the cheapest general contractor insurance policy?

Cheapest does not mean best, and the wrong type of coverage could be financially disastrous for your general contracting business. If you want to compare and contrast multiple carriers at once, try commercialinsurance.net.

How long does it take for my new liability insurance for general contractors to kick in?

General contracting insurance can be purchased immediately and made effective as soon as payments and any request documentation has been uploaded.

Adam Grabois

Adam Grabois

Lead Insurance Writer

Adam Grabois is a Florida based Insurance Broker and Certified Professional Claims Adjuster. He is a graduate of Tufts University and Columbia University. Working as project and portfolio manager for decades, Adam has dealt with all manner of complex issues related to protecting business and personal assets for clients nationwide. An advocate for educated consumers, Adam is committed to sharing informative, high quality information and strategies to help manage risk. He can be reached on LinkedIn [linkedin.com/in/allneeds](https://www.linkedin.com/in/allneeds).

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