What company offers the best small-business insurance?
Whether it’s auto insurance, homeowners or renters insurance, or life insurance, chances are good you have at least one personal insurance policy to your name. It’s a little easier to sleep at night knowing you and your loved ones have some measure of financial protection should your luck turn.
Can you say the same for your business? Every small-business owner faces a litany of risks, from traffic accidents to storm damage to defective products or unsatisfactory services. Without adequate financial protection, those risks could prove fatal for your company.
Small-business insurance can help. But it’s complicated, making it all the more important to choose the right small-business insurer for your needs.
The Best Small-Business Insurance Companies
These are the best small-business insurance companies on the market right now.
Each company on this list caught our eye because it does at least one thing really well, whether it’s offering a range of coverage options or delivering bespoke solutions for businesses in specific industries. Our top overall pick offers the best value in the space, in our estimation.
Best Overall: Nationwide
Nationwide is a full-service insurance company that serves individuals and small-business owners alike. For the latter group, it’s the best option around, thanks to a slew of selling points:
- An easy workflow for owners new to business insurance — simply tell Nationwide what your business does and you’ll see a list of suggested policies
- A wide array of specialty insurance options, including cyber insurance, crime insurance (which includes coverage against burglary and other property crimes), equipment breakdown insurance, and inland marine coverage (which protects equipment in transit)
- Customized insurance solutions for farm and ranch operators, who are often overlooked by mainstream commercial insurers
- Cost-effective professional liability insurance for independent professionals
Nationwide has some other notable features as well:
- Top-tier financial strength ratings from Moody’s and AM Best
- A powerful mobile app that makes it easy to manage your policy on the go
- Industry- and profession-specific solutions for medical professionals, restaurants, independent retailers, and more
Best for Freelancers and Independent Contractors: Hiscox
Hiscox isn’t a household name like Nationwide — or most of the other names on this list, for that matter. But it is the best insurer for microbusinesses — entities with just a handful of employees. And it’s tops for sole proprietors as well as freelancers, side hustlers, and anyone else who qualifies as an independent contractor.
Hiscox’s appeal to freelancers and sole proprietors is due to:
- Policies with lower coverage limits ideal for businesses with lower revenues and fewer assets — standard liability policies top out at $2 million, with higher coverage amounts available with additional underwriting
- Customizable solutions for dozens of industries popular with sole proprietors and microbusinesses, such as fitness coaching and professional consulting
- A wide range of policy types for microbusinesses with complex needs, including cyber liability, professional liability, commercial auto, umbrella coverage, and more
- Hiscox underwrites all business policies issued by Geico
- Small-business coverage available in more than a dozen countries
- Only deals with businesses — no personal insurance lines here
Best Online Insurance Broker: CoverWallet
Technically, CoverWallet is not an insurance company. It’s an online insurance broker that works with many different small-business insurers to help match its users with the right coverage at the right price.
CoverWallet’s commercial insurance partners include several of the companies on this list. Other big names include:
- Liberty Mutual
- Berkshire Hathaway
CoverWallet offers standard business insurance products like general liability insurance, workers compensation, and commercial auto. It also offers less common types of business insurance:
- Fiduciary liability for investment advisors and other sworn fiduciaries accused of violating their obligations
- Directors and officers insurance for high-ranking company officials
- Employment practices liability insurance for issues related to potentially unlawful employment practices, such as wrongful termination
- Access to live human representatives during extended business hours — before and after you search for commercial insurance through CoverWallet
- Customized solutions for a variety of industries, including health care, nonprofits, beauty salons, trucking companies, restaurants, building contractors, and janitorial services
- Easy online and mobile access to file claims, obtain certificates of insurance, and make payments
Best for Commercial Auto Insurance: Progressive
Progressive is among our top picks for personal car insurance coverage thanks to its super-smooth and unusually transparent application process and its healthy lineup of discounts for eligible drivers.
And when it comes to commercial auto insurance, Progressive comfortably pulls ahead of the pack. That’s partly because Progressive’s coverage is extremely thorough, with solutions for all sorts of commercial vehicles:
- Passenger cars used for business purposes
- Delivery vans
- Delivery trucks
- Dump trucks
- Food trucks
- Tow trucks
- A variety of commercial trailer types
For independent professionals and microbusiness owners who use the same vehicles for both personal and commercial purposes, Progressive offers a handy online tool to help determine which type of insurance makes the most sense.
- Many other types of business insurance available, including workers comp, business liability insurance, professional liability insurance, and business owners policies for easy bundling
- An insurance discounts wizard that ensures you pay no more than you should for coverage
- Online accident reporting and claims filing
Best for Workers Compensation: The Hartford
The Hartford is the best small-business insurer for workers compensation coverage. If you’re required to cover workers comp, you’ll appreciate features like:
- A pay-as-you-go option that prevents overpayments if your payroll shrinks or underpayments if your payroll grows
- In-depth educational guides around general workers compensation topics
- State-specific guides to workers compensation coverage
- Detailed breakdown of factors affecting workers compensation insurance costs, including worker class codes
- Straightforward online quote wizard
- Vast network of approved health care providers for covered workers
- Top financial strength rating from AM Best
- Many other types of commercial insurance available, including commercial auto, inland marine insurance, and business property insurance
- Lots of add-ons to customize policies
Best for Commercial Property Coverage: Travelers
If your small business owns its own real estate, it needs a commercial property insurance policy. And there’s no better place for modestly sized enterprises to get that kind of coverage than Travelers.
Travelers’ commercial property insurance lines stand out for:
- Extensive in-house commercial property insurance expertise — Travelers has been the market leader in the space for years
- Cost-effective solutions for smaller businesses that don’t own their own space but are required by their landlords to carry insurance
- Travelers Deluxe, a customizable insurance solution for growing businesses that folds in coverage for lost income beyond the date a damaged property is restored, energy-efficient restorations, and compensation for losses due to canceled leases
- Specialty property policies like mechanical breakdown and boiler coverage
- Top financial strength rating from AM Best
- Customized solutions for around two dozen industries
Best for International Businesses: Chubb
If your small business has an international dimension — whether that means operating offices overseas, conducting international business travel, or simply importing and exporting goods — then Chubb is your best bet for insurance coverage.
Chubb provides coverage for business locations in more than a dozen countries worldwide. Its standout international insurance product is Customarq Liability Global Extension, an add-on to its standard Customarq liability policy. Customarq Liability Global’s key features include:
- Multiple general liability policy options for businesses with complex or unusual insurance needs
- Lots of less common business insurance options, including surplus lines coverage, specialty casualty insurance, and environmental liability insurance
- Bespoke policy construction and service for fast-growing startups
- Good pricing for home-based businesses
Best for Personalized Coverage and Service: State Farm
State Farm has the largest agent network of any U.S. insurer: nearly 20,000 licensees operating out of offices from coast to coast. As independent operators with defined territories, these licensees are small-business owners themselves, meaning they know exactly what their fellow entrepreneurs need.
This all makes State Farm the best choice, hands-down, for small-business owners seeking personalized insurance policies and attentive service from humans that know their markets and are always available for face-to-face meetings.
- Simple general liability policies available starting at $1 million in coverage — perfect for very small businesses
- Special solutions for businesses with licensing and bonding requirements
- Specialty insurance coverage for business in specific industries, such as builder’s risk insurance
Methodology: How We Select the Best Small-Business Insurance Companies
We use a number of different factors to evaluate small-business insurers and choose the very best. These factors all relate in some way to the actual cost of insurance, coverage options, or ease of use.
Types of Coverage Available
Small-business insurance is definitely not a one-size-fits-all solution. Depending on how big your business is, how many employees you have, and what you actually do, you might need any of more than a dozen different types of coverage.
As you can see from this list, the best insurer for, say, workers compensation insurance is not necessarily the best choice for general liability insurance. Rather than mix and match insurers for all the different types of coverage you may or may not need, it’s easier — and often less expensive — to use the same insurer for all your insurance needs.
That’s why we prefer small-business insurance companies that offer as many different types of coverage as possible. Even if they’re not best-in-class for every one, greater selection is better for would-be policyholders.
Types of Businesses Covered
Small-business insurance companies rarely say out loud that they’re not good for one particular type of business or another. But some insurers do tailor their solutions to certain types of businesses or businesses operating in certain industries.
All else being equal, we prefer insurers that take one of two approaches. Either they serve a wide range of business sizes and industries, or they focus on being the best they possibly can for a narrower group of businesses — say, sole proprietors or manufacturers.
It’s the 21st century. Applying for business insurance shouldn’t be a pain in the neck. Unfortunately, some business insurers still make it difficult to get the coverage you need and get back to work.
All else being equal, we prefer providers that use a mostly- or all-digital application process. And we give bonus points to insurers like Progressive, which pride themselves on cost transparency.
If your coverage needs are complicated, the cost to insure your business can spiral pretty quickly. Unfortunately, insurers aren’t always transparent about how they price their coverage or what you can do to get a better deal.
That’s why it’s helpful to know which insurers tend to offer lower premiums on average. We give preference to companies with a reputation for reasonable pricing, even as we acknowledge that every situation is different and company-specific factors can change the cost calculation in a hurry.
Availability of Agents and Advisors
It’s no secret that small-business insurance is complex. Even if you’re comfortable managing other aspects of your business without expert assistance, you might be daunted by the idea of putting together a comprehensive business insurance package on your own.
That’s where business insurance agents and advisors come in. If you need help demystifying business insurance or simply figuring out whether you really need a particular type of coverage, they’re there to help. All else being equal, we prefer insurers that provide hands-on help, whether through licensed agents or in-house advisors.
Customer Satisfaction Ratings
Don’t confuse customer satisfaction ratings from reputable third-party evaluators like J.D. Power with anonymous reviews on the Internet. The former is a sound basis for small-business insurance research. The latter is best taken with a heavy dose of salt.
We ignore anonymous feedback in our analysis and focus on customer satisfaction and service metrics from people who know how the insurance business works. All else being equal, companies with higher rankings are more likely to end up on this list.
Financial Strength Ratings
Financial strength is a measure of an insurer’s ability to pay out claims as promised. It’s a critical consideration for small-business owners hoping to work with their insurance companies for years to come.
The longer the time horizon, the more important it is to be able to count on your insurer to make good on a claim. That’s why we give preference to insurance companies with above-average financial strength ratings from reputable third-party rating agencies like AM Best.
Small-Business Insurance FAQs
You have questions about small-business insurance. We have answers.
What Are the Different Types of Business Insurance?
Confused by the various types of business insurance coverage? You’re not alone. Here’s a nonexhaustive roundup of the most common small-business insurance terms:
- General Liability Insurance: Protects against a variety of liability claims, including property damage, bodily injury, wrongful death, and libel.
- Commercial Property Insurance. Insures physical property belonging to the insured business, including real estate and inventory.
- Professional Liability Insurance. Protects the insured business against professional mistakes that cause financial harm or other injuries. Professional liability insurance is also known as errors and omissions insurance and is very similar to malpractice insurance, which covers professionals in specific fields like law and medicine.
- Product Liability Insurance. Protects the insured business against lawsuits related to defective or harmful products.
- Commercial Auto Insurance. Like personal auto insurance, commercial auto coverage protects owners of business vehicles from medical and property damage claims. If you use a personal vehicle for business, you may need a separate commercial policy or a policy that combines personal and business auto insurance.
- Cyber Liability Insurance. Protects the insured business against financial and legal issues related to data breaches and cyber attacks, including financial losses incurred by customers, loss of business revenue, and liability claims.
- Business Owners Insurance (Business Owners Policy). A comprehensive package that typically combines general liability and commercial property insurance. Many insurers allow you to customize BOPs, as they’re known.
- Business Interruption Insurance. Provides financial protection in the event that you’re temporarily unable to use your place of business or a specific business location if you have more than one. Generally, coverage only kicks in for named perils, which typically exclude flood damage.
- Key Person Insurance. A life insurance policy on the most important members of a business team, usually the owners. Among other uses, key person insurance gives surviving owners the flexibility to buy out a deceased owner’s heirs to maintain close control of the business.
- Workers Compensation Insurance. Provides financial compensation for workers injured on the job. Although laws vary by state, many businesses are required by law to carry workers compensation insurance.
- Umbrella Insurance. Provides an additional layer (umbrella) of insurance when individual liability policies aren’t adequate to cover claims.
Do Sole Proprietors and People With Side Hustles Need Business Insurance?
It depends on the nature of your business and how worried you are about liability or loss. In general, it’s a good idea to carry insurance that protects critical aspects of your business.
For example, if you use your car to transport goods or people, you may need a commercial auto insurance policy and possibly an umbrella insurance policy. If you’re an independent professional at risk of a lawsuit due to defects in your work product — say, making a mistake while preparing someone’s taxes or drafting a legal document — you may need professional liability insurance or malpractice insurance, depending on what you do.
In the grand scheme of things, getting the coverage you need isn’t that expensive. And it could prevent a far more serious hit to your finances down the road.
Do You Need Small-Business Insurance If You Have Personal Umbrella Insurance?
Again, it depends on what you do. If your “business” is owning a handful of rental units, and you outsource property management to someone else, personal umbrella insurance may be adequate.
If your business is more complex or involves more financial or legal risk, umbrella insurance likely isn’t enough to cover all eventualities. To avoid a potentially ruinous lawsuit, you may need general, product, professional, or other types of liability insurance.
What Does Small-Business Insurance Cover?
The quick answer is: almost anything you want. The easiest way to get well-rounded small-business insurance is to purchase a Business Owners Policy, which combines property and liability coverage in the same policy. You can further customize a Business Owners Policy to include cyber liability coverage and other specialty items as well.
If you want even more comprehensive coverage, you’ll need to mix and match other types of business insurance: key person, business interruption, and so on. Depending on the size and type of business you run and the laws in your state, you may be required to carry other types of insurance as well, such as workers compensation coverage. And you may be required to offer health insurance to your employees.
How to Choose the Best Small-Business Insurance Provider
The small-business insurance companies on this list are just as varied as small-business insurance itself. How can you be sure you’re making the right choice for your company?
Start by assessing your key insurance needs. Consider factors like:
- The value and type of your business’s assets — the more equipment and inventory your company owns, the more insurance it’ll need to cover it all
- What your business does — a professional services company with few assets can forgo commercial property insurance but definitely needs professional liability coverage
- Whether you need both property and liability coverage, in which case you’ll want a Business Owners Policy in addition to specialized types of coverage as needed
- How vulnerable your business is to disruption due to natural or manmade events — and whether you need business interruption coverage to protect against those events
- How vulnerable your business is to product liability claims, which may necessitate product liability coverage
- Whether you’re required by law to carry workers compensation insurance
Once you’ve determined which types of coverage you need, consider how much of each type of coverage you need and zero in on an annual insurance budget for your company. While you want to err on the side of too much protection, you don’t want to shortchange other critical business priorities.
One thing is for sure: Whatever your insurance needs, you can’t go wrong with any of the providers on this list.