• April 18, 2018 - We’ve taken a fresh look at our top business insurance providers to surface those offering the best range of coverages and best avenues for customer service. We’ve also updated the stats to reflect the most current policy options.

Virtually all businesses need business insurance, but the coverage needs of each one are unique. Protect your company and your income from liability for mishaps, both commonplace and catastrophic, by securing a business insurance policy from a reliable, communicative provider.

Our number one pick: Nationwide. A well-rounded and financially secure institution, Nationwide offers a huge menu of business coverage options, with customizable endorsements for everything from retail stores and restaurants to medical clinics and law offices. We were equally as impressed with Nationwide’s customer experience as we were with its policies. The website is richly informative and phone lines are speedy and helpful — one call and we were talking to a specialist.

The customer experience provided by Allstate was also top-notch and we appreciated the inclusion of an online quote tool — something Nationwide doesn’t provide. While Allstate doesn’t offer nearly as many specialty packages, it makes up for this with lots of optional add-ons, allowing you to mix-and-match the elements of coverage right for you.

Farmers, in direct opposition to Allstate, flexes muscle where special packages are considered, but is weak in customer resources. The website is not nearly as informative or easily navigable as Nationwide and Allstate, which put a ding in our ability to suss out its policy features. However, Farmers more assertively funnels consumers into agencies, where you’re sure to get lots of detailed assistance from their dedicated reps.

Finally, if you’re not in the market for specialized coverage and are just looking for a basic policy, Progressive offers the essentials and comes with stellar financial ratings. We weren’t crazy about the fact that they don’t underwrite the bulk of their policies, but they do underwrite auto insurance. As a result, they offer particularly strong coverage for commercial vehicles, making them a top choice if your line of work deploys a fleet.

How We Found the Best Business Insurance

We’ve been looking at business insurance for several years now, and have cycled over 50 companies through the mill in that time. Through examining coverage packages, optional coverages, and holistic customer experience, we pulled 10 stand-out business insurance providers to the top, then compared them based on nationwide availability, basic policies, and online quote tools.

We cut providers who don’t offer insurance nationwide

While regional companies can write you a solid policy for a good price, a wider pool of insureds means lower premiums. A large insurance company is diversified enough to ride economic waves without letting anyone on board feel the swell. They also tend to have great financial stability overall — a key consideration for providers of any insurance product.

For this reason, plus sheer convenience (we don’t want to recommend a great company to the millions in any given state that can’t get it), we omitted Allied Insurance, CNA, Erie Insurance, Farm Family, Foremost Insurance, and The Hanover from the running. We’ll talk about the merits of a couple of these regional companies in our Others to Consider section, as they checked many, if not all, of the same boxes as our top picks. However, based on availability we were left with four contenders: Allstate, Farmers, Nationwide, and Progressive.

Get the essential points of coverage in one place: a BOP

A Business Owner’s Policy (or Package) (BOP) is designed to provide near-total coverage for small businesses. A BOP covers most bases if: 1) your business is located outside of your home, 2) you have company property and assets you want to protect, 3) you employ less than 100 employees, and 4) take in less than 5 million in annual revenue. It’s an easy first foray into business insurance and typically cheaper than a more personalized policy.

“A BOP policy provides a fantastic platform to build from for businesses with less complex risks. They are extremely economical and can provide excellent coverage when endorsed correctly.”

Don’t bump up your deductible.Setting a high deductible may lower your premium, but the relationship between a higher premium / a lower deductible and a lower premium / a higher deductible is not linear. Founder Shield suggests you’ll save only a few hundred dollars in exchange for spending thousands more in the event of a claim.

While we also prioritized the presence of discipline-specific packages — a thoughtful set of bundled coverages for various specialized businesses, be it funeral home or country club — we wanted to know that the provider would make it easy for you to get commercial property damage protection and liability coverage, tied together with plain string, without having to increase the complexity of your contract (and grow your bottom line) with endorsements.

That said, insurance broker and President of Goodman Insurance Services Justin Goodman points out, “BOPs do NOT cover professional liability, auto insurance, worker’s compensation or health and disability insurance. You'll need separate insurance policies to cover professional services, vehicles, and your employees.”

Say you do want additional coverage, and need a provider that has your number when it comes to the unique needs of a cupcake delivery startup? The best can do both. Many insurers offer souped-up, special BOPs in the form of industry packages, which join basic coverage with add-ons targeted to the special risks of your business — retail, manufacturing, auto repair, hospitality, etc. Options to plump up your policy with additional coverage help you get a bespoke business insurance policy that won’t leave your practice with any vulnerabilities.

If you need a sandbox to play around with quotes...Check out Business News Daily and their round-up of seven websites that will allow you to search for lots of quotes at once.

We were impressed with Nationwide and Farmers here, both of which offer a standard BOP for those who want to get insured, plain and simple, as well as a sizable list of specialized packages boasting truly thoughtful inclusions. Nationwide’s golf course insurance tacks Tee to Green, Debris Removal, and liquor liability onto a standard BOP to protect your carpet from your golfers, and your golfers from themselves.

Progressive doesn’t advertise these kinds of custom packages, and Allstate’s are more generic and broad in scope (example: Professional).

To know what kind of customized coverage you need, Judy Selby, consultant and former insurance coverage litigator, recommends evaluating your own risk profile. “The risk profile of any given company is unique and will depend on a variety of issues… Once the company has assessed its risks, it should look for policies that provide coverage to best address them.”

We looked for companies that make it easy to learn, ask, and pay

Policy options are vital, but what about your interaction with the provider post-purchase? We were eager to find insurance companies that furnish education, bill payment, and claim filing tools all online. Customer resources, such as articles, fact guides, infographics, phone numbers, online communication requests, and ample language about the provider’s own products better equip you to make the best choice for your business. A sample policy is ideal, but at the very least we wanted serious copy about the inclusions and exclusions of their coverage and the kind of coverage people in your line of work might need.

Nationwide and Allstate took the gold on this score, with impressively complete Learning Centers. Nationwide’s includes all insurance products under its auspices, but the small business page is particularly fleshed out, with guides for concepts and terms in business insurance, getting your business organized and off the ground, adjusting your insurance as your business develops, and planning to protect your assets in hard times. Allstate boasts an interactive FAQ chatbot, articles, and cheat sheets (“Business Auto Insurance Made Simple”).

Being able to pay your bills and file a claim with speed is all about convenience. We wanted options to pay via email, mail, online credit card, or automatic bank payment (or as many of the above as possible). Allstate shines in this department, with Nationwide and Progressive on its heels, but all three boast the most important convenience — automatic withdrawal.

A financially strong company will be there to foot the bill

A helpful and functional website that lets you do everything from secure an online quote to pay your premium with ease — that’s what we like to see. What insurance pros like to see: the provider’s bottom line. Every insurance expert we talked to hammers home the importance of an insurance company’s financial ratings. (As well as their reputation for swift and stress-free claims payment. Reputation is about all you can go on, however, since data is hard to come by.)

While we didn’t rely on this point for the purpose of finding a great insurance policy amongst these robust companies (all of which stay in the Strong end of the rating pool), stack ranking allowed us to flesh out our perspective on our leading four contenders. It’s important to insure with a company with the financial stability to stand behind yours. Thinking long-term in this way is what any good business should do.

We tallied the ratings of our favorite four using insurance expert Tony Steuer’s ratings comparison chart, and found that Progressive is the strongest, Nationwide follows close behind, and Allstate and Farmers share third place. But this entire sequence takes place in the top bracket.

Something we didn’t look at: quotes

Because the rate of your premium rests on so many personal variables, we didn’t spend time collecting numbers from our top picks. What’s more, insurance pros recommend you let price take a back seat to the bigger issue: getting the coverage your business needs.

“At the end of the day, the buyer needs to focus on value. That value is derived from the coverage provided as well as the cost. A couple hundred or thousand dollars more in premium could potentially save millions and even the existence of their business.”

Looking for a bargain now could cost you dearly down the road. Judy Selby told us, “Although price is always a factor in the decision-making process, purchasing decisions based strictly on price may end up being far most costly if the policy will not respond to a claim.”

Our Best Business Insurance Provider Reviews

The Best Business Insurance Provider — Nationwide

Nationwide Insurance logo for Business Insurance

From retail stores and restaurants to medical clinics and law offices, Nationwide has a comprehensive policy that delivers the protection you need. Flexible offerings and tons of in-house resources make Nationwide a great choice for business owners of all kinds.

When insuring your business with Nationwide, you have three options: a standalone general liability or business property policy, a combination of both for a standard Business Owners Policy (BOP), or a specific package targeted to your business type:

  • Agribusiness
  • Construction
  • Contractors
  • Farm & Ranch
  • Professional Services
  • Real Estate
  • Retail
  • Wholesale

But the personalization doesn’t stop at that level. Within each of those categories exist even more specific policies, built off of a standard BOP plus particular recommendations for your line of work. For example, a golf course and a funeral home can both get protection via Nationwide’s BOP, but the first will want to tack on Tee to Green Coverage for damages to fairways, etc., and the second may be interested in Errors and Omissions insurance, which protects your business from client charges against work performed. Specialized liability coverage options provide you extra protection against certain claims common to your industry — select additional coverage to protect you in the event of an equipment breakdown, a data breach, or a criminal act.

Nationwide does miss a couple of major sectors, including manufacturing and hospitality. Look to Allstate for pre-made packages in these fields, or contact a Nationwide agent who can likely help build a unique package to meet your needs.

Nationwide Insurance makes it easy to build a specialized policy by offering comprehensive business packages for dozens of business types in all 8 industries. Get familiar with the coverage on Nationwide’s exceptionally well-designed website. Its clarity and utility is more than skin deep: Nationwide delivers online policy access, a capability that remains pretty uncommon in the industry. Instead of searching through your file cabinet for policy documents or contacting your local agent, login and track it down in seconds.

While virtually every major national insurance company provides 24-hour call-center support, few operate a dedicated telephone support line just for business insurance customers. Instead of talking to a support agent who may deal with life, auto, property, travel, and business insurance in the course of a single day, Nationwide business policyholders get to speak to experts who specialize in nothing but business policies.

Financial ratings provide insight into a company’s current operations and market standing and indicate the company’s financial outlook going forward. Nationwide Insurance boasts some of the best financial ratings in the business insurance industry, garnering A+ ratings for financial strength from the likes of Standard and Poor’s and A.M. Best, two of the top ratings agencies in the country. These ratings reflect a very strong to superior capacity to meet financial commitments. Moody’s, another top ratings agency, gives Nationwide Insurance an A1 rating, indicating a low credit risk going forward.

Runner-Up — Allstate

Allstate-Logo-for-Business-Insurance

Looking for insurance that covers the major risks to the typical small business? Allstate may not claim as many unique endorsements, but it does write a solid Business Owners Policy (BOP). Most BOPs will deliver the property and general liability coverage you need, but Allstate’s includes coverage for equipment breakdown, building glass, and up to 12 months of business income losses resulting from a covered claim.

A general policy from Allstate is exceptionally strong, but it won’t match the needs of all industries. You won’t find as many specialty coverages available with Allstate that you will with Nationwide. Notably, its lack of product liability insurance means it won’t be useful for business owners in manufacturing and wholesale. Similarly, certain professional services businesses that need special coverage, such as errors and omissions or personal and advertising injury liability, won’t find the coverage they need. Depending on the type of business you operate, these kinds of liability policies can be crucial to the design of a business insurance package that delivers comprehensive protection. But if you’re in retail or the service industry, your needs will be met.

  • Professional
  • Health & Medical
  • Services
  • Goods
  • Food & Beverage

Allstate, more than Nationwide, funnels site users to contact a local agent. Depending on an agent to help customize your coverage package means that you’ll have more personalized guidance but also that you’re more likely to be upsold additional coverage. It’s always wise to compare an agent’s recommendations to the common risks and concerns of your industry.

When shopping for business insurance, it’s important to identify the companies you can confidently rely on over the long run. While not quite as impressive as Progressive and Nationwide, Allstate has earned Strong ratings from all three top financial ratings agencies and ranks among the largest consumer and business insurance operations in the country by market share.

Runner-Up — Farmers Insurance

A huge array of specialized coverages, plus the dedicated expertise of Farmers agents, promises that your business will be accurately insured. You’ll need to rely on that agent, however, since the company goes light on online resources.

While many top business insurance companies recommend you get in contact with an agent, it’s not always evident how much of an expert that agent is going to be, since they often sell for a variety of competing companies out of the same office. Divided interest won’t be an issue when talking with a Farmers agent — their policies are written and sold only be dedicated reps. You can be assured that the person you’re talking with knows Farmers’ policies inside out.

Whatever kind of operational risks your business faces, Farmers likely has a policy option to cover you. Choose basic coverage options, including their house BOP — Business Owner’s Advantage — then choose add-on coverage for special risks. Farmers organizes these add-ons into package policies for businesses in more than a dozen different industries.

  • Apartment
  • Auto service repair
  • Commercial real estate
  • Education and nonprofit
  • Home and building service
  • Homeowners association
  • Hospitality
  • Manufacturing
  • Office
  • Religious organization
  • Restaurant
  • Retail sale
  • Wholesale

We appreciate the level of detail in Farmers’ packages and the personal care shown by its dedicated agents, but we were less impressed with its website. Less informative and user-friendly than any of our other top picks, it doesn’t allow you to access policy documents or make changes. And while it offers a satisfying level of insight into its own products, there are no bigger picture resources about small businesses or business insurance. The lack of this educational component isn’t a dealbreaker, but compared unfavorably with other more robust sites.

While Farmers offers a raft of discount opportunities to auto, home, and landlord insurance shoppers, business insurance buyers aren’t so lucky. Buying multiple policies or renewing your policy doesn’t get you the premium discount that some companies provide.

Runner-Up — Progressive

Progressive-logo-for-business-insurance

Superb commercial auto policies, lots of discount potential, and exceptional financial ratings make Progressive stand out, but you won’t find custom policies and you’ll be working with third-party underwriters.

Progressive’s general liability, property, and workers compensation policies are sold under the Progressive Commercial AdvantageSM program written by third-party insurers, who will handle billing, claims, and customer service. While the company doesn’t handle its own business policies, it does write its own commercial auto policies, and is an excellent choice if your business makes heavy use of vehicles.

Progressive’s comprehensive coverage looks at all the risks you and your employees face on the road, and its agents are experts in state and federal truck insurance filing requirements. (They even take care of filings for you whenever possible). As the nation’s biggest commercial truck insurer, Progressive is an especially strong choice for trucking businesses that utilize long-haul semi trucks and tractor trailers.

Unlike many other commercial insurance companies, Progressive delivers an online commercial auto insurance quote tool, which requires less than 15 minutes to complete in most cases. Progressive also delivers some of the best commercial auto discount opportunities in the industry. If you already have a general liability business policy or a business owner’s policy in place, you’re in line for savings of up to 15% on a commercial auto policy, no matter what company your business policy is under. Additionally, you enjoy further savings of up to 5% if your business has been operating for a minimum of three years. On top of these potential savings, you’re also eligible for up to 10% additional savings on your auto policy when you pay your full premium upfront.

According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, Progressive ranks as the nation’s second-largest commercial auto insurer by market share, accounting for nearly 7 percent of all commercial auto premiums in 2012. When it comes to financial strength and general creditworthiness, Progressive stands out as one of the best-rated insurers in the country.

Others to Consider

Allied Insurance

Allied Insurance’s comprehensive coverage will fit the bill for most small businesses, but lacks specialized packages for industries with unique insurance needs, such as manufacturing, food service, and hospitality. Allied also offers excellent online resources comparable to Nationwide’s — account tools that allow you to pay your bill, monitor claims, and retrieve important documents all on-site. One shortcoming: you can monitor existing claims, but the only option for filing is calling the 24/7 hotline.

CNA

With over 110 years of specialized expertise, CNA is a great choice for small businesses. CNA offers flexible, accommodating policies buildable for any size of business. Its standard business owner’s policy is designed primarily for small and medium-sized businesses, but delivers more than 300 different coverage options to make sure your policy is cut to order, yet scalable. The company’s strong business insurance specialization means that it doesn’t split focus between consumer and commercial sectors. The flipside of CNA’s laser-focus: their availability is not nationwide and policies are sold only through affiliated agents.

Starting Small: Insurance for Homegrown Businesses

According to the Insurance Information Institute’s small business guide, there are over 7 million small business in the U.S., and the outlook for all these small business is good. As President and CEO of the National Federation of Independent Businesses, Juanita Duggan proclaimed earlier this year: “Main Street is on fire again.”

If your business hasn’t yet made it to Main Street, but you are focused on growing your home-based business, know that a standard homeowners insurance policy is probably not giving you the coverage you need. Some homeowners policies cover as much as $2,500 of on-premises business property, but further risks associated with commercial loss and liability likely either extend beyond its inclusions, or have been written out by design. What’s more, a homeowner’s insurance policy is very unlikely to cover liability for injuries to clients, customers, or vendors that occur on your home property.

Whether you’re getting in on the sharing economy or taking a personal side hustle to the next level, check your state insurance commissioner for legal and regulatory requirements. Then pursue either a BOP or an industry-specific policy with one of our top picks, or look into homeowners insurance endorsements (just note that these kinds of endorsements rarely include liability coverage.)

As your business expands and moves into a retail space, keep your insurance company aware of your location. Moving into neighborhoods with less crime and more fire departments can reduce location risks and lower your bill.

More Business Insurance Reviews

We’ve been looking into business insurance for years now, and have taken a closer look at some of the largest providers.