Understanding Commercial
General Liability Policies

Business owners and operators will typically purchase what is known as Commercial General Liability (CGL) insurance to protect themselves from a variety of hazards and incidents that would otherwise expose them to out-of-pocket awards and judgments.

A CGL is meant to be comprehensive, but that does not mean it contains no exclusions. A CGL is also subject to payment caps. Once the policy reaches its cap – $500,000 or $1 million are common figures – you can collect no more in claims for the period of the policy.

Insurance companies also will often challenge claims in order to limit their exposure and may even deny a claim for any number of reasons.

If your business in or around the San Francisco, California, area is having difficulty collecting a claim from your Commercial General Liability insurance, contact the Law Offices of David H. Schwartz INC. to help press your claim and resolve the dispute. 

Likewise, if you as an individual or outside entity have filed a claim against a business and its CGL coverage and you’re being stalled or denied, Attorney David Schwartz will help you push forward to receive the compensation you feel you deserve.

The Law Offices of David H. Schwartz, INC. serves businesses and those with claims against businesses throughout the Greater San Francisco Bay Area, including Oakland, San Jose, Santa Clara, San Mateo, and Alameda County.

What Is Commercial General Liability Insurance?

California has no law mandating that businesses purchase a Commercial General Liability (CGL) policy, but California also places no caps on liability lawsuit rewards, and state courts are known for awarding large liability judgments. It is more than prudent to purchase CGL insurance.

In technical terms, there are three primary coverage sections that make up a CGL policy: premises liability, products liability, and completed operations.

A CGL policy protects your business from financial loss resulting from claims of injury or damage to others caused by you or your employees. A typical policy will cover:

BODILY INJURY: Employees are covered against injury by your mandated workers’ compensation policy, but if someone is injured while on your property who is not an employee, the CGL policy should cover that.

PERSONAL INJURY: Outside of physical injury, damage to someone’s rights or reputation is also covered by CGL policies, including acts such as libel, slander, copyright infringement, invasion of property or privacy, and more.

ADVERTISING INJURY: If your advertising results in any sort of losses such as for false promises, they should be covered.

LEGAL DEFENSE AND JUDGMENTS: Your CGL policy should also cover your costs for legally defending yourself against real and frivolous lawsuits and judgments.

What Is Excluded from CGL Coverage?

The California Department of Insurance (CDI) lists typical CGI exclusions as including: intentional injury; insured contracts; liquor liability; workers compensation and employers liability; pollution; aircraft; automobile; watercraft; mobile equipment; war; care, custody, and control; damage to your work; impaired property; sistership liability; and failure to perform.”

What Is a Commercial Umbrella?

In addition to a CGL, you can purchase what is known as a commercial umbrella. A commercial umbrella covers the amount of loss above the limits of your basic CGL policy. 

Why Are Claims Denied?

Insurance companies are in the business to make money, so it’s not unusual to see your claim underpaid, challenged, or even denied. If you do submit a claim and it is denied by your CGL insurer, the typical reasons cited include:

  • The claim was not timely
  • The injury was not covered by the insurance policy
  • The insurer suspects fraud
  • Coverage limits have been met or exceeded

If your claim is denied, the first step is to file an appeal. If the denial is upheld by the insurance company, your only recourse is to file a lawsuit. You may be able to charge the insurer with bad faith tactics for prioritizing its interests over yours as the policyholder.

How an Experienced Attorney Can Help

If your business has been underpaid or denied on a claim against your CGL policy, contact the Law Offices of David H. Schwartz, INC. immediately. Likewise, if you are a customer or other outsider who has filed a claim with a business for injury or damages and are not getting a response, contact Attorney David Schwartz immediately. With more than 45 years of experience in business dispute resolution and litigation, he can help negotiate a resolution or, if necessary, take matters to court.

The Law Offices of David H. Schwartz, INC. proudly serves clients throughout the Greater San Francisco Bay Area.


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