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South Dakota Commercial Liability Insurance Guide

    If you own a small business in the South Dakota , this information will help you understand South Dakota Commercial Liability insurance and protect your business and your personal assets from legal claims and settlements that can spell financial ruin. Whether you work in Aberdeen, Pierre, Rapid City, Sioux Falls, Watertown or anywhere else in the Mount Rushmore State, having sufficient CGL insurance is an important part of any small business plan in South Dakota.
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Fast Facts About South Dakota Small Business

A small business is defined as any company with fewer than 500 employees. Small business is vital to South Dakota’s economic well-being, accounting for nearly 97% of all state employers. Of South Dakota’s 78,151 small businesses in 2008 (the latest data available), 21,057 were small employers, accounting for nearly 62% of the state’s private-sector jobs. Another 57,094 were sole proprietorships with no employees.

Source: SBA South Dakota Small Business Profile 2011.


About Commercial Liability Insurance for SD Businesses

Commercial liability insurance (also called business liability insurance and commercial general liability insurance) protects your South Dakota business from financial loss resulting from claims of injury or damage cause to others by you or your employees. A policy typically covers:

  • Bodily Injury – physical damage to a person other than an employee at your place of business and injuries caused by you or an employee at a client’s home or work place.
  • Personal Injury – libel, slander, copyright infringement, invasion of property or privacy, wrongful eviction, false arrest and similar acts that cause damage to a person’s reputation or rights.
  • Property Damage – damage done to another person’s property by you or an employee in the course of conducting your business.
  • Advertising Injury – losses caused by your advertising
  • Legal Defense and Judgments – costs to defend against real and frivolous suits and judgments up to the limit of your coverage. Note this generally does not include punitive damages for negligence or willful misconduct.


South Dakota Minimum Business Insurance Requirements

Commercial Liability Insurance is not mandatory for businesses operating in South Dakota. South Dakota is a pure comparative negligence fault state. A plaintiff can recover damages even if he or she is as much as 99% at fault, however damages are reduced according to the percent of fault. There are no award caps in South Dakota. The statute of limitations for any personal injury for negligent conduct is 3 years. It is 3 years from the date of injury for product liability, up to a maximum of 6 years. Accidents and lawsuits (legitimate and frivolous) do happen in South Dakota. If you own property or other valuable assets you would be wise to invest in sufficient commercial general liability coverage for your South Dakota small businesses.


How Much South Dakota Commercial Liability Insurance Should You Carry?

Each situation is unique, but as a general guideline, the type of South Dakota business you operate or products you manufacture should determine how much South Dakota commercial general liability insurance you need. A good rule of thumb for most small businesses is between $500,000 and $1 million. However, if yours is a high-risk business such as the building trades or has a high volume of interaction with the public such as a restaurant or retail business, you should consider increasing your coverage. Note that if you operate out of your home, your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance has limited coverage for business liability and loss.


How Are Premium Costs Assessed

South Dakota commercial liability insurance premiums are based on a number of factors including the types of service or products you provide, the number of people you employ, how long you’ve been in business, and your claims history. Coverage is typically capped at a specific dollar amount for your policy period.


Other Insurance to Consider for Your Iowa Small Business

  • South Dakota requires that anyone who employs 1 or more persons, whether full or part time, carry workers compensation insurance. Sole proprietors with no employees are not required to carry workers compensation. Other exemptions may apply. Contact the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation for details of exemptions and compliance.
  • South Dakota requires that all drivers carry minimum automobile insurance. If you use your car or truck for business, it is recommended that you purchase a commercial vehicle policy.


  • Employee Disability Insurance
  • BOP - Business Owner's Policy
  • E&O - Errors & Omissions
  • EPLI - Employment Practices Liability Insurance
  • Professional Liability
  • Product Liability
  • Commercial Property Insurance

Regulating Agency and References

South Dakota Division of Insurance
This agency is responsible for regulating all insurance policies sold in the state, including commercial liability coverage. Visit their website at Call 605-773-3563. Write 445 E. Capitol Avenue, Pierre, SD 57501.

South Dakota Small Business Administration
The SBA is an independent agency of the federal government created to aid, counsel, assist and protect the interests of small business concerns and maintains District Offices in Sioux Falls and Rapid City. Get the link to the South Dakota SBA at

National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC)
This is an organization of insurance regulators from the 50 states, District of Columbia and the five U.S. territories. NAIC provides a forum for the development of uniform policies when appropriate. It also offers an online form for filing complaints, reporting suspected insurance fraud and downloading key financial information about insurance carriers at

Insurance Information Institute (III)
This organization’s mission is to improve public understanding of insurance – what it is and how it works. Visit III at

Get competitive quotes for commercial liability insurance and all your business insurance needs at


Related General Liability and Other Business Insurance Articles

  • Premises Liability Insurance Basics for Small Business
  • What’s the Difference Between Workers Compensation and Employee Disability Insurance?
  • Does Your Professional Liability Insurance Cover Social Media Risks?
  • How to Shop for Commercial Fleet Insurance


    Last Updated: 01/25/2013