Oregon General Liability Insurance Guide
Liability insurance protects business owners from financial disaster. In Oregon, general liability insurance covers your small business from lawsuits associated with slip, trip and fall accidents, as well as advertising injuries. Learn all there is to know about general liability in or below.
Oregon Business Liability Insurance Key Takeaways
This is a guide to general liability in Oregon. Key concepts discussed here include:
Fast Facts About Oregon Small Business
As of 2022, there are 387,819 small businesses in Oregon. The state has a reputation as a challenging environment for new small businesses thanks to relatively high taxes, and strict regulations.
- A small business is any business with less than 500 employees.
- According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), Oregon’s small businesses employed more than 871,000 individuals in 2017.
- Those 871,000 souls earned a total of $35.6 million while working in the state.
The COVID-19 pandemic struck down an unknown number of Oregon’s businesses, both large and small. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says the industries hit hardest were movie theaters, nail salons, meat processing plants and warehouses.
During that pandemic many OR employees were forced into unemployment. As the nation returned to normal, many of those unemployed workers launched small businesses of their own. While no specific statistics are available for OR alone, 4.4 million new small businesses were launched in 2021 in the US, and that is a record number.
About General Business Liability Insurance in Oregon
Whether you’re launching a small business in Portland, Salem, Eugene, Gresham, Bend, Beaverton, or anywhere else in the Beaver State, having sufficient commercial liability coverage is a vital part of any small business plan.
Commercial liability insurance —also called business liability insurance and commercial general liability insurance — protects your small business from financial loss resulting from claims of injury or damage. It covers the both the owner of the small business and its employees. In OR, a typical commercial liability policy will cover:
- Bodily Injury: physical damage done to a person other than an employee at your place of business, or injuries caused by you or your staff at a client’s home or workplace.
- Personal Injury: Libel, slander, invasion of property or privacy, wrongful eviction, false arrest, and other similar acts that damage a person’s rights or reputation.
- Advertising Injury: Copyright or trademark infringement, or other issues caused be erroneous advertising.
- Property Damage: Damage caused to another person’s property by you or an employee during the course of business.
- Legal Defense and Judgements: The costs to defend against real and frivolous lawsuits and judgements, up to the policy limits. Note, this coverage does not include punitive damages for negligence or willful misconduct.
Important Conditions and Exclusions
Liability coverage in Oregon specifically excludes damages done willfully, maliciously, or with negligence. In other words, your business insurance will not cover damages you inflict to others on purpose, or by negligent behavior.
Negligent behavior is failure to act in a reasonable manner regarding your business or commercial property. That means your business property needs to be maintained and kept in good repair.
Furthermore, your small business liability insurance will not cover injuries to employees that occur while on the job. That falls under the realm of worker’s compensation.
Oregon Minimum Business Insurance Requirements
No state law in Oregon makes commercial liability insurance mandatory for all small business. Thus, there are no minimum liability insurance requirements in OR. However, some industries are overseen by regulatory agencies which might make insurance obligatory. In other words, you may be required to carry business liability insurance if your small business is a private school or charter school.
Furthermore, while Oregon does not make liability insurance compulsory for any medical providers, most hospitals will not allow practitioners to treat patients in a hospital without liability insurance and malpractice coverage.
Oregon is a “fault” state. An insurance adjuster must first review a case to determine who is at fault before accepting liability for an incident. There is a $500,000 cap on non-economic personal injury awards in Oregon; however, the state Supreme Court has found this unconstitutional in most cases. The statute of limitations for any personal injury is 2 years. It is 2 years for product liability after injury or discovery of injury, but no more than 8 years maximum.
Accidents and lawsuits (legitimate and frivolous) do happen in Oregon. If you own property or other valuable assets, you would be wise to invest in sufficient commercial general liability coverage for your Oregon small businesses.
Other Policies for Your Oregon Small Business
- Oregon 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 Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services, Workers’ Compensation Division for details of exemptions and compliance.
- Oregon 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.
How Much Oregon Commercial Liability Insurance Should You Carry?
Each small business is unique, but as a general guideline, the type of Oregon business you operate will determine how much commercial general liability insurance you need. A good rule of thumb for most small businesses is between $500,000 and $1 million of general liability coverage.
Oregon Businesses That Should Seek Higher Limits of Liability Coverage
If yours is a high-risk business — like construction —or has a high volume of interaction with the public —like 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 Oregon Business Insurance Costs Assessed?
Oregon commercial liability insurance premiums are based on several 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. In other words, your general liability policy will only pay up to the policy limits. Since both the number of lawsuits filed against small businesses and the costs of medical care have ballooned in recent years, it is wise to carry as much liability coverage as you can afford.
Best Companies for Oregon Business Insurance
The list of insurers that offer business liability in Oregon is long. Some of the most well-known brands are listed below.
- The Hartford
- THREE by Berkshire Hathaway