Hiscox USA, an insurance subsidiary of Bermuda-based Hiscox, has expanded its general liability insurance for small business by introducing the coverage to professional services businesses with 10 employees or less in California, Massachusetts, Maryland and New Jersey.

The introduction of coverage into these additional markets will allow more small businesses, including start-ups, to protect themselves against common risks including claims that they damaged client offices and equipment or injured or slandered others.

Small businesses are projected to incur $152bn in tort liability costs in 2011 alone, and Hiscox Small Business Insurance provides the protection they need against covered claims and frivolous lawsuits.

The insurer said that the general liability insurance offering is in addition to the lines of coverage currently available direct and online in those states, which include professional liability insurance (E&O) and workers’ compensation insurance, through Employers (in MD and CA).

Designed specifically for the small and home-office market, Hiscox Small Business Insurance that coverage starts at less than $30 a month, and it is customized for a range of knowledge-based professions including IT, management consulting, tax preparation, bookkeeping and marketing, Hiscox USA said.

In addition, a business owners policy (BOP) will also be available in the second quarter of 2011. The policy combines general liability insurance with coverage for business property, for example buildings, office contents and loss of electronic data.

Hiscox USA head of US direct Kevin Kerridge said its general liability insurance offering can be customized to meet the needs of small businesses in different industries.

"The continued expansion of Hiscox’s offering provides small businesses across the country with affordable, direct coverage that protects them from common risk exposures," Kerridge said.