Skyrocketing insurance costs pose a new challenge to small business recovery

Toronto, August 11, 2021 – Insurance has become the top operating cost concern for small businesses, and seven in ten report their premiums have gone up since the beginning of the year, says the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). This is creating a new impediment to small business recovery, at a time when businesses are already in a precarious financial position.

“Small businesses are often required to have insurance, but it has become increasingly difficult and costly for them to get coverage. CFIB has observed an increase in business concerns with commercial insurance costs since mid-2019, but many firms are now reporting that their rates are going up steeply, that they can’t find an insurer at a reasonable price, or even at all,” said Jasmin Guenette, CFIB’s vice-president of national affairs. 

More than half (55 per cent) of businesses indicated that insurance was a major cost constraint on CFIB’s July Business Barometer®, outpacing concern over wages and taxes. Businesses in the transportation (87 per cent) and hospitality (82 per cent) sectors were the most likely to report premium increases in another special survey conducted by CFIB in August. One in five businesses (19 per cent) who have had to find insurance report being unable to find an insurer willing to offer coverage for their needs.

CFIB has been speaking regularly with the Insurance Bureau of Canada and has made several recommendations, including: 

  • Additional efforts to ensure all Canadian businesses have access to affordable commercial coverage  
  • Premium relief through support programs as businesses reopen and start generating revenues
  • Timely information for commercial insurance clients on renewals and on how to best manage risks and costs of insurance after months of lockdowns
  • Updates to the Insurance Code of Consumer Rights and Responsibilities to take into account the current reality of the market.

CFIB is calling on all provincial governments to introduce liability immunity to support small businesses who act in accordance with COVID-19 public health guidance as they reopen. Some provinces have already implemented temporary liability immunity and it should be adopted by all.

“It’s important to find short and long-term solutions to make sure small businesses have access to affordable commercial insurance. CFIB stands ready to work with the industry and government on ways to ensure just that” added Guenette.

For media enquiries or interviews, please contact:
Milena Stanoeva, CFIB

Source for CFIB data
Barometer – Findings from CFIB’s July Business Barometer® are based on 785 responses from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflect responses received from July 6 to 20. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.5 per cent 19 times in 20. More details at

Special survey – Preliminary results for CFIB’s Your Voice – August 2021 survey, online survey started August 5, 2021, n = 2,624. For comparison purposes, a probability sample with the same number of respondents would have a margin of error of +/-1.9%, 19 times out of 20.

About CFIB
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is Canada’s largest association of small and medium-sized businesses with 95,000 members across every industry and region. CFIB is dedicated to increasing business owners’ chances of success by driving policy change at all levels of government, providing expert advice and tools, and negotiating exclusive savings. Learn more at