What Does Public Liability Insurance Cover?

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Public liability insurance covers expenses arising from a third-party being injured or suffering property damage. This is for events that occur at your company premises, or when you are performing work in a client’s home or office, or other kinds of off-site work.

If an incident occurs on your premises, you are responsible and potentially liable if negligence is proved. Common claims are for injuries related to slips and falls and are often referred to as ‘personal injury’ claims. Other common incidents involve falling objects, obstructions, or trip hazards.

Damage caused to property while in a client’s home performing work is also covered. Many clients may require that you have a policy in place before undertaking any work on their premises so they can be assured they are protected in the event of an incident. Some will demand ‘proof of insurance’ before any work can commence, for which you can provide your certificate of insurance.

What is public liability insurance cover?

Business owners are responsible for ensuring an environment that is safe for the public. Whether you operate a small business or a large organisation, claims can be brought to seeking accidents and injuries. A public liability insurance policy is obtained by businesses to cover the expenses associated with claims that are made.

It will cover items like legal expenses incurred from proceedings, plus any amounts awarded for compensation settlement payments.

If your business does not have public liability insurance and a claim is brought, you or your company would be liable for the costs. In that case, legal fees will have to be paid out of pocket, and hefty compensation payments will need to be funded from personal or business finances. Liability costs may include the following expenses:

  • Cost of repairs
  • Cost of replacement
  • Medical fees (including NHS reimbursement)
  • Legal fees
  • Transportation to medical appointments
  • Compensation payments

How do I get public liability insurance?

There are multiple public liability providers online that can help to facilitate a policy purchase, including comparison sites, brokers, and direct insurers. Quotes should be compared to ensure that coverage is adequate and that pricing is realistic.

It can be wise to speak with an insurance professional to help you to assess the appropriate amount of coverage for your business. Policies typically range from £1 million to £10 million, and the amount of exposure and risk your business is exposed to will determine the policy limits. To reduce exposure to injury and damage claims, businesses will need to obtain their own public liability insurance policy in an amount commensurate with their risk.

For example, an office with a low number of public visitors may not need a large amount of coverage, but a supermarket with heavy public traffic will require much larger limits.

Purchasing a new public liability insurance policy is relatively easy and can be done in various ways.

  • Use an online quote comparison service
  • Source, a new insurance provider
  • Contact your current insurer
  • Order a policy online
  • Get a policy over the phone
  • Buy a policy in person

Once the policy is in place, you will receive a certificate of public liability coverage which can be displayed in a prominent location at your place of business. Alternatively, a digital certificate can be accessed online or displayed on your business website as proof of cover.

Who needs public liability insurance in the UK?

It may be surprising, considering the financial implications involved, that it is not a legal requirement for companies to have public liability insurance. However, to limit the financial responsibility associated with claims, most companies will have a policy in place.

Depending on the type of business you operate you may not need coverage. If you have no public exposure, then public liability insurance may not be necessary for your business. However, even if you operate a home-based business, you may need to obtain cover. If clients visit you at your location (or you visit clients), you should be protected. Should there be an accident, you will be liable if the incident occurs in your home during business operations.

Whether you are a sole trader, partnership, private limited company, or public limited company, you may need to have public liability coverage, and it is important to remember that the need for cover is not determined by company type but the level of public interaction. Businesses like shops, cafes, restaurants, beauty salons, and repair services will need to have coverage to protect them from claims made by public members.

What does public liability insurance not cover?

Public liability coverage only extends to third-party claims made by the general public for accidents and incidents. It does not cover you or your employees from work-related accidents, injury, or property damage. Nor does it cover any expenses or payments associated with incidents of this type.

Public liability insurance can be a tricky field to navigate, and it can be good practice to consult with a professional insurance advisor to discuss your exposure and liability. Determining your policy coverage levels and items like excess payments or other special considerations will need to be addressed. The cheapest policy may not be the best one for your business so it is important to ensure that you have appropriate levels of coverage in place.

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