Do I need public liability insurance? What you need to know

Safety and insurance

16 July 2018

We all try to be safety conscious in the workplace, but inevitably, accidents do happen, which could result in pricey compensation claims.

But that’s where public liability insurance comes in. It could help protect you if someone makes an injury claim against you or your business.

To help you decide if public liability is right for you, we’ve placed the spotlight on six indicators that your business could be at risk – and how public liability insurance could benefit you.

Your premises are open to the public

Whether it’s slipping in your store, tripping over a fallen piece of stock or cutting themselves on a sharp edge, when your business is open to the public, you’re open to accidents happening in your workplace too. Public liability insurance protects against the compensation costs linked to members of the public (whether customers, clients or passers-by) accidentally injuring themselves in your business.

You work in other people’s properties

Public liability insurance covers your business against the costs of legal action and compensation claims if a third party is injured or their property is damaged accidentally while at your place of business or when you’re carrying out work at their home or place of work. For example, if if you’re a self-employed cleaner and a client’s carpet is damaged as a result of your cleaning (such as using the wrong fluid) then this isn’t covered by self-employed public liability insurance. However, purely accidental damage, such as knocking over a vase when using cleaning equipment, would be covered. This is especially handy for entrepreneurs like tradesmen, cleaners or gardeners, who often do their work on-site at client properties.

You use special tools or processes

Everyday tools might be safe in trained hands, but an accident can have serious consequences. Whether it’s accidentally dropping a hammer on a client’s floor or a minor burn when straightening a client’s hair, small accidents could result in big damage claims or even legal action. Tradesman public liability insurance or public liability insurance for hairdressers protects you against compensation costs and ensures your legal costs are covered too.

Your products could hurt someone

Although you work hard to make your products as safe as possible, it’s sensible to consider the risk of injury if the fruits of your labour end up in the wrong hands or accidentally harm others. Public liability insurance could protect you should a minor slip up or accident result in a member of the public making a claim against your business. For example, if you’re a café owner whose customer inadvertently gets food poisoning from one of your dishes, café public liability insurance can shield your business against compensation payments and legal costs.

You’re employing staff

If you’re employing staff, you should already have employers’ liability insurance – which is a legal requirement. But it’s worth remembering that you’re not just responsible for the safety of your staff, you’re responsible for their actions too. If someone you’re employing accidentally causes injury or damages the property of a member of the public, it’s your business that could face the compensation claims.

Your business is growing

Although public liability insurance isn’t a legal requirement, larger clients and professional bodies like the UK Government sometimes expect you to have it. This is often the case for tradespeople working on-site for clients, and when you’re contracted by local government bodies like councils - hardly surprising when the average settlement on a damages claim is £13,500.

As we all know, accidents happen. And when they do, public liability insurance can provide you with peace of mind knowing that you and your business are covered should the worst ever happen.

For more information about how AXA can help protect your business against personal injury and property damage claims, visit our public liability insurance page.

Get public liability insurance from AXA Business Insurance

  • Up to £5 million protection
  • Cover for legal defence costs and compensation
  • Choose to pay by monthly instalments (subject to eligibility criteria)