What is Public Liability insurance?

Public liability insurance is a type of business insurance. It protects you if someone makes a claim against you because they were accidentally injured, or their property was damaged.

Public liability insurance will cover the cost of any legal fees, the cost of compensation claims and the cost of repairing or replacing damaged property.

It’s not a legal requirement, but it can protect your business from unforeseen costs. Customers may also ask that you have it in place as part of a business agreement.

Most public liability policies cover you whether the injury or damage happened at your premises or off-site.

What’s covered by public liability insurance?

What’s covered:

  • Up to £5 million cover for compensation payments
  • £250 court attendance costs per day to defend a claim
  • Access to a 24-hour legal helpline**
  • Legal costs of up to £1 million for claims of accidental bodily injury, loss or damage to third party material property, or wrongful arrest in connection with the business
  • Legal costs/expenses of up to £1 million in connection with alleged breach of statutory duty under health and safety, consumer protection or food safety legislation
  • Legal costs in connection with criminal inquiry into manslaughter/corporate manslaughter, culpable homicide or corporate homicide

What’s not covered:

  • Personal Injury
    If you’re injured as part of your business activities or as a result of someone else, you are not covered under your public liability policy. Instead, you should consider health insurance to protect against this risk.
  • Employee Claims
    If your employees are injured or become ill as a result of working for you, public liability won’t cover any compensation or legal fees associated with these claims. Instead, you need an employer’s liability policy.
  • Your own property and equipment
    If your own property is damaged as a result of your business activities, public liability won’t cover the cost of repair or replacement. Instead, you should consider tools and equipment cover.

How much does public liability insurance cost?

The average cost for public liability insurance with AXA is £4.94* a month.

It’s important to note that working out the cost of public liability cover for each policy depends on several factors, such as your occupation, where you’re working, how many staff you have and your annual turnover.

What factors affect the cost of my cover?

  • Your occupation can affect the cost of your insurance, because trades that use lots of equipment in their day-to-day operations or use dangerous machinery are consider higher risk.

  • Where you complete your work can affect your premium because business that are in areas with heavy footfall, or who interact more consistently with members of the pubic, are at higher risk of accidents occurring.

  • How many staff you have will affect your premium as more employees opens to up to more possibilities of claims resulting in negligence or accidental injury.

  • Your turnover affects your policy price as a higher turnover suggests that you work with a large volume of clients, expensive contracts, or a combination of both. This means your risk factor for an insurer is higher. Note: Turnover only affects the price of retail occupations.

Paying for public liability insurance

Everyone handles their finances differently, that’s why we’ve got a variety of different ways to pay for your insurance. You can pay for your policy in a one-off lump sum when you’re ready to buy, or via direct debit in monthly or yearly instalments.

Please note, to pay monthly you may have to meet specific eligibility criteria.

Is public liability insurance tax deductible?

Yes, public liability insurance is tax deductible, as HMRC have included insurance covers as an allowable expense. So, when you’re calculating your taxes be sure to deduct the costs of any business insurances.

When it comes to calculating your taxes, it would be wise to consult an accountant who can help you determine what is and isn’t tax deductible.

Who needs public liability insurance?

Since public liability insurance protects you from third-party claims, almost every business that deals with other people needs public liability. Here are just a few occupations that need public liability, and the kind of scenarios that could come up.

Builders icon


In case someone trips over one of your tools and gets hurt

Hairdressers icon


In case you accidentally cut someone when you’re trimming their hair

Gardeners icon


In case you’re digging up a garden and someone trips over the hole you’ve dug

Cafes icon


In case you make a custom cake for a party and the guests who ate your cake get ill

Cleaners icon


In case a spillage leads to a stain that ruins your customer’s couch

Cleaners icon

Dog Walkers

In case a dog in your care gets injured while you’re looking after it

Can’t see your occupation on the list? Try our handy occupation A-Z to see what cover we can offer you.

Do I need public liability insurance if I'm self-employed?

Yes, there are some self-employed people who need public liability insurance. Whether or not you need public liability insurance when you work for yourself depends on the type of work you’re doing.

Public liability provides cover against accidental injury or damage caused to a third party or their property. So, if you interact with the general public at all during your average workday, you should consider public liability insurance.

Do sole traders need public liability insurance?

Any business that interacts with the public will need public liability insurance – this includes sold traders You’ll still be dealing with customers, clients and members of the public which is where the risk comes in – this means you need to be protected against any accidents, theft or damage caused.

Do sole traders need public liability for working from home?

Yes, even if you’re working from home public liability can still be helpful for protecting your business. If you have people over to your home for business reasons – such as consultations, lessons, tutoring etc – you still need to be covered.

Are the actions of my employees cover by public liability?

Yes, if an employee does something while working for you that causes accidental injury or damage that results in a claim, you’ll still be covered by public liability. This is because public liability insurance protects your business, which includes both you and your employees’ actions.

Please note: this cover is not the same as employers Liability insurance. Public liability cover will protect you against claims caused by the actions of your employees, but it won’t cover you for claims made by your employees.

What’s the difference between public liability and employers' liability?

Who is covered by these products is the main difference between the two. Public liability insurance protects you from claims made by a third party, while employers' liability insurance protects your employees if they get injured or fall ill as a result of working for you.

What's the difference between public liability and employers' liability

The main difference between public liability and employers' liability is WHO is covered by these two types of insurance.

Public liabilty insurance covers claims from third parties, such as customers, clients and the general public. It protects against accidental injury or property damage.

Employer's liability insurance protects anyone your business is responsible for, such as employees (part time and full-time), volunteers and trainees. It protects employees who have been accidentally injured or fallen ill as a result of working for you.

What’s the difference between public and products liability?

Products liability is part of public liability insurance. If you make, sell or supply products – product liability insurance will keep you protected in case of third-party injury or damage.

There are many types of occupations that this cover could apply to. A few examples include retailers – both online and in-person, bakers, cafes, and coffee shop. You may need product liability insurance if:

  • You’ve manufactured a product/component parts which are used within a product
  • You’ve imported or distributed the product
  • You’re a retailer – online or offline

For example, if you sell clothes and something in the material causes the customers to break out in a skin rash. Or if you’re a baker who supplied dozens of cupcakes for a birthday party, only for a bad batch to make all the guests who had one sick.

Product liability is included as a part of your standard public liability insurance with us if your business sells or supplies products. This cover exists to give you cover if something you make, supply, or sell causes accidental injury to someone. It is included as part of your standard cover if you tell us when getting a quote that you make, sell or supply products.

What’s the difference between PL and products liability?

It’s important to note that products liability is not a standalone cover separate from public liability, and that both cover accidental damage and injury.

Public liability insurance covers the work that you do or services that you provide– say, if someone is accidentally injured in your workplace from falling over a loose carpet or a laptop cable.

Product liability covers physical products and things that you make, sell or supply. It protects you if someone who buys or uses your product gets. Need some more information? Head to our product liability page for a more in-depth look at this product.

What’s the difference between professional indemnity and public liability?

Both covers are business insurance products, and both cover you against claims. The main difference between the two is the TYPE of situation you're covered for.

What's the difference between public liability and professional indemnity insurance?

The main difference between public liability and professional indemnity is the TYPE of situation you're covered for.

Public liabilty insurance covers you against accidental injuries caused to other people from your business/products as well as any damage caused to a third party's property.

Professional indemnity insurance covers you for the financial loss your client may have suffered as a result of your bad advice, poor services or inadequate designs that ended up resulting in financial loss for that client.

To give you more of an idea of the difference, take a look at the types of occupations who might need these covers:

How much cover do I need?

Legally, you aren’t required to have public liability insurance. However, it is highly recommended that businesses have the right protection. AXA’s cover starts at £1 million as standard and can be increased up to £5 million cover, depending on what your business needs.

What other covers can I get with public liability insurance?

Every business needs something different when it comes to their insurance. That’s why we pride ourselves on offering tailored cover that puts you in the driver’s seat and lets you choose what covers you want.

Public liability insurance can be bought as a standalone cover, but if you want to combine it with any of out other covers, you can do that too. Public liability can be combined with:

  • Professional indemnity insurance which covers businesses that provide advice, services, or designs in case a client suffers a loss and claims it was due to your business.
  • Employers liability insurance that is a legal requirement for any businesses with employees, volunteers or trainees. It protects a business if someone in their care gets hurt on the job or falls ill as a result of the work they’re doing.
  • Contents insurance which is there to protect any important contents belonging to your business against theft, loss or accidental damage. It also extends to cover fixtures and fittings in your premises and any stock you have.

Getting a quote - need to know

With our straightforward quote process, it’s easier than you think to get a quote online. We’ll ask you for some details about your business and the type of work you do, and within minutes you’ll have a quote built around your insurance needs.

What will we ask you when you get a quote?

With our straightforward quote process, it's easier than you think to get a quote online. We'll ask you for some details about your business and the type of work you do, and within minutes you'll have a quote built around your insurance needs.

Take a look at this handy checklist and get prepared.

  • Your business name and address
  • How many employees you have
    (both full-time and part-time staff or any other workers in your care)
  • How long you've been in business
  • Contact information
  • Details of any previous claims you've filed

What’s a typical example of a public liability claim?

Every industry is different, and so is every claim. So, the type of claim you might have to make very much depends on the industry you’re in. Here are a few of the most common examples of a public liability claim.

How do I make a public liability claim?

We all like to think the worst will never happen to us, but if it does, we’ve got your back. We know that making a claim can be a stressful time for any business owner, so we strive to make our claims process as straightforward as possible.

If you find yourself needing to make a claim, our dedicated business insurance claims page has all the information you need to walk through the process step by step. From that initial claim to a resolution, we’ve got your back.

What’s covered?

Get the level of cover and optional extras you want to suit your business – not someone else’s.

Making a claim

Public liability claims can happen to anyone. And when they do - we're here to help.

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*10% of our customers paid from £4.94 for ten months between July and September 2023 after an initial deposit. Interest applicable. For more details see our terms & conditions.

**This discount is applied automatically and lasts for the lifetime of your policy.

***The guidance is provided on behalf of AXA by Arc Legal Assistance Ltd who are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.