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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
  • 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 employers' 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 public liability insurance do I need?

Legally, you aren’t required to have public liability insurance. However, it’s 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.

How much does public liability insurance cost?

AXA customers pay, on from £63*** a year or £5.22* a month for public liability insurance. We know that everyone’s situation is different which is why you can decide how to pay for your policy – either annually or by monthly instalments.

It’s important to note that working out the cost of public liability cover for each policy depends on several factors.

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.

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 instalments. Still got questions about the cost of your policy? Find out more here.

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.

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.

Female construction worker inspecting building plans


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

Hairdresser blow drying a customers hair


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

Male gardener re-potting plants


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

Baker putting freshly made bread in the ovan


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

Male cleaner removing stains on a window


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

Woman walking two dogs on a leash

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 above? No problem – take a look at our handy occupation A-Z to see to see what cover we can offer for your occupation.

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

Yes, all businesses can benefit from having public liability insurance, and this includes the self-employed. This is because whether you’re working for yourself or someone else, you’re likely to be in contact with third parties.

Even if I’m 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 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 our other covers, you can do that too. These include:

Employers liability insurance

Which 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.

Find out more

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.

Find out more

Professional indemnity insurance

Which covers businesses if a client loses money because they followed your advice or due to negligent services you’ve offered.

Find out more

What’s the difference between public liability and the other covers available?

We offer several coves for our business insurance customers, and each one protects you slightly differently. Don't worry if you're struggling to understand the differences between these covers - we've got you cover with some quick comparisons below.

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 liability 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 PL and products liability?

It’s important to note that products liability is part of your public liability insurance and not a standalone cover. Both cover your for 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.

Public liability insurance covers your for single claims

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.

Product liability claims are in aggregate

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 liability 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:

Getting a public liability 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.

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Your business name and address

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How many employees you have
(both full-time and part-time staff or any other workers in your care)

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icon of a calender

How long you've been in business

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Contact information

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Details of any previous claims you've filed

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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.

You can find more examples of public liability claims here.

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.

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*10% of our customers paid from £5.22 for ten months between January and March 2024 after an initial deposit. Interest applicable. For more details see our terms & conditions.

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

***10% of our customers paid this or less between January and March 2024.

1This discount is applied automatically and lasts for the lifetime of your policy.