What is public liability insurance?
Public liability is a form of business insurance designed to cover compensation or legal costs if members of the public or customers claim they have experienced personal injury or damage to their property as a result of your work.
Whether an incident happens on your premises or as a result of employees being out-and-about, public liability insurance helps to shield your business against unforeseen costs.
Even when you do everything right, accidents happen. Any business can face compensation claims and related legal fees, whether you’re a freelance individual or own a small business – but, with the right cover, your venture is protected.
Product liability insurance is part of your public liability insurance policy and gives you an extra layer of protection if a product you design, manufacture, or sell is subject to an insurance claim.
Public liability - our guide
Do I need public liability insurance?
Although having public liability insurance isn’t a legal requirement in the UK, it’s an important consideration. If your employees regularly work off-site, or if customers visit your premises, public liability insurance can protect you from associated risks.
For instance, if you rent an office, someone passing by could claim they were injured by a falling sign or winter ice that wasn’t properly removed.
Sometimes, the clients you work with will ask for your business to hold a public liability insurance policy as part of their contracts. As a rule, the more contact your business has with members of the public, the more chance there is for a claim to be made against you.
Some companies need one day public liability insurance for events. In this case, it’s best to enquire about special event insurance, which covers liabilities and other event-specific risks.
What does public liability cover do?
Insurance for public liability covers you against legal fees and compensation payments if a client or member of the public were to make a claim against your business.
The situation might involve damage to property. For instance, you could be in the middle of a cleaning job and use the wrong chemicals, damaging antique furniture. Or during a visit to your client’s office, your exuberant presentation style could result in accidentally knocking over a computer.
Alternatively, the circumstances might centre around an injury. In retail environments, the potential risks include customers slipping on wet flooring or even the collapse of a shelving unit.
Whatever the case may be, we’ll ensure you’re prepared for all eventualities. We can’t take away the headache of a claim, but even if you’re not at fault, we’ll help to cover your costs.
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When should I get public liability insurance?
While public liability cover isn’t a legal requirement, having an insurance policy in place can offer your business protection against the sheer number of things you can’t plan for.
If your small business deals with other people, or you’re a sole trader or freelance individual meeting clients, even if it’s occasionally, you might need to consider cover.
How much public liability cover will I need?
The value of the public liability cover you’ll need depends on the costs that could arise from the work you do and any illness, injuries or damage that might occur.
If you host client meetings, taking out annual cover makes sense. It’s also possible to buy a public liability insurance policy for just one day – ideal for a one-off event such as a trade fair.
Build one of our public liability insurance quotes online and we’ll help you choose the right policy for your needs. With our comprehensive cover, you’ll be free to focus on running your business.
What's included in your public liability cover?
Public liability insurance covers a wide range of unpredictable circumstances, providing the comfort of knowing your business is protected. Ensuring you get the right insurance for your small business is especially important.
So, what does public liability insurance cover? The product is designed to cover your business if you are sued by a client, a member of the public or a supplier as a result of damage to their property.
This includes claims involving products your company was involved in designing, manufacturing or selling. This is covered by product liability, which is part of your public liability cover.
The policy provides cover if:
- Someone is injured or becomes ill and they blame it on you, your employees or your business activities
- There’s damage to property, either belonging to a customer or a member of the public
- A courier leaves your building in a hurry and slips on the stairs
- One of your employees causes damage to property at an off-site meeting
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Public Liability FAQs
How much does public liability insurance cost?
The cost of public liability insurance is determined by many factors, such as the nature and size of your business, along with the level of risk you can incur plus any history of claims you might have. While we can’t provide an average, a quote from Hiscox gives you access to policies starting at just £5.60 per month*.
*Figures based on policies from at least 10% of our customers.
Why do charities need public liability insurance?
Charities face similar challenges to other organisations, so they could safeguard against unexpected circumstances with public liability cover. A customer could slip and fall in a charity shop, or a volunteer might make a mistake despite their good intentions. Read more about public liability for charities here.
What is the difference between employers’ and public liability insurance?
To differentiate between employers’ liability or public liability cover, you need to first identify where a claim is coming from. If a claim against your business is made by an employee, this falls within employers’ liability. Meanwhile, a public liability insurance policy is for claims issued by someone outside of your business.
What are some real-life examples of Hiscox public liability claims?
After tripping and falling at the premises of one of our customers, a volunteer decided to make a formal claim. In this instance, our customer had a public liability policy in place and Hiscox liaised with the volunteer directly to settle the claim. Understand how insurance for your small business could safeguard what you’ve created by reading through more of our real-life business insurance claims cases.
Public liability articles and guides
Public liability articles and guides
What is public liability insurance?
Find out more about public liability insurance, whether you need it for your business and the type of scenarios PL insurance will cover you and your small business for.
Do sole traders need liability cover?
As a sole trader, your insurance requirements will vary depending on the type of work you do and where you work from. Find out if you need public liability to protect your business operations.
What is the difference between public liability and professional indemnity insurance?
Public liability and professional indemnity insurance are both important types of business cover dealing with compensation claims. It’s the nature of the claim that makes these covers differ.
Discover how public liability and professional indemnity insurance can protect your business.