Do I need public liability as a sole trader?

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For the self-employed and sole traders, the lines around public liability may not seem so clear. Find out more in our FAQ Hub.

The work you do as sole trader could have a direct and unexpected impact on a member of the public or on your client. You might then need public liability insurance to protect your business from claims of injury or damage caused by your work.

Whether you work from home, in an office, or in a public space, if there is an accident related to your work which causes harm, you could be held accountable. For example, if you’re an electrician and somebody trips over your toolbox, or if you’re a consultant and a client’s laptop is damaged during a meeting in your home office, it would be your responsibility to put it right.

As a sole trader, having public liability insurance in place means you will be covered for the cost of settling the claim, including compensation pay-outs and legal fees. Without public liability cover, the cost of dealing with a court case has the potential to be incredibly damaging to the business and to your personal finances — especially as a sole trader without the protection of a large company. 


What insurance do I need as a sole trader?

As a sole trader, your insurance requirements will vary depending on the type of work you do and where you work from. If you offer professional advice or consultancy, it may be worth considering professional indemnity insurance alongside public liability. This will protect you if a client makes a claim against you for making a professional mistake, alleged negligence or offering advice that led to them making a financial loss.

While you may operate the business as a sole-trader, if you employ one member of staff or more, it is a legal requirement for you to have employers’ liability cover. This will cover claims from employees of injury or illness, caused by their work. If you are the sole employee of the business, however, this cover will not be necessary.

In addition to this, if your work requires you to handle client data or websites, then it may also be worth considering cyber and data insurance

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