Business insurance for The self-employed

When you’re self-employed, insurance can help protect you from the risks that come with being your own boss. These might include facing legal action, data breaches or an accident. 

Public liability insurance for the self-employed can help cover the costs of legal claims if someone is injured. And professional indemnity insurance is on hand should you face claims you’ve made a mistake. Tailoring cover with Hiscox helps self-employed people to tackle a range of challenges.


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Why choose Hiscox for your self-employed insurance?


A tailored approach

At Hiscox, we take a tailored approach to your specific business, so you only pay for the cover you need.


Platinum insurer

For consecutive years, we've won the Feefo Platinum Trusted Service award. Real customers have rated us 4.8/5 based on 3501 reviews.


Expert business support

Certain Hiscox policies offer access to UK experts in data, legal, cyber and PR.


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What is self-employed insurance?

Self-employed insurance isn’t a specific product. It’s simply business insurance tailored to a self-employed person’s needs: a series of individual insurance types combined in one package. 

That means your policy might consist of multiple types of cover. 

Public liability insurance could provide cover for self-employed people if a member of the public suffers an injury or property damage due to your work. Professional indemnity insurance, on the other hand, helps to protect you if a client claims you’ve made a mistake or been negligent.

How does self-employed insurance work?

You can build a specific policy to suit your self-employed business needs. For example, you may choose to include public liability insurance, professional indemnity cover, or cyber and data insurance. 

So, if you’re a self-employed plumber, you might want to build an insurance policy that protects you against claims commonly made against your trade. Public liability insurance, for example. And if you employ anyone, even casually, you’d likely need to include employers’ liability insurance too. 

If you provide services, perhaps as a designer or architect, your policy might include different cover types. For example, professional indemnity insurance to mitigate against claims made over a design mistake or poor strategic advice. Another solution could be business contents insurance, to help protect your equipment.

What are the main types of self-employed insurance?

Do I need self-employed insurance?

In the UK, self-employed people are not legally required to buy insurance unless they employ others. In that case, you’ll normally need employers’ liability insurance to stay within the law. 

Certain types of cover might be required by some clients as part of their contracts too. For example, you may need to buy public liability cover before work can officially begin. Some trade organisations also ask their members to invest in professional indemnity insurance during the application process. This applies to the likes of solicitors, accountants and financial advisers

Furthermore, without insurance, there’s a chance slip-ups or out-of-the-blue problems could leave you with a big bill for things like legal fees, compensation pay-outs, repairs or data recovery.

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When should I get self-employed insurance?

Typically, many self-employed businesspeople start thinking about insurance when they begin working for themselves, since risks can surface as soon as you get started. 

For example, an unexpected claim could arise if a courier trips on a loose patio stone while collecting your first jewellery design shipment. Or a cyber-attack could knock you off your stride on website launch day. 

Self-employed people may take out insurance when they notify HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to set up as a sole trader. Those working under other arrangements might instead purchase insurance when they register their limited company or launch a business partnership.

How much self-employed insurance will I need?

The amount of cover a self-employed person might need depends on what you do, the insurance types you select, and the cover limits you set. 

At Hiscox, we know self-employed businesses are diverse, and that risks vary across industries. For example, in the financial and legal sector, getting things wrong can come at a high cost. So, accountants might need to think about a higher level of professional indemnity insurance than those in other lines of work. 

Meanwhile, if you’re a self-employed event organiser, proximity to people could make public liability insurance helpful. 

Thinking about how much a worst-case scenario might cost could help you set cover limits.

Do I need public liability insurance if I am self-employed?

When you’re self-employed, public liability insurance can help manage potential risks. Although there are no legal requirements for public liability insurance, many solo professionals find it reassuring. 

This cover can help shield you against court and compensation costs if your activities lead to injury or property damage. Risks can spring from unexpected places. For example, you might visit clients for meetings as a self-employed IT consultant. If someone trips on a cable, they may take you to court. 

Learn more with our public liability FAQs.

What insurance is available for self-employed people?

Beyond the main covers of public liability, professional indemnity and employers’ liability, there are other insurance types relevant to the self-employed. These include: 

  • Personal accident insurance – a safety net for those who are self-employed and don’t get access to sick pay.
  • Portable equipment insurance – this can assist with repairing or replacing your laptop, smartphone or specialist gear in the event of theft, loss or damage. 
  • Cyber and data insurance – this may lend a helping hand to self-employed people facing data breach complaints or hacking. 
  • Legal protection insurance – if you work with contracts, invoice customers, own business premises or have employed staff, this can help negotiate your rights when disputes crop up.
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These are just some of the types of business insurance for self-employed people that we can offer. We can provide other specific types of cover and build them into a policy that’s tailored to the exact needs of your business.

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Self-employed insurance: FAQs

Do self-employed people need insurance for working from home?

Self-employed people may need insurance if they work from home, since many risks are still present and could even be greater. For example, those working on home networks might face additional cyber risks. 

It can be easy to assume working from home is low-risk, but, if you meet customers or accept deliveries for online shop stock, there’s still public liability risk. Providing services and advice as a self-employed tutor also carries indemnity risk. 

Learn more about home-based business insurance options.

Do I need business insurance if I take on staff as a self-employed professional?

If you get more work as a self-employed businessperson and decide you need to take on some help, you could be legally required to add employers’ liability insurance to your policy. This will likely apply whether your employees are full-time or part-time, and even to casual help at weekends. The government can fine you £2,500 for every day you don’t have EL cover in place.

What happens if you don’t have business insurance?

A self-employed worker without business insurance could face the following challenges: 

  • Financial pressures. Your finances may take a hit if you’re required to cover legal fees yourself. 
  • Reputational damage. You might lose control of the narrative if you’re unable to defend your business effectively in court. 
  • Equipment shortages. The loss or theft of key equipment may cause delays in your workflow. 
  • Legal breaches. A lack of employers’ liability cover could lead to fines.

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