To properly answer this question, you have to first look at what your business does, how it works and who it works with.
Unlike employers’ liability where the answer is a simple “yes you do and you’ll be fined if you don’t have it”, public liability insurance can seem a little less clear cut. It is not a legal requirement for you to have public liability cover in place and there will be no punishment for you if you don’t take it up. However, this is by no means to suggest that you don’t need it.
Just to clarify, public liability covers the following:
1) Third parties getting injured as a result of your business operations.
2) Other people’s property getting damaged as a result of your business operations.
Working as a contractor
If you work on clients’ property, for example as a builder or carpenter, then you will probably find that a lot of your clients will demand that you have a certain level of public liability cover in place before they can consider working with you. Especially with large corporate clients, this is often part of their standard company policy as it gives them peace of mind that if anything goes wrong with your work, they’re not going to have financial complications in fixing it. As a secondary bonus, it also gives them the security to know they are dealing with someone responsible.
Working with the public
If you have a high rate of interaction with the public, for example in a retail or hospitality environment, then public liability is near-crucial. The more people that pass through your business, the more likely it is that one of them will have some kind of accident that they might hold you responsible for.
It doesn’t matter how careful you or your employees are, it only takes one person to be completely and utterly careless and you could have an expensive lawsuit on your hands, even if there’s very little merit to the claim.
Also, like the point above about contractors, having public liability cover in place can be reassuring to your customers. If you display your proof of cover, it can give them the sense that they are dealing with a reputable, responsible and professional business.
Most offices will have some kind of interaction with the public, or at least third parties that they don’t employ. Whereas everyone that works for your company will be covered by your employers’ liability policy, any visitors to your building will not be.
If visitors are infrequent or irregular, then it might be that you won’t require much public liability cover, but unless you can honestly say that you never have anyone visit your office that isn’t employed by you, then you should definitely consider taking it out.
Working from home
If you run a small business from home, then you might be part of that small group of businesses that wouldn’t find much need for public liability insurance. Like above with the offices, if you have frequent visitors, then it should be something for you to consider, but if your work is more remote as is often the case with working from home, then this could be something you can legitimately skip.
There are however other things that you should consider investigating to cover your home-based business. You might have inadvertently turned a part of your home into a workplace in the eyes of your home insurance policy, meaning you might not be as protected as you think.
It might be that public liability insurance is not for you, but you’d be crazy to not give it some careful thought. An increasingly litigious system and the rise of no-win-no-fee law firms has led to public liability claims becoming very popular. Somewhere between £1bn and £5bn is paid out in such claims every year in the UK. Public liability cover can stop you worrying so much about potentially having to contribute to that figure some day.
The best thing about public liability insurance is that it’s relatively straight forward and there are lots of companies out there that can very easily give you a quote.
This piece is provided by YOUR Insurance , an insurance broker specialising in public liability insurance and employers’ liability insurance for small businesses.