Public liability Insurance

Public liability insurance covers the legal and compensation costs you are required to pay if a member of the public makes a claim against your business.

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We provide tailored cover for:

  • Tradespeople (sole traders, partners and limited companies)
  • Office workers and professionals
  • Retailers, hospitality and other service providers
  • Get 10% off business insurance if you're already a Direct Line customer.

    Discount applies to your new business insurance policy. Subject to minimum premiums.

  • We won't be beaten on price. We'll beat your new business insurance quote or renewal premium from any other insurer.

    Excludes van. New customers only. Cover on an equivalent basis to ours. Qualifying criteria apply. Terms & Conditions.

  • Cover from £1 million to £10 million depending on the needs of your business.

    Subject to criteria.

  • Download your policy documents instantly to show proof of your cover to clients.
  • 0% APR on your monthly direct debit payments in the first year.

    Over 18s, subject to eligibility.

  • No admin fees if you need to make changes to your policy.
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or call us on 0345 301 5066

What is public liability insurance?

Public liability is a type of business insurance. It covers the compensation costs and legal fees you are required to pay if a member of the public is harmed, or their property is damaged, because of your business activities.

This cover is particularly important if you:

  • Interact with customers, clients and members of the public face-to-face
  • Carry out work on client sites, e.g. a construction site, or your client's home or office
  • Work at events, fairs and markets
  • Have visitors to your premises

You can see the types of claims public liability insurance would cover you for below:

Examples of what public liability insurance would cover you for:

  • Someone trips over your toolbox and hurts themselves
  • You're decorating someone's house and accidentally spill paint on the carpet
  • You're cleaning someone's house and accidentally knock expensive ornaments off the shelf
  • Debris from your scaffolding falls onto a pedestrian
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or call us on 0345 303 1600

Examples of what public liability insurance would cover you for:

  • You're meeting with a potential partner in a café and you spill coffee on their laptop
  • A client trips over your projector lead when you're giving a presentation
  • A client trips on a torn carpet whilst visiting your home office
  • An employee knocks over an expensive sculpture whilst visiting a client's property
  • You're attending a trade fair and one of your promotional stands falls and injures a member of the public
Get a quote
or call us on 0345 605 9241

Examples of what public liability insurance would cover you for:

  • A customer slips on a wet floor at your shop and injures themselves
  • A member of the public trips over items at your stall and hurts themselves
  • Your employees damage the floor at a fair by dragging a heavy clothes railing across the room
  • You're decorating a venue and one of your employees damages the existing fixtures and fittings
  • You're catering an event and you accidentally spill a vat of soup over the carpet
  • Your employee drops a scalding cup of tea over a customer
Get a quote
or call us on 0345 605 9241
  • What does public liability insurance cover?

    Public liability insurance can help to pay for a number of legal costs. Areas where a policy will help you include:

    • Compensation claims – if a person is injured because of your business, or their property is damaged, they may decide to sue. If their claim is upheld, you could be asked to compensate them financially for their suffering. If the accident was caused by your business activities, you'll be accountable regardless of whether it took place on your premises, theirs or at a third-party location.
    • Legal expenses - this helps cover the cost of any fees you might have to pay during a legal hearing. This includes the cost of getting a lawyer.
    • Cost of repairs - if something has been damaged as a result of your business (for example, if you're a decorator who spills paint somewhere on a customer's property), public liability insurance covers the fee for repairing the damage.
    • Medical fees – in the event of injury, reasonable medical expenses for rehabilitation and recovery would be considered.
  • Do I need public liability insurance?

    It's not a legal requirement to take out public liability insurance but many business owners see it as an essential business expense, and it's required by many trade associations.

    In many cases, you may find that you're asked to show proof of public liability before you're permitted to trade. Tradespeople will often need to show proof of cover before they're allowed to set foot on a client's premises and start work. Similarly, if you're a retailer selling products at a craft fair, you may be asked to show your policy documents before you're allowed to set up a stall.

    Even a quick meeting in a coffee shop holds liability risks. If you're a freelance journalist, for example, and you knock hot chocolate over your interviewee's laptop, you could be liable for the cost of replacing it and their loss of income while they're waiting for it to be repaired.

    There are also risks if you work from home. For example, if a delivery person falls down your staircase because the damaged handrail comes off in their hands, and they suffer an injury, they could make a claim against you.

  • How much is public liability insurance?

    There are several factors that impact the cost of public liability insurance. These include but are not limited to:

    • The industry you work in
    • The number of employees you have
    • Your health and safety record
    • The size of your business
    • Where you work
    • Any previous claims

    Our insurance specialists develop and price our policies based on a detailed understanding of each sector and the risks that come with your specific line of work.

    If you want to get a public liability insurance quote, call us or click ‘Get a quote' to access our online quote tool. We'll ask you a few questions about your business and then give you a full breakdown of what we can offer you.

  • What is proof of public liability insurance?

    You may sometimes be asked to provide proof of your public liability insurance. This is to assure the people you are working with and for - e.g. a client, event organiser or venue owner - that you have a suitable level of cover for the work you are being asked to do. We provide instant proof of cover; as soon as you take out insurance with us, you'll be able to download your policy.

    You may also need to provide a schedule of insurance. This is also available online, and sent out to you via email, as soon as you have purchased your insurance policy.

  • Can I get product liability with my public liability insurance?

    We include product liability within our public liability cover, so if you make or sell items, you'll be covered if one of your products causes injury or damage to a member of the public or their property.

    A customer could suffer a product-related injury, or damage, weeks or even months after purchasing the product. E.g. if an electric lamp overheats a month after the customer has purchased it, causing a fire and damage to the customer's house. For this reason, we offer product liability cover on an annual basis.

    You can read more about product liability insurance here.

  • Can I insure my tools?

    Public liability insurance won't cover your tools, but you can insure your tools and your other equipment, e.g. laptops and smartphones used for work, with our tools cover. If your items are stolen or damaged because of an insured event, e.g. a fire, flood, storm or accident, we can cover the cost of replacing them, so you can concentrate on keeping your business running.

    From public liability to tools cover, you can include a range of different cover types within a single policy. Read more about our tools cover here.

Frequently asked questions

  • Q What other types of business insurance are available?

    Public liability insurance isn't the only type of cover your business can benefit from. Other types of business insurance include:

    • Product liability - this covers you if a product you sell causes injury to a member of the public or damages their property.
    • Professional indemnity insurance – this covers you if a client believes you have made a mistake or given advice that has caused them financial or reputational damage.
    • Buildings insurance – this covers the costs required to repair your place of work if it is damaged due to an insured event, such as a flood or fire.
    • Contents and stock insurance – this covers the costs required to repair, or replace, the essential items needed to run your business if they are stolen or damaged due to an insured event, e.g. a fire.
    • Business interruption – this covers your loss of turnover, and the costs of temporary relocation, if your business cannot trade due to damage to your equipment or premises.
  • Q What isn't covered by public liability insurance?

    Public liability insurance covers accidents that happen to members of the public, that are caused by your business activities. It does not cover:

    • Accidents or injuries which happen directly to you.
    • Damage to your own property.
    • Accidents which affect your employees or their possessions - this is covered by employers' liability insurance.
  • Q Does it cover employees?

    No. You need employers liability insurance to cover your employees, temporary staff, interns and students. If they become ill or suffer an injury because of the work they do for you, and decide to make a claim against you, employers' liability insurance will cover your legal fees and compensation costs.

  • Q Do I need it if I'm self-employed?

    This depends on a number of factors. It largely relates to the type of business you run, as opposed to the amount of people who work for you. If you run a company where you're regularly coming into contact with members of the public, customers or clients, then you should consider public liability insurance.

Last Updated: 22 Jan 2020