What is Public Liability Insurance? What is Public Liability Insurance?

What is public liability insurance?

Public liability insurance covers you if a customer or member of the public makes a claim against your business relating to injury or property damage. With Direct Line for Business Public Liability Insurance you can get different levels of cover to suit the nature of your business.

Public Liability explained

Public liability insurance is there in case you find yourself on the end of a compensation claim.

If someone is injured, or their property is damaged, and you are found legally liable for it, public liability provides the cover your business needs to resolve a claim.

You may need it even if you work from home – if a client or delivery person falls down the stairs due to a loose handrail, for example.

What does it cover?

A Direct Line for Business Public Liability policy insures you for a range of accidents. It could be something very serious, like the home owner getting hurt by tripping over your tools while you're building their conservatory, or something as simple as spilling coffee on a client laptop during a meeting.

We offer cover from £1 million up to £10 million depending on the needs of your business, and subject to eligibility.

It's worth noting that some businesses – if you work in the public sector for example – will often be required to take out a minimum of £5 million worth of cover to be considered for a contract.

You can also choose to add elements like employers' liability insurance and cover for subcontractors, tools and equipment.

Who needs public liability insurance?

Every business could face a compensation claim, so every business could benefit from public liability cover.

Even if you run a small business, or you're a sole trader working from home, going without public liability could have a significant impact on your business' financial health.

For example, if you're a retailer exhibiting at an event and you damage the floor when dragging your clothes rail across the room, or you're a caterer and you accidentally pour hot soup on a member of the public, public liability would cover you.

Without public liability insurance, settling a claim could cost you thousands – and it would come directly from your business. So, it's important to make sure that you're covered.

Why do I need public liability cover for my business?

When accidents happen, you want to put right what's gone wrong as quickly as possible. That's why public liability cover is so important. It helps you keep your business running without the extra worry of a compensation claim or legal fees.

Is it a legal requirement?

It's not a legal requirement to take out public liability insurance. However, considering the financial damage a claim could do to your business, it really should be seen as an essential business expense.

How much does public liability insurance cost?

Every business is different, so there's no standard price for public liability insurance. The amount you pay will depend on many factors, such as the nature of your business, your claims history and the level of cover you need.

What is proof of public liability?

If you're exhibiting at a fair, selling at a marketplace or working on a building site, you'll sometimes be asked to provide proof of public liability cover. This is to assure your client that you are covered for the work you are being asked to do.

You will usually need to provide the schedule of insurance. We'll send it out to you when you purchase your insurance policy to prove that you're covered for public liability.

How do I get public liability cover?

Our business insurance is flexible, so you can build a policy that meets your specific business needs – whether you're a sole trader or a growing business. You can choose to only take out public liability or you can include a range of different covers in one policy, with one renewal date.

You can take out Direct Line for Business insurance quickly and easily online. To get a quote we'll ask a few questions about you and your business, and we'll work out a premium based on your answers.

What businesses does Direct Line for Business cover?

We cover hundreds of different businesses – everything from dog groomers and nail technicians to builders and consultants. You can take a look at just a few of the businesses we cover using the navigation bar at the top of the page or searching for your business from the home page.

Don't worry if you don't see your business type in the list. When you start a quote, you can use our quick search function to check that your business is one of the hundreds we can help.

What's not included?

It's important to remember that public liability only applies to injury and property damage claims made by members of the public, such as your customers.

It won't cover you for personal injury in the workplace, injuries your employees suffer, or damage to your property. To cover those, you'll need the relevant cover – but don't worry, you can add these to your quote using our handy tool as you build the perfect policy for your business.

Does it cover employees?

No, public liability insurance only covers claims made by members of the public. To cover your employees if they're injured or become ill due to the work they do for you, you need employers' liability insurance.

What is the difference between public liability and general liability?

General liability insurance is the American name for public liability insurance. The term general liability is rarely used in the UK, but US insurers use it to apply to all kinds of different policies.

What is product liability insurance?

Product liability insurance covers you if a product you have either manufactured, sold, installed, repaired, altered or supplied causes an injury or illness to a customer or damages their property.

If defective products injure someone, they may have the right to sue for damages. For example, if you're a caterer and you serve spoiled food that causes food poisoning, or you're a retailer and you sell a hairdryer that catches fire, you could be found responsible and have to compensate your customer.

What is property owners' liability?

Property owners' liability is a specific type of public liability cover which covers you against injury or damage that third parties suffer whilst visiting or working at the business property that you own. For example, if a postman trips on a broken step whilst at your property.

For more information on our public, product or property owners' liability cover or the terms and conditions of Direct Line's insurance, please see the online policy document for each type of cover.

Now you know the facts, find out how we can help

You can get a personalised public liability insurance quote in just a few minutes. We'll build it to suit the risks you face, and you'll get unlimited access to a 24-hour legal helpline and cover up to £10 million depending on your trade.

Gary Holmes Tradesmen
Gary Holmes

Gary Holmes
Last Updated: 27 Nov 2019