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Public and/or products, and employers’ liability insurance

Whatever your business, you should have public liability insurance (PL). It protects you in the event that someone, other than an employee, is injured or property damaged as a result of something that you have done or caused or allowed to happen. Premiums start at less than £100 for a self-employed individual in a low-risk business but will be many times this for a high-risk occupation such as welding or scaffolding.

Product liability insurance, where you are manufacturing or supplying a product which, if faulty or used incorrectly without proper instruction, could cause injury or damage, is usually included with PL. Recall of a product is not covered – the insurance covers only the agreed injury or damage – but is available as a separate class of business.

Once you employ anybody you must, by law, have employers’ liability insurance (EL). This covers the employer for any injury that befalls the employee in the course of their employment. While there is no legal requirement to take out PL, and therefore no minimum level of indemnity, EL must provide a minimum of £5 million of indemnity, although £10 million is more common.

Small businesses in low-risk industries requiring EL can generally be quoted within an hour or so. Large businesses, and especially those operating in high-risk areas, can take longer depending on their claims experience.

Finally, do not confuse pubic liability with professional indemnity insurance. If you are paid to provide advice, you need professional indemnity cover, too.

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