There are lots of business insurance policies available, and most can be customised to meet the needs of your business.

Before you can start shopping around for quotes you need to decide what protection you need your business insurance to offer. This will depend on:

  • The type of company you run

  • The number of employees you have

  • The type of work you do

Here is a breakdown of the main types of business insurance available and what cover each option provides so you can find a policy that suits:

Employee liability insurance

If you employ staff in England, Scotland or Wales then employee liability insurance is a legal requirement for your business.

Employee liability insurance will pay out to cover your legal fees and potential compensation payments should a member of staff be injured or killed at work.

The legal minimum amount of cover you need is 5 million and if you fail to have suitable employee liability insurance you can be fined up to 2,500 a day by The Health and Safety Executive.

Public liability insurance

Public liability insurance will cover the cost if your business is legally liable to pay damages or compensation to a member of the public.

This type of insurance will usually pay out to cover costs associated with:

  • Injury or death of a member of the public

  • Damage to public property

If you have members of the public present at your place of business, such as a shop, surgery or show room, then you will need to include public liability cover.

This type of cover also extends to your employees working off site, extending the scope of your employee liability insurance.

Product liability insurance

Product liability insurance will cover you in the event of injury or death caused by a product made by your company.

If you decide that your business may need this type of cover you should check if your policy will cover claims outside the UK or EU, especially if you export your products overseas.

Product liability insurance will not pay out to cover refunds and claims by customers for poor quality or faulty products.

When deciding if you need this type of cover you should consider if you make any physical goods that are used by the public and if there is any conceivable way they could cause harm.

Professional indemnity insurance

Professional indemnity insurance covers your business in case you, or one of your employees, makes a mistake and your business is sued for damages as a result.

Certain professions must legally have this type of insurance before they can practice, usually as a result of financial authorisation requirements, including:

  • Financial advisers

  • Insurance brokers

  • Accountants

  • Architects

  • Surveyors

  • Solicitors

This can cover a wide range of areas including accidental copyright infringement, loss of client documentation or staff negligence in a duty of care.

Business interruption insurance

If you are forced to cease trading due to unforeseen circumstances, business interruption insurance will cover any loses you incur for a fixed period of time.

Most policies will pay out if your business is unable to operate for a variety of reasons including:

  • IT failure

  • A death or injury in the business

  • Local government action like roadworks

  • Theft and vandalism

However, business interruption insurance will not cover illness, a lack of work or failure to meet projected profits.

Policies will also place a limit on the maximum claim and number of weeks or months they will pay out, so make sure you check this meets your needs.

Commercial property insurance

Commercial property insurance covers physical property belonging to your business.

A standard business contents insurance policy will cover belongings held on site at your main place of work.

It is unlikely to extend to business vehicles, where goods in transit or commercial van or car insurance would be needed.

If you own your premises then you will need business buildings insurance to protect the bricks and mortar.

Although each policy will vary, they will typically cover your property in the event of natural disasters such as flood and fire, as well as theft and acts of vandalism.

Note: Standard contents insurance that you buy for your home will not cover your business unless explicitly stated - even if you work from home.

Goods in transit insurance

Transporting high value or a large number of goods can be risky for your business

Goods in transit insurance is specifically designed to cover the loss, damage or theft of business property while it's being moved from one place to another.

This type of insurance will often include goods being transported by a third party courier, meaning they are insured through delivery.

Legal expenses insurance

Legal expenses insurance provides cover should an employee or former employee sue your business regarding an aspect of employment law, such as constructive dismissal.

It can also extend to cover legal fees in the event of being taken to court by public bodies like a health and safety executive or HMRC regarding tax disputes.

If you are concerned about the possible legal costs in the event of a claim by one of your employees or a public body then legal expenses insurance may be worth considering.

Business insurance packages

All of the above insurance policies are available individually or as part of combination policies which are designed to meet the insurance needs of common business types.

Depending on your insurance needs, you can either opt to take out a package policy or customise your own insurance cover by looking at separate policies:

  • Home business insurance: This type of package is tailored to those who work out of their own home. It includes business contents insurance to cover your business property but may not extend to buildings cover. It includes goods in transit cover, if you post out goods to clients and customers.

  • Self employed business insurance: If your business is your main source of income, you can build a package to meet the needs of your business. For example if you make products to sell you need to consider goods in transit cover and product liability insurance, while if you run a service business you may need public liability cover.

  • Shop insurance: This will usually include public liability insurance as standard, to cover you against injury to members of the public while in your shop. It can also include product liability insurance and goods in transit cover.

  • Tradesman insurance: This type of policy will usually cover insurance policies for mobile workers including legal expenses cover and product liability insurance. Tradesman cover does not generally include commercial property insurance cover because most tradesmen will not operate from a fixed site.

  • Office insurance: If you are renting an office, rather than owning your own site, you can get contents insurance without a buildings policy to just cover property and equipment on site.

Choosing the best cover

When deciding what type of cover your business needs, look at the day to day activities of you and your employees, your legal insurance requirements and potential risks.

You can use our business insurance comparisons to easily compare the different policies on offer by the major insurance companies.

Get several quotes so you can see at a glance what you're likely to pay. However, finding affordable business insurance online is about more than just the price.

Each policy has conditions that will affect their value. For instance they may have a maximum pay out meaning any damages beyond a certain value will not be covered.

So, when you compare online business insurance, it's always important to look beyond the headline price and check the small print.