Compare public liability insurance

Compare public liability insurance that can protect you from third-party claims if your business has contact with the public.

  • View quotes for public liability insurance on the wider market
  • Choose the level of cover you want
  • Get quotes in under five minutes

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How to compare public liability insurance

1

Enter your details

To find the best public liability insurance for your business it's important to provide information about your business so that we can help find plans that match your business needs.

2

Compare your options

You might see a cheap public liability policy on the results page however more importantly the the cost while important should be the secondary concern to ensuring that the terms of the cover offered match your business needs.

3

Apply and save

Once you've decided on the supplier that you want to go with simply apply for the plan - monthly and annual payment options are available in some cases however by paying for the policy up front you can often get cheaper public liability cover.

What is public liability insurance?

Public liability insurance (or PL insurance) is a type of insurance for businesses or shops that have contact with the public.

It gives financial protection to your business if you’re sued by a member of the public or a third party like a client or supplier.

Business liability insurance covers you for claims made against you.

Type of claimExample
InjuryA visitor to your business premises trips over on your premises
IllnessA customer is poisoned while eating at your restaurant
DeathYou install faulty electrics which cause a fatal house fire
Property damageYour tools fall and smash a car windscreen

Do I need public liability insurance?

You don’t legally have to take out liability insurance but your business could be at serious financial risk without it.

Some public liability claims, such as personal injury claims, can cost millions of pounds. If you don’t have the right cover in place, a claim like that could bankrupt your business.

Even in the most careful businesses, accidents happen. Human error is a fact of nature. Having the right insurance in place offers you peace of mind that your business would be protected if the worst happened.

Public liability insurance may be a requirement of service. Some clients ask that you have it in place before they’ll work with you, and they may want to know what level of cover you have. This is especially true for certain types of businesses, like builders. 

It’s important to check your contract every time you start a new project with a new client to ensure your public liability insurance meets their requirements. For example, if you work with the UK government, it usually requires you to have £5 million to £10 million in public liability cover.

If you’re not a business owner, you can get self-employed public liability insurance. You can read more about sole trader public liability insurance here.

What kind of businesses need public liability insurance?

You might benefit from public liability insurance if your business has visitors on its premises. It’s also good if you carry out work on client sites. These businesses typically include:

  • retailers (shop insurance)

  • manufacturers

  • builders

  • hairdressers

  • beauty salons and services

  • event organisers

  • licensed traders

  • caterers (cafe or restaurant insurance)

Short-term public liability insurance for events is also available, as well as single-day cover for one-off events.

Public liability insurance is also worth having if you’re a:

  • contractor

  • photographer

  • carer

  • tutor

  • scaffolder, roofer, or any kind of tradesperson

These are just examples – there are thousands of trades that can benefit from public liability insurance.

Here’s how to decide what commercial insurance your business needs

What does public liability insurance cover?

Public liability insurance covers you in the event of death, injury, illness or property damage caused by your business. If you’re required to pay compensation to someone who’s been negatively impacted by your business, it will be paid by your insurer.

Depending on your policy you may be covered for legal expenses, medical fees, and repair costs:

Legal expense cover 

Pays for legal proceedings and representation if somebody takes you to court

Medical fee cover 

Pays for the cost of hospital treatment if the NHS decides to claim against you. For example, this could cover the cost of an ambulance being called out or a hospital stay that happened as a result of something that was your business’s fault

Repair cover

Pays for the cost of repairing damage caused by your business to somebody’s property. For example, if you were a dry cleaner and you ruined somebody’s wedding dress, it might pay for that. Or, if you were a plumber and you caused a pipe to burst in somebody’s house, it might pay for any damage caused to their home – and even their neighbours’ homes

The level of cover you receive for each of these depends on which insurance policy you choose.

What’s not covered by my public liability insurance?

There are several things that aren’t covered by public liability insurance.

Cover for accidents that happen to you won’t be part of your business liability insurance. You might need separate personal liability insurance to cover yourself, or you could check if this falls under your general business insurance policy. 

Accidents that affect your employees – or damage to their possessions – also falls outside of the scope of public liability insurance. This would instead fall under employers’ liability insurance. Both general company insurance and employers’ liability insurance are legally required, so you should already have cover for this. 

Public liability insurance is optional, though getting all of your insurance from the same provider means all of your policies are in one place.

You might need a separate product liability insurance policy because public liability insurance won’t pay compensation to someone who’s been injured by a faulty product. It’s particularly relevant if you design, manufacture, supply or sell products. Depending on what you do, you might also want business contents insurance or commercial building insurance.

What business insurance do I need?

Each business has its own individual requirements, but ask yourself these questions before choosing business insurance:

  • Does my business deal with the public?

  • Do I have a business premises to think about?

  • Do I hold stock, tools or equipment in my business?

  • Do I have employees?

  • Does my business get involved in the design, manufacture and supply of products?

  • Do I have a limited company or am I a sole trader?

  • What could somebody possibly make a claim against me for?

  • Do my clients demand a specific level of cover?

  • Does the policy I’m looking at give me enough cover for the worst possible scenario?

  • Does the policy I’m looking at come with any exclusions?

Once you’ve got your answers, commercial insurance brokers can help you work out what kinds of insurance you need or would benefit from.

Here’s more information about business insurance.

How to get the right liability insurance coverage

To find the best public liability insurance, compare as many quotes online as possible to find the one with the benefits you’re looking for. The benefits might include:

  • Liability limits: this is how much your insurer pays out if you make a claim. You can choose a maximum limit between £1 million and £5 million. This is usually based on the type of business you run. For example, a construction company might need a higher level of liability cover than a tutor

  • Other cover options: most insurers offer public liability as part of a business insurance policy. You can cover stock and equipment, business interruption, and employers’ liability. Here’s how to choose what business insurance you need

  • Cost: this varies a lot between insurers and policies. Compare quotes from different insurers before you take out cover if you’re looking to find cheap public liability insurance that still offers the cover you need

If you’re unsure what cover your business needs, speak to an insurance broker.

How much does public liability insurance cost?

It varies, but remember that finding a cheap deal isn’t the ultimate goal: it’s about finding the right level of protection. A big claim could put you out of business without enough insurance, and for a small business that might not have the cash on hand to pay out-of-pocket compensation, insurance is even more important.

Of course, company finances also come into it, so once you’ve found an affordable public liability quote that gives you the level of cover you want, there are a couple of things you can do to reduce the cost.

Check to see if your business insurance costs go down if you offer to pay a higher voluntary excess. The voluntary excess is how much you’re required to pay each time you make a claim.

Also check whether your business insurance quote goes down if you pay in full rather than in instalments, as this will remove the interest charges you’ll pay on monthly payments. 

Don’t forget that public liability insurance is an allowable business expense and therefore tax-deductible. Just keep a record of your receipts, invoices and policy documents for HMRC.

Public liability FAQs

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Last updated: 25 May, 2022