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What insurance do I need as a plumber?

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All plumbers can benefit from insurance. But which cover do you need, how much does it cost and is it tax deductible? Find out with this no-nonsense guide…

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What insurance do I need as a plumber
Tradesman insurance lets you combine different types of business insurance in a single policy.

Accidents happen - you drop a wrench and crack a floor tile, reverse your van into a wall, or discover a defective push fitting has come apart. No matter how careful you are, things can and do go wrong, and repairing the damage can be costly. This is where business insurance comes in. 

What is business insurance?

Business insurance refers to a range of policies designed to protect businesses from various financial risks. It can help protect against losses due to property damage, liability claims, employee injuries and more – in short, any unexpected event that could harm a company’s finances. 

Do plumbers need insurance?

All plumbers can benefit from the financial protection business insurance provides. Not only could it help cover legal expenses and compensation claims that might otherwise sink your business, but it can also help you win contracts you might miss out on otherwise. For instance, many clients refuse to work with plumbers who don’t have public liability insurance. 

Despite these obvious advantages, many in the industry still lack this crucial safety net, with 44% of small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) reporting they don’t have business insurance. This is a worrying statistic, particularly as many of those businesses, including some plumbers, are required to have insurance by law.

What insurance do plumbers legally need?

Depending on the way your plumbing business operates, you may have to have two particular types of insurance:

Employers’ liability insurance

Although this cover is a legal requirement, it only applies to businesses that employ people who aren’t close family members. Employees include full-, part-time and voluntary workers. 

Employers’ liability insurance safeguards business owners if their employees suffer illness or injury at work. It covers legal fees, compensation and other related costs. The minimum level of coverage for employers’ liability is £5 million, and it must be in place when the employee starts working for you.

The value of employers’ liability

Legal questions aside, compensation for workplace injuries can easily cripple a business, and the costs are rising. According to the latest Health and Safety Executive report, the total cost of workplace injury and ill-health stood at £20.7 billion in 2021/22, up by £1.9 billion from the previous year. There were 135 workplace accidents.

The plumbing industry is not immune to these issues. According to a 2021 Nimblefins report, the construction industry, including electrical and plumbing installations, had the second-highest rate of workplace injuries in the UK. Add in mental health issues, and it seems likely that employers’ liability claims will increase further, especially when you consider that a recent Water Regs UK survey found that 44.4% of the plumbers it queried claim to be experiencing work-related stress.

Van insurance

Van insurance is a legal requirement if you use a van for business purposes – even if you only use it to drive between jobs.

Van insurance typically covers losses due to accidents, theft, fire and vandalism. It also provides third-party cover, which means it financially protects you if your vehicle injures another person or damages their property. 

Find out more about how van insurance works

What other policies should a plumber consider?

Public liability insurance is the other main insurance you need to consider. It protects your business from claims for loss, damage, or injury made by individuals not employed by you, such as customers or members of the public. This is crucial insurance for plumbers as it helps cover the cost of accidents and errors. This could include anything from a customer slipping on wet flooring to a fire caused by setting wall insulation alight while soldering pipework. 

Some clients will only hire you if you have adequate public liability insurance. 

Additional insurance options for plumbers

  • Professional indemnity insurance is useful if you offer design services or other professional advice. It protects you if a problem arises as a result of your recommendations

  • Buildings and contents insurance for businesses covers your workspace, equipment, and tools, whether you operate from home or a separate location. This is important as some home insurance policies may not cover workspaces or equipment used for business, including computers and tools

  • Personal accident insurance is popular with plumbers who work in potentially hazardous environments, including interacting with sewage. This insurance can help cover medical expenses and income loss in the event of a serious injury

  • Income protection insurance is another way to protect your income if you can’t work because of illness or injury.

  • Contract work insurance covers ongoing projects from damage or theft. In certain instances, it may cover the cost of labour required to restore the work to its pre-damaged condition    

  • Goods in transit insurance protects you from claims arising from the loss, damage or theft of customer-owned property during transportation

  • Business interruption insurance can be crucial if you're unable to work due to unforeseen events that are beyond your control. For instance, if you can't work because the site where you’re working floods due to local storms

  • Tools and equipment insurance can pay for repairs or replacements if your equipment is lost, stolen or damaged. It can be purchased as a standalone cover or as part of a more comprehensive policy

Another option is to go for tradesman insurance, which lets you combine different types of business insurance in a single policy. This means you can pick and choose the insurance you want according to your business needs. For instance, if you only want tools and income protection insurance, that’s all you need to select. The only insurance included by default is employers’ liability insurance. Some insurance providers even offer plumber’s insurance if you want an off-the-shelf selection of cover. 

How much does insurance for plumbers cost?

The cost of insurance for plumbers depends on several factors, including the type of cover you want, the size of your business, and the kind of work you do. 

Below are the average annual costs of some of the most popular plumber insurance types. However, it’s important to remember that these are just averages, and the cost of your coverage could be very different. 

The only way to get a true idea of the best insurance price for your plumbing business is to shop around. You can start by getting a quote here

Average annual costs of different types of cover

Type of coverCost
Employers’ liability for a manual worker*£548
Public liability insurance**£328
Tools insurance***£272
Commercial van insurance****£1,213

Sources: Nimblefins, Hamuch (figures for 2023)

*  For a plumbing business with one permanent trade employee

** For a sole trader plumber with £1 million in cover

*** Add 30-50% if tools are stored overnight in a van

**** Based on a five-year-old Ford Transit Custom doing 15,000 miles per year, with a value of £14,000

Are business insurance premiums tax deductible?

Yes, business insurance premiums are tax deductible. HMRC classes business insurance as an “allowable expense”. This means you can deduct the cost of business insurance premiums when calculating taxable income or profit. You can learn more about allowable expenses for sole traders and allowances and reliefs for limited companies on the GOV.UK site. 

How do I make a claim on business insurance?

Making a claim on your business insurance is usually straightforward. However, before filling out the paperwork, it’s a good idea to check your policy’s exclusions to see whether your claim is covered.

Get more information about how to make a business insurance claim

Business insurance is a way to protect your company against financial risk if things go wrong.

About Karen Levell

Karen is a self-employed writer, translator, project manager and editor. Something of an all-rounder, she has worked for numerous consumer magazines and websites including specialist media brands covering computing, technology, gaming, TV, film, sports and crafts. In addition to her other roles, she also works behind the scenes as a project co-ordinator for Money and teaches jewellery-making as a side hustle. Karen lives in Oxfordshire with her husband, a boomerang step-daughter and a crazy dog called Stanley.

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