A guide to public liability insurance

What is public liability insurance?

A momentary slip, a lapse in concentration. It can all go wrong in an instant. Life sometimes derails things for us. But if in a moment of clumsiness, you or any of your employees cause harm to a member of the public, you could be facing a law suit. And if that happens, public liability insurance could save you a lot of time, money and hassle.

It's very simple. If your business causes an injury or property damage to a member of the public – that includes clients, suppliers, contractors or anybody else not employed by you – public liability insurance will cover you for any resulting legal and compensation costs. Leaving you to keep doing what you do best.

Public liability insurance guide

Find out more about public liability insurance, the risks it covers and what to look out for in a policy.

Who is public liability insurance for?

Public liability insurance is important for all businesses, freelancers included. Accidents can happen to any business – big, small, online, offline, even those that are changing the world! And the costs of dealing with the fallout can be equally devastating. In fact, many companies now insist that their suppliers have public liability cover. So you could also be at a competitive disadvantage if you don't.

What are the risks?

Picture a scene. You're out filming your latest vox pops when disaster! Your budding Stephen Spielberg isn't concentrating and accidentally trips up an innocent bystander. She's on the floor, phones are flying and you've got a lawsuit on your hands. It only takes an allegation that you've done something wrong and 'no win no fee' services can make it easy to claim against you. If that happens, the legal fees and any compensation can be crippling. Even if you don't have visitors to your office, you or your employees could cause injury or damage when visiting a client, at an industry event, or while filming vox pops! So consider when you could be at risk.

Things you can do

As with employers liability insurance, staying on top of health and safety is a good place to start. If you have teams that go out of the office to events or filming, make sure they're clued up on keeping things safe for the public. Also make sure you have a good response plan in place to deal with the initial fallout. Then once that's under control, call your insurer. And don't admit fault or liability until you've spoken with them.

What to watch out for

Some of your clients, or even suppliers, might ask you to have public liability insurance, so make sure your minimum cover limit meets their requirements as well as your own. Some bigger clients, particularly government contracts, could request a minimum of £5 million or even £10 million in cover. You should also check you're covered for the right things, particularly if your business is not purely office-based. If your employees work at heights for example, that is important to declare.

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