Public liability insurance – essential if you deal with the general public

Public liability insurance is an essential consideration if you run a business where members of the public, customers or clients visit your business premises on a regular basis. It’s an absolute must if, for example, you run an ice skating rink or a horse riding school where there are obvious dangers involved and your customers are at some degree of risk on a daily basis, but even if your business doesn’t involve blades, ice, or temperamental horses, you just never know when or how an accident might happen! A slippery floor and a carelessly placed bucket and mop have caused major headaches for more than one shopkeeper, and though it might seem unfair to have to fork out if someone trips over a bucket, if the accident takes place on your premises, you may have to accept responsibility. Public liability claims can also be made against you when you’re not actually on your business premises, for example if you’re a sales rep and are visiting a client, or if you work in construction and something happens while you’re on site using dangerous tools. It’s also important to check that you have some form of product liability if your business involves delivering products to members of the public. The general rule is, it’s better to be covered for all eventualities.

As with employer’s liability insurance, when you take out public liability cover, your provider will issue you with a certificate to prove that you’re covered. If you run a business where you deal with the general public, then you should have this certificate on display or at least have it readily to hand if someone requests it. It’s also worth bearing in mind that some people will want to see your certificate before they agree to work with you. Nobody wants to be held responsible if something goes wrong so it’s only natural that people will want to be reassured that you’ve got the right level of cover. If you do employ contractors it’s a good idea to seek advice from your provider to make sure that they’re covered under your policy, as it’s not a given that they will be. If not you should insist that they have their own insurance to cover them in the event of an accident.

Public liability insurance will cover damages awarded to the claimant if the case goes to court and you lose. These damages can include medical bills, loss of earnings as a result of the injury, loss of future earnings if the injury will prevent the claimant from carrying out their usual work, and also their legal fees.

Most types of business insurance will include public liability insurance as standard and you can expect to be covered for up to £2 million with the majority of policies. As with employer’s liability cover, your insurance company will need to know what kind of business you run, how many employees you have, what health and safety procedures you have in place and whether or not a member of the public has made a claim against your business in the past. If you have had a claim made against you then your premium will obviously be higher, so in this instance you should definitely shop around and compare quotes before making any decisions. There are lots of caveats and exclusions that may be applied to public liability policies and the type of cover may vary greatly. It’s important that you understand exactly what the policy wordings mean, so if you’re in any doubt then do seek advice. Remember it’s better to pay more for your premium now, rather than risk being let down by poor cover in the event of a claim.