There are few professions or businesses that can safely do without public liability insurance cover, no matter how small they are. All self employed people should give careful thought to whether they have appropriate cover in place for their business. It should not just be thought of as something you need if you are going out undertaking manual work with inherent risks associated.
It really is necessary to all types of business where you either have clients on your business premises (even if it is your home) or if you ever go out to visit clients or work outside your own home. Even for people who work at home it is not something you can do without if you have any direct contact with people either at your place or work, theirs or other premises.
Public liability insurance should be regarded as an essential business expense and included in your business planning and financial planning process. The cost of proper cover will be tiny compared to the cost of facing a claim for damages without any insurance cover in place. What public liability cover is for is protection against your own and your company’s legal responsibility for any damage caused to property or people as a result of your business activity. The cover is relates to incidents involving third parties so does not cover any employees you may have, which is usually dealt with under separate employee liability cover.
There are an enormous range of possible situations where you could need to defend yourself against a claim for damages to people or properties and some of these can be substantial. One of the main costs could be legal costs, which quickly mount up with claims of this sort, no matter how unfounded or unreasonable you think the claims are. They have to be properly defended and your insurance will cover the significant legal costs of doing this.
The only kind of self employed person who could perhaps do without this type of cover is someone who works at home, who never goes out to meet any clients and who never has anyone visit at their home.
The sort of thing that can be covered range from small accidents to property while working on someone else’s premises, to liability for injuries to people who visit you on your own premises. So the most obvious examples would be knocking over something valuable while moving around a client’s house or cutting through a water pipe by accident and causing flood damage. A common one is for people to trip over something of slip on a wet surface and injure themselves. This could be as a result of work you are carrying out inside a client’s property or it could even be a passer by outside or in the street.
Much depends on the nature of your work, and while these are the most obvious examples, there are many such possibilities for almost any type of activity, both on other people’s property and on your own. Some of these very simple and apparently trivial things can actually lead to lasting and serious injuries, which can prove very costly in terms of compensation claims.
The cost of not having adequate cover could be far greater than the cost of premiums, which can be very reasonable. A claim against you when you are uninsured could even damage your business fatally. Most policies will offer a choice of how much cover you want, but a million pounds is usually the minimum. Sounds scary, but that does not mean the premiums will be of that order. The cost should be in relation to the size and business volume of your operation, so for a self employed person running a small business, premiums will not be prohibitive.
Shop around using the internet and check policy conditions carefully to ensure you are being quoted for the cover you really need.
By James Clapton