Carpenter and Joiner Insurance: What Do I Really Need?

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What is Insurance for Carpenters and Joiners?

As a carpenter or joiner, your work days can involve using sharp tools, heavy equipment and dangerous solvents and chemicals—all of which contribute to added professional risk and the increased chance of accidents and liability. You need the right insurance to protect yourself financially.

Read our in-depth guide to learn about the different types of cover you might need, as well as typical costs. For quick definitions of each type of cover, see the blue boxes below. If you still have questions, fill out a quote form to receive quotes from up to 5 insurance providers.

Types of Insurance for a Self-Employed Carpenter and Joiner

There are 5 main types of insurance for carpenters and joiners—these apply if you're a self-employed sole trader, but also if you run a larger small business.

Public Liability Insurance

Public Liability will keep you covered if you accidentally cause damages or injury to members of the general public.

Carpenter and Joiner Public Liability insurance will keep you protected if a customer, member of the public or other third party is injured or incurs damages to their property while you’re working. Public liability insurance for carpenters and joiners will cover any compensation, legal costs and medical expenses a court might award against you.

It's often sold alongside Product Liability insurance, which protects you if any of the work you’ve done causes damage or injury after you’ve completed it. The two combined give you full peace of mind that you’ll be covered if anybody is hurt or any damages occur, whether it’s while you’re working or after you’ve left the site.

The typical levels of Public Liability are £1M, £2M, or £5M, but most insurers will happily cover you for more if you desire the additional coverage or regularly work on high value projects or in/around expensive property.

  • Injury Example: You leave your toolbox in a doorway while you take your lunch break, and your client trips over it and falls. They have to take 2 weeks away from work, and sue you for their lost pay and medical expenses.
  • Property Damage Example: While heading up stairs, your toolbox bashes the clients handrail and damages it. They sue you for the cost of repair.

Employers’ Liability Insurance

Employers' Liability covers you for claims made against you by your members of staff if they become injured or unwell while working for you.

Employers' Liability is a must have for any person or company that hires somebody else to work for them. Irrespective of whether they’re a full-time or part-time member of staff, and even if they’re only going to work for you for a single day, you’re legally required to hold a form of Employers’ Liability for that person to legally be able to work for you.

It will cover you in the event that, while employed by you, a member of staff is injured or becomes unwell due to the work they’ve done for you. Similar to Public Liability, it’ll cover you for any compensation or medical expenses awarded and any legal costs you incur.

The punishment for hiring someone without valid Employers’ Liability are steep—you can expect to pay up to £2,500 per day in fines for each day they work while unprotected.

  • Employers’ Liability Example: You’re paying somebody to help you with a simple piece of work that needs 2 pairs of hands. They cut themselves on a sharp tool you provided, and can’t go back to work for a week. They sue you to cover the lost wages and medical expenses.

Tools and Equipment Insurance

Tools cover can protect your work equipment against accidental damage, loss or theft.

Your tools and equipment are vital to the success of your business, without them you’d likely struggle to get anything done! Tools and Equipment coverage will help keep you up and running in the event that your tools are accidentally damaged/lost or stolen.

While not compulsory, many tradesmen enjoy the security a Tools policy can provide, letting them operate comfortably knowing that if a mistake or theft does happen they can quickly get back to work without impacting their relationship with the end client.

Many bespoke Carpenter and Joiner Public Liability policies can be easily modified to include Tools insurance, so keep a lookout for it while you’re building your policy online or on the phone with them.

Think ahead about where you’re going to keep your tools overnight as well—you’ll be charged more if you keep them in your van (and not a safe lockup) overnight due to the additional risk of theft. If you tend to drive long distances or over tricky surfaces, consider a form of Goods in Transit coverage as well, in case your tools are damaged while you’re travelling from A to B.

Business Vehicle Insurance

Business Vehicle insurance protects you if you're involved in an accident while driving for work purposes, and usually includes your personal use insurance within it.

If you’re going to start using your personal vehicle to support your business, you’re required to upgrade your Social, Domestic & Personal (SD&P) policy into Business Use insurance. Failure to do so risks voiding your insurance coverage (and thus driving uninsured), as your provider priced your policy to cover SD&P use, and wouldn’t have included the additional risks (extra mileage, unfamiliar roads) that business use tends to bring about.

Business use policies generally match the 3 levels you’ll be used to with your SD&P insurance, and most providers will be happy to upgrade your existing coverage, so it doesn’t take very long to get sorted out. Be prepared to pay a bit more to cover you for the extra wear and tear, however.

Income Protection Insurances

Income Protection can cover you financially in the event you're out of work in the short, medium or long term.

Designed to keep your finances protected in the event you’re unable to work, Income Protection insurance will help you stay afloat if an injury or illness puts you out of work. They’re generally split into shorter-term income protection insurance, and longer-term critical illness policies.

Short-term income protection will pay out a % of your previous wages/pay (usually between 50-70%) while you’re unable to work, typically for up to 1 year away from your tools. Critical illness policies will offer you a one-off, lump-sum payment in the event that you’re not likely to return to work indefinitely, say due to losing a limb in an accident.

Do Carpenters and Joiners Need Insurance?

Yes, for the most part carpenters and joiners need some form of insurance before they pick up their tools. Not all the insurances discussed are required, but many carpenters and joiners value the safety net their insurances offer them.

Public Liability is not strictly legally required, but the industry generally considers it essential. Most companies, public sector organisations or larger-scale projects won’t consider working with you if you don’t have sufficient Public Liability coverage. Accompanying Product Liability coverage will keep you protected if any injury or damages come as a result of your work after you’ve finished it—say if a cabinet you’d put together for someone fell apart and hurt someone in the process.

Employers Liability is a must-have legally if you hire anybody, whether that’s full-time, part-time, or for a one-time job. It’ll protect you if your hire becomes unwell or is hurt as a result of their work for you. Similarly, you’ll need to tell your vehicle insurance provider if you intend to use it for work-related purposes, and upgrade your coverage into a Business Use Vehicle policy.

Tools cover will protect your equipment in the case of accidental loss or damage, or if it’s stolen from you. It’ll pay out the cost of replacing that tool with a similar or equal product, so you’ll be able to keep your projects on track even if something does go wrong.

If you work on any exceptionally large or complex products, or are involved in any design or blueprinting, it’ll be worth checking out Professional Indemnity Insurance. It’ll keep you covered in the event that the client is unhappy with your end product, whether due to a mistake, misunderstanding or whether they’re simply displeased with the final result. Like Public Liability, it’ll protect you both for any compensation awarded and any legal expenses incurred.

Some Specialist Carpenter and Joiner insurance will bundle a combination of these together for you, including some additional extras such as legal expenses, in the event you’re not covered by the policy. Commercial property insurance could also be necessary if you operate a workshop or joinery and would like to protect the property and its contents in a single, convenient policy—and property owners' liability insurance can also be wrapped up with commercial buildings cover.

How much is Public Liability Insurance for a Carpenter and Joiner?

You can expect £2 million of Public Liability coverage for a carpenter to cost you from around £84, estimated for a sample profile. You can see below a breakdown of how much you might expect to pay for different example policies that could be popular for carpenters and joiners—useful to see how extra add-ons can affect the cost of carpenter insurance.

graph showing the average cost electricians insurance in the UK
Average Cost of Carpenter and Joiner Insurance
£2m Public Liability (PL)£84
£5m PL£102
£2M PL, £2,000 Tools (not left in van overnight)£139
£2M PL, £2,000 Tools (left in van overnight)£180
£2M PL, £10,000 Tools (left in van overnight)£456
£2M PL, Personal Accident£165
£2M PL, Personal Accident, £2,000 Tools (left in van overnight)£262
£2M PL + 1 Employee + £2,000 Tools + Personal Accident£628
£2M PL + 5 Employees + £2,000 Tools + Personal Accident£1,417

The cost of £84 for carpenter’s public liability is slightly more than the average cost of Public Liability in the UK, unsurprising given that you’re working with woodworking tools and sharp/heavy equipment.

You’ll notice that hiring employees adds a noticeable amount of costs to any policy, due to a combination of the addition of Employers’ Liability and the extra chances for accidents or mistakes to occur, so keep this in mind before bringing someone on board.

How can I save money on my Carpenter/Joiner insurance?

You’ll also save money if you’re a carpenter or joiner who doesn’t use any woodworking tools (say, to design and build a cabinet)

Well-known methods to save money on other insurances still apply here—more years of experience, lower project values (less likely to cause expensive damages) and traditionally ‘safe’ locations (away from airports, power stations etc.) will help you keep your costs low. And, naturally, shopping around multiple providers to find the best price will help you get the best possible deal.

Like other insurances, you’ll also pay less if you haven’t had any previous criminal convictions or policies rejected for you, your company or any of its directors.

Where can I get carpenter / joiner insurance quotes?

Compare carpenter / joiner insurance quotes here—after filling out a short form you'll receive quotes from up to five insurance providers. You'll have the chance to talk on the phone if you have questions that you want to discuss. Then choose the cover that offers the best price and features for your needs.

Carpenter and Joiner Pay and Market Statistics

graph showing the average salary for carpenters in the uk
RegionAverage Salary
National Average£27,101
North West£25,151
Yorkshire and The Humber£25,861
South East£26,424
West Midlands£27,358
North East£27,519
East Midlands£27,894
South West£28,648

The British Woodworking Federation estimates that woodwork and joinery in the UK is worth around £3.8 billion, which is spread across over 5,000 companies nationwide.

Our quotes were collected for a male carpenter with no previous experience. They live in the outskirts of London, and weren’t covered for any risky locations or additional extras (such as woodworking machinery).

Cheapest quotes (no less than 3) were averaged to give us our expected costs, and your prices may be different depending on traditional variables such as age, experience and location.

Your costs may be higher or lower depending on the difference in variables your risk profile is measured by.

Luke Masters

Prior to NimbleFins, Luke studied economics at Brunel University and worked at FreshMinds, Investigo and BMW. His work in data analytics, pricing, strategy and business development helped him write business insurance content to support SMEs at NimbleFins. He now works at DataPOWA, a sports & entertainment data analytics company. Read more on LinkedIn.


The guidance on this site is based on our own analysis and is meant to help you identify options and narrow down your choices. We do not advise or tell you which product to buy; undertake your own due diligence before entering into any agreement. Read our full disclosure here.