Business Insurance

What's the Best Insurance for Self-Employed Carpenters/Joiners?

Carpenters and Joiners are used to delivering the highest level of service, and whether you work in a larger business or are self-employed your standards never falter. Our guide to self-employed carpentry/joinery insurance should explain everything you need to know while you're working for yourself.

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Carpentry and joinery are two of the oldest trades in the world, and while the world has changed around them, the goal of carpenters and joiners has remained the same—offering quality service and woodworking to your customers. As a self-employed carpenter or joiner, it’s important to be conscious of the risks you face on a day-to-day basis, and the costs of something going wrong.

If you ever do make a mistake, have an unhappy customer or become unwell your income can be impacted. A quality carpenters/joiners insurance policy will help protect you against many of the financial implications when something does go wrong. This guide will explain everything you need to know about self-employed carpentry and joinery insurance.

Our larger guide to general Carpentry and Joinery insurance is a great resource if you might like to learn more about the wide variety of insurances available to carpentry businesses with multiple employees, and we also give you an idea of the typical costs for some of these policies.

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Best Insurances for Self-Employed Carpenters and Joiners

Public Liability

Like many other popular trades in the UK, almost all carpenters and joiners can benefit from a quality Public Liability policy. It’s designed to protect you if a third party such as a customer other business or member of the general public incurs damages or injury as a result of the work you’re doing.

Don’t be surprised if most clients ask you to show them your Certificate of Insurance before they engage you—Public Liability can offer your clients peace of mind that if something does go wrong they’ll be covered. Additionally, already having a policy in place might prove to some customers that you’re a considerate and risk averse tradesman, and could improve your chances of winning a piece of work.

Your Public Liability will cover you for any legal fees you incur in the process of defending yourself, and if a court does award compensation against you then you’ll be covered for that too.


  • You’re installing a new cupboard for a customer, and while moving it through their home it hits against their wall and damages it. They sue you for the cost of having the wall repaired.
  • Another tradesman on a client site trips over a set of tools you’ve left out and can’t work for 2 weeks. They sue you for their lost income.

Product Liability

Product Liability is usually packaged with Public. The packaging can be a useful way to keep both coverages from one provider, but keep in mind you might get a better deal by shopping around

Product Liability insurance will insure you if a product you’ve sold or installed has an issue with it and causes damages to one of your customers. Combined with Public Liability, you’ll be able to rest easily at night knowing that you’re well covered, whether you’re in the process of working or have finished up and handed over the end product to the client.

It’s often bundled into Public Liability policies (sometimes without you realising) so if you do already have a Public Liability cover it’ll be worth checking with your provider before purchasing a Product Liability policy. If you don’t have one it can be very useful though, especially if you create high-value products/woodwork or often work on expensive projects.

It's worth noting that Product Liability won't cover you for poor workmanship—such a cover doesn't really exist.


  • You’ve built a set of outdoor chairs for a customer, however as they go to sit on it the leg snaps and they’re injured. They sue you for damages.
  • You’ve sold a handmade desk to a customer—it breaks and the laptop they kept on top of it is damaged. They sue you to replace the laptop.

Professional Indemnity

Professional Indemnity insurance for carpenters and joiners will protect you if a client thinks your service or work has been professionally negligent. If you draw up blueprints, offer advice on design or offer qualifications then you’ll almost certainly require a policy.

Professional Indemnity will cover you against a number of the different ways a customer could claim you’ve been “professionally negligent”. This could include an error in the design you made, a poor piece of professional advice you gave them or even if they’re just generally unhappy with the service you provided. Needless to say that when a customer does make claims like these, having a good insurance policy behind you can offer a lot of support, especially to the self-employed.


  • You’ve drawn up the blueprint for an expensive chest of drawers for a customer, however once they’ve paid to have it built they realise there’s an error in your work. They sue you for the cost of having the work redone from scratch
  • You’ve agreed to build a bunk bed for a customer, however when you deliver the final product they claim it isn’t what you agreed at all. They sue you to have the bed remade.

Between these three insurances, you should be well covered for anything that could go wrong with the third parties you’ll interact with while working (customers, public etc.) However, there are a number of additional methods to protect yourself financially against some of the risks you might face as a self-employed carpenter and joiner.

Business Protection insurances

Employers’ Liability

If you bring in someone to support you, you’re almost certain to need a form of Employers’ Liability

Employers' Liability insurance will cover you in the event that an employee you’ve hired becomes unwell or is injured during their work for you. It’ll cover anyone you hire, whether they’re full/part-time, and even contractors on one-off projects. It’s a legal requirement for almost every business in the UK that hires staff.

You’ll need a policy before that person works for you, and the punishments for not having a policy (or being able to present a valid one) are severe—up to £2,500 in fines per day that somebody works for you uninsured, and up to £1,000 in fines if you can’t present a valid certificate on request.


  • Insufficient safety equipment means a contractor you’ve hired contracts a minor respiratory issue due to dust particles. They can’t work for 2 weeks, and sue you for the lost wages.

Tools and Equipment

Tools and Equipment insurance will help protect your tools in the event they’re lost, stolen or damaged by fire or flood. A good policy can help to mitigate some of the financial loss these unfortunate events can cause, helping you to rebound quickly and reducing the impact on any of your clients.

Cover generally ranges from £1,000-£20,000, but higher amounts are available if you require them. Keep in mind that your insurer will only cover you to replace your tools with equivalent level equipment, so make sure you have a firm idea of how much it would cost you to replace everything when talking to your insurer.


  • Your workshop is broken into overnight and a few smaller power tools are stolen. Your tools cover insures you to replace them.

Income Protection

Being self-employed does mean forgoing some of the financial security that being a full-time employee can offer. One way to mitigate this is to insure yourself with a form of Income Protection or Critical Illness cover.

While the two do refer to similar protections, you’re more likely to see Income Protection refer to shorter term income cover—generally less than 1-2 years out of work and often from an injury or illness you expect to fully recover from.

Critical Illness is when something more serious has happened and you’re not expecting to return to carpentry for the foreseeable future. It’ll pay out a lump sum to help support you and your family while you're unable to work.


  • You badly injure your arm while carrying a heavy plank of wood and are going to be off work for the next 4 months. Your Income Protection covers you for 50-70% of your average monthly income while you’re recovering.

What Next?

If you have any further questions, check out our guide to Carpenter and Joiner insurance—our FAQ’s should answer some of the queries you might have. And if you’re ready to check out quotes, click the button down below and our partners QuoteZone will be happy to assist.

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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.