Scaffolder Insurance: What Do You Really Need?

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While scaffolding can be a risky business, having the right insurance coverage in place can help protect you, your employees and your business financially if someone is injured or property is damaged in the course of your work.

Plus, having a suitable public liability policy in place may be required by your clients; and employers' liability is compulsory by law if you have anyone working for you. Here's what you need to know about scaffolders insurance before you buy.

What Kind of Insurance Does a Scaffolder Need?

While insurance needs are unique to each business, here are some of the more types of insurance that scaffolders frequently need. We've also included some examples to illustrate when a type of insurance could potentially be useful.

1. Public Liability insurance protects your scaffolding business financially if a member of the public or a client is accidentally injured, or their property damaged. If there is an incident on one of your jobs, public liability insurance covers related legal fees and compensation costs. Most clients will only hire a scaffolder who has public liability insurance, and they may have a minimum coverage requirement so ask your clients how much cover they expect before you buy a policy. Public Liability insurance is typically offered with £1 million, £2 million, £5 million or £10 million of cover.

  • Bodily Injury Example: A member of the public has an injury due to fall of materials from the scaffolding, and suffers a serious concussion. The person sues you for lost wages and the NHS could sue you to recoup ambulance call out charges and hospital fees.
  • Property Damage Example: One of your employees accidentally drops a heavy item while erecting scaffolding at a client's property, damaging roof tiles on a neighboring house. Your client's neighbor sues you for the damage.

2. Employers' Liability insurance protects against compensation claims by current (or former) employees against injuries or illnesses that resulted from their work for you. If you have any employees (this can include permanent and temporary workers, contractors, etc.), then Employers' Liability is required by law under the Employers’ Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act 1969. The law stipulates a minimum of £5 milion of employers' liability cover, but in reality £10 million is more usual.

  • Example: An employee trips on a clamp that was left on the scaffolding and falls. He blames you for his serious injury and sues your business for negligence.

3. Tool and Equipment Cover covers the cost of replacing stolen tools and equipment. Tool cover can even protect tools left in a van or truck overnight, although the premium for this coverage will be higher than if you store your tools inside a locked building each night. Coverage will vary depending on your needs, but frequently ranges from £1,000 to £10,000 or more.

4. Personal Accident insurance can provide financial protection if an employee is seriously injured at work, compensating them for lost wages or providing cover for medical expenses. It typically also covers death. Maximum amounts vary but you'll frequently see coverages of £5,000 to £20,000 for an injury and £40,000 or even more for an accidental death. Compensation can be a weekly benefit for temporary incapacitation, or a lump sum payment for injuries that permanently affect a worker's ability to go back to work.

  • Example: An employee slips while climbing the scaffolding, breaking his leg. He is unable to work for 6 weeks. Insurance can provide a weekly benefit while the employee is off work.

5. Commercial Vehicle insurance protects your business financially if you or one of your employees has an accident while driving your scaffolding truck that injures someone or damages property. Third Party Only cover will only covers damage to third parties, not you, your employees or your truck. Third Party, Fire and Theft policies will cover third party damage as well as fire or theft of your truck. Comprehensive policies will cover 3rd party damage and fire and theft, but will also protect you and your vehicle from injury or damage due to a road traffic accident.

  • Example: Your scaffolding truck is stolen overnight.
  • Example: Your employee has an accident while driving to a client, causing damage to another car for which you are liable.

In addition, a scaffolder business might need other types of coverage such as plant and machinery insurance, equipment in transit, business equipment insurance, etc.

How do I Find the Best Scaffolding Insurance for Me?

Here are a few tips to help you select the best scaffolders' insurance policy for your needs:

  • Customisable cover: No two businesses are the same, so look for coverage that you can customise to your business needs.
  • Financial strength: Check the financial strength of an underwriter before you sign up by looking for financial strength ratings from Fitch, Standard & Poor's. A.M. Best and Lloyd's.
  • Customer reviews: Read customers reviews online—Trustpilot and reviews.io are the largest customer reviews sites in the UK.
  • Cheap quotes: Insurance quotes can vary significantly from one insurer to another for the same coverages, so it's always smart to check multiple sources—save time by doing this via a comparison site.

How Much is Insurance for a Scaffolder?

Even the cheapest, most basic public liability business insurance for a scaffolder (with no employees or additional coverages) will cost at least £725 a year. Given the risky nature of the business, scaffolder insurance is much more expensive than average. For example, we found the average cost of public liability insurance in the UK was £118, which is a fraction of what a scaffolding business would pay.

Add to this employers' liability insurance for a single employee and you can expect to pay at least £2,000 for your business insurance. Insurance prices are extremely variable, however, and will ultimately depend on the details of your business and your particular situation, as well as the insurer.

Scaffolding Employment Statistics

For 2019, the average annual pay for a scaffolder was £35,511 in the UK, up 0.6% from 2018. While wages increased slightly, there were fewer jobs available. In 2018 there were an estimated 17,000 scaffolding jobs in the UK, but this number dropped 12% to 15,000 for 2019.

Scaffolder Employment Statistics 2019
Average annual pay£35,511
Annual change in pay0.6%
Number of jobs in the UK15,000

Scaffolding Accident and Injury Statistics

According to the National Access and Scaffolding Association (NASC) 2020 Safety Report, there were 74 scaffolding incidents recorded in 2019, the lowest level ever reported and a drop of 35% from 2018. Slips, trips and falls on the same level was the most common cause of accident and injury, representing more than a third of all reported injuries—38% to be exact. Manual handling accidents were the second most common cause, accounting for 24% of scaffolding injuries.

Scaffolder Incident Statistics 2020NumberPercentage of Total
Slips, trips and falls on the same level2838%
Manual handling1824%
Falls from height1216%
Falls of materials912%
Other79%
Total injuries74100%

Sources:

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