Business Insurance

Do You Need Public Liability Insurance if You're Self Employed?

A lot of self-employed people need public liability insurance. Answer these questions to find out if you should get covered today.

Wondering if you're one of the self-employed people who needs public liability insurance? Public liability can be very important for some self-employed people (you can read why here), especially those in certain occupations or who work in certain locations. Let's run through some critical questions together to see if you really need it, or not.

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Do you have in-person exposure to clients or other people?

If you/your business have physical interactions with people who don't work for you, you need public liability insurance to protect against lawsuits. Why? Any contact is an opportunity for a personal injury situation. Someone could simply trip and fall, blaming your business; or slip on a wet floor; or any one of a myriad of other reasons.

Public liability (PL) insurance protects against personal injury claims made by third parties. Third parties are essentially anyone not part of your business, such as clients, customers, vendors, landlords, passersby, other members of the public and even other businesses. PL insurance can cover legal defence costs as well as compensation payments.

Here are some situations that could result in a lawsuit to illustrate how important public liability insurance can be for a self-employed person:

Examples

  • A self-employed gardener accidentally leaves a tap on; overnight during a cold spell the running water freezes on the pavement leaving a large ice patch. The client slips and falls on the ice when they step out of the house in the morning.
  • A self-employed dog walker is exercising three dogs when one in her care jumps on an elderly man, knocking him to the ground and injuring him.
  • A self-employed decorator leaves equipment in a hallway that the homeowner trips on, falling and injuring their back.

Do you work in or with other people's property?

Public liability insurance also protects against accidental damage to property belonging to third parties. So if your business involves working with or just spending time in other people's properties, you need PL cover.

Examples

  • A self-employed gardener accidentally breaks an expensive water feature in a client's garden.
  • A self-employed electrician drops a ladder, cracking a large picture window in a client's home.
  • A self-employed hairdresser spills hair dye on a client's expensive silk dress.
  • A self-employed interior designer enters a client's property carrying an armful of heavy fabric samples, and accidentally knocks over an expensive antique vase in the hall.

If you've answered 'yes' to either of these questions, meaning you or your business (including employees) have any in-person exposure to other people and/or their property—you probably need public liability insurance. Let's now look at some occupations that commonly need PL cover.

Types of self-employed occupations that need public liability insurance

Some occupations are much more prone to third party personal injury or accidental damage lawsuits. In particular, occupations that put you in direct contact with people who aren't your employees, or their property, need PL cover—in particular ones that are more hazardous.

Here is a list of common occupations that do generally need public liability insurance. However, this list is not complete so if your occupation is not listed here it doesn't necessarily mean you don't need PL insurance. This list is meant to give you an idea of who typically needs this type of cover.

  • Artist
  • Architect
  • Accountant
  • Bricklayer
  • Builder
  • Carer
  • Carpenter
  • Cleaner
  • Courier
  • Dance teacher
  • Dog boarder
  • Electrician
  • Gardener
  • Hairdresser
  • Handyman
  • HGV Drivers
  • Labourer
  • Massage therapist
  • Mechanic
  • Painter and decorator
  • Plasterer
  • Plumber
  • Roofer
  • Subcontractor
  • Tradesman
  • Tutor

There are certainly other professions that might need the protection of a public liability insurance policy, even if it doesn't seem obvious at first glance. For example, a self-employed, freelance web designer might not strike you as the type to need public liability cover, and they probably don't need it if they only work from home and meet clients virtually. But if they meet clients in person or even have exposure to members of the public while working then it's a good idea.

Imagine a scenario a web designer is working in a coffee shop and their laptop bag falls into the walkway, tripping a customer carrying hot coffee, causing them to fall and burn on themselves. Who is to blame? They might say your business and slap you with a legal action.

If you're self employed and you have any in-person exposure to people who aren't in your employ—clients, customers, vendors, landlord, passersby, etc.—or their property then you should have public liability insurance.

Find self-employed public liability insurance here.
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Erin Yurday

Erin Yurday is the CEO, Co-founder and Editor of NimbleFins. Prior to NimbleFins, she worked as an investment professional and as the finance expert in Stanford University's Graduate School of Business case writing team. Read more on LinkedIn.

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