How to Get Liability Insurance for a Small Business

Get small business liability insurance quotes.

How to Get Small Business Liability Insurance Quotes

In the UK there are three primary ways to go about getting liability insurance quotes for a small business: comparison sites, brokers and direct insurers. If you're really not sure where to begin, using a comparison site can be the quickest and easiest way to get your information in front of a number of insurance providers to start the process.

Depending on the situation, comparison sites may be able to provide you with quotes online immediately after you've filled out a quote form with some information about your business. However this is not always the case—business insurance is not as easy to buy online as, say, car insurance. A few brokers and direct insurers also offer online quotes, but these are few and far between.

Which is best to use for your small business insurance needs—comparison site, broker or direct insurer? It depends. And not surprisingly, there are pros and cons to each method. Let's discuss.

Comparison Sites

Comparing business insurance quotes via a comparison site can often be the most efficient way to connect with a wide range of brokers and insurers in the shortest time. This saves you from filling out quote forms individually with separate brokers or insurers.

Comparison sites can be best suited to businesses with straightforward insurance needs (e.g., standard, lower-risk businesses with no previous claims, etc.), however even more complicated needs can ultimately be served by a comparison site because they can also connect you with brokers who may be able to handle more complex situations. In those cases you'll certainly need to discuss your insurance needs over the phone, as online quote systems will be unable to assess the risks properly and produce a quote.

If you'd like to get started with a comparison site search engine, our business insurance partner QuoteZone can be a good place to get started. Simply Business is another popular comparison engine and the biggies like GoCompare and Money Supermarket also offer business insurance functionality.

Pros and Cons of using a comparison site

Pros

  • Fill out one form to potentially get quotes from multiple insurance providers (brokers and insurance companies)
  • Free to use

Cons

  • Might struggle to quote for unique/difficult/niche situations

Business Insurance Brokers

Brokers work for you and typically survey a number of insurers to find the best insurance at the cheapest price. They can save you time and money on the premium, but charge fees. Brokers can be especially useful for insuring niche businesses or those with a hard-to-insure profile (e.g., previous or outstanding claims, hazardous or regulated work, etc.)—and also for answering your questions about coverage.

For example, many business owners wonder what limit of insurance they need, which is something a broker can help you work through.

The best way to find a good business insurance broker can be word of mouth, but failing that you can use a comparison site or find a BIBA broker using their search tool. BIBA stands for the British Insurance Brokers' Association, and they're the UK's leading general insurance intermediary organisation. Brokers come in all shapes and sizes—some are one-person shops while others such as Towergate operate nationwide service.

Pros and Cons of using a broker

Pros

  • Talk to one party to potentially get quotes from multiple insurance companies
  • Expert advice to answer your questions
  • Insurance brokers work for you, not the insurance companies

Cons

  • There can be variability in quality and service from broker to broker
  • They typically charge extra fees to arrange, change or cancel a policy
  • Not all brokers work with all insurers

Business Insurance Direct Insurers

A few insurance companies work directly with their business insurance customers, although many can only be accessed through a broker. If you go direct, know that the agent you speak with is working for the company, not you. Direct business insurance companies include Direct Line and AXA.

Before going the direct route, remember you'll only get one quote from a company and it may not be competitive, so there's a risk you'll overpay. For example, an insurer may not have an appetite for businesses in your line of work and they might consequently charge a high premium, higher than you'd need to pay elsewhere.

Even if you decide going direct is the best option for you, be sure to check quotes elsewhere even if just to give yourself comfort that you're getting a good deal from a direct insurer.

Pros and Cons of using a direct insurer

Pros

  • No middle men
  • No extra fees
  • Potentially better online account access

Cons

  • Take longer to check prices in the market
  • Insurance agents work for the insurer, not you

Whichever route you take may require some patience because business insurers sometimes want extra information before they can quote. You may need to speak to a provider after entering your information into an online quote system. In large part it depends on how complicated, risky and unusual your business and line of work are.

The types of business liability insurance that you need are also a factor. For example, public liability insurance is very common and easier to secure coverage quickly; on the other hand the process of buying professional indemnity insurance (aka professional liability) can require a longer application process as an insurer gathers information to determine what level of risk is posed to them by your business.

Regardless of the path you take to get quotes, before you sign on the dotted line be sure that an insurer is qualified to offer insurance by checking the Financial Services Register, which is maintained by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Business insurance quotes

Fill out a quote here and our commercial insurance search engine partner QuoteZone will connect you with up to 5 insurance providers. You’ll have a chance to build a policy to fit your needs specifically, and ask any questions you might have before signing up. If you'd like to learn more about what you might need to pay for small business insurance, see our article on the cost of business insurance.

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What information do you need to get a small business liability insurance quote?

To get a small business insurance quote, you'll need some basic information about your business to hand:

  • Business name
  • Structure (e.g., sole trader, partnership, limited company)
  • Address
  • Turnover
  • Number of employees
  • Largest contract size (for professional indemnity quotes only)
  • Types of cover you need (e.g., public liability, employers' liability, professional indemnity, etc.)
  • Details of previous claims

Plus you'll need to answer a series of questions about your business that will depend on the work you do (e.g., a construction company will be asked if they work on riskier projects like hospitals).

UK's popular small business insurance providers

Here are some of the most prominent small business insurers in the UK, along with information on how to access their products: direct or via a broker.

Insurance CompanyBuy DirectVia Broker
Ageasx
Allianzx
Avivaxx
AXAxx
Markelxx
Canopiusx
NIGx
QBEx
RSAx
Zurichx
Direct Line for Businessx

You'll also be able to access many of these providers via comparison sites.

FAQs

Can you buy small business liability insurance directly from an insurer, or do you need a broker?

In many cases, small business insurance policies are arranged through a broker in the UK. Small business owners needing some guidance and support to ensure they find the right cover at the right price can benefit from using a broker who is an expert in business insurance can help navigate the market. This is especially true for products like professional indemnity insurance, where insurers can be wary of offering cover to certain types of businesses or ones they don't understand well.

That said, you can buy business insurance direct from Direct Line for Business, AXA, etc. without using a broker. FYI, while Direct Line offers an online quote system, we've found that after filling in your details you won't necessarily get an online quote—you may still need to call in to talk to an insurance agent.

While going direct can seem convenient and result in lower fees, keep in mind that insurance agents works for the insurance company (e.g., Direct Line, AXA, etc.) not for you. Also they only quote for their in-house products, and these might be a lot higher than you'd pay elsewhere in the market; on the other hand an insurance broker should put your application out to a number of insurers to help find you a competitive price for the cover you need—but they charge arrangement and other admin fees.

What to look for in a business insurance broker

How do you find a good business insurance broker? Brokers come in various sizes, have unique fee structures and specialise in different niche markets (e.g., accountancy, finance, design, etc.). In addition, not all brokers work with all insurers, and vice versa.

Top Tip: There are a lot of brokers in the business insurance market, but there is a much smaller pool of underwriters. While it can be useful to test out more than one broker, be wary of doing so because they might all be sending your details to the same set of underwriters. Before asking a broker to get quotes for you, ask which underwriters they'll use. This will help you avoid doubling up and also ensure that you get wide coverage of the market. Here are some questions you should ask a broker before signing up:

Questions to ask a broker

  • Insurers: Which insurers does a broker usually place business with? And which insurers do they not have a relationship with?
  • Niche: How much business does a broker place for businesses in your field?
  • Fees: What fees does a broker charges to arrange a policy for you?
  • Finance: Can a broker arrange monthly payments if you need them, and if so, what it will cost?

In addition, it's wise to check customer reviews on sites like Trustpilot, Reviews.co.uk and Google to see what real customers have to say. For example, customers have rated Towergate with 4.6 stars out of 5 at Feefo and our business insurance partner QuoteZone with 4.8 out of 5 stars at Reviews.co.uk.

When checking reviews be sure to look at the one-star reviews as these indicate a 'bad' experience. Look for customer experiences related to the ease of contacting customer service, speed of getting insurance documents, claims experiences and renewal prices. Also check the number of reviewers as reviews with only a few dozen ratings are less reliable. That said, smaller brokers might not have any online reviews, or only a few, which is not necessarily a bad thing—this is where word of mouth comes in handy. A smaller broker can be a great option, especially one who's come highly recommended.

Can I get an online quote for my small business insurance?

It's pretty easy to find online quote systems for small business insurance, but they aren't all able to produce online quotes for a quick purchase. In that case the back-end search engine will hopefully find potentially suitable insurance providers to connect you with to finish the quote and purchase process. It depends on the engine you're using as well as the details of your application, and which type of coverages you need.

To ensure you get the cover you need and that the insurer has a good understanding of the business risks, you may need to talk with an agent or broker before getting a formal quote. But if this means you get the most suitable cover at the best price, it is well worth a few minutes on the phone.

Find public liability today.
Powered by QuoteZone.

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  • Rated 4.8 out of 5 stars on Reviews.co.uk
  • 300,000+ quotes completed per month
  • Fill out only one form

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