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Should I check a tradesman’s insurance?

Engaging the services of a tradesman to perform work carries with it a number of risks. Tradesman will need to have the correct insurance in place to guard against issues, including work-related accidents or events that cause damage to a client’s home or personal property.

To guard against incidents and ensure full protection against accidents and damages it is wise to ensure that any tradesman hired to perform work has adequate insurance coverage to protect against claims and legal disputes. Without it, homeowners may be exposed to expensive damages without any legal method of seeking compensation.

Most professional tradesmen will carry some sort of insurance. Policies can include protection against a number of liabilities but at the very least a public liability insurance policy should be in place to guard fully against issues.

How to check a tradesman's insurance

Verifying that any tradesman hired is a qualified professional can be done in several ways, from checking references and reviews to membership of trade associations to ensure qualifications and professionalism. Along with making sure that any tradesman has the necessary skills to perform the work, it is wise to request proof of insurance.

Tradesmen that have invested in an insurance policy to protect themselves and their customers from accidents and damages should be able to provide proof of protection without any problem. A number of insurance protections are available to tradesmen and depending on the business structure and the work being performed some may not be essential.

However, for any work that is being undertaken, public liability insurance is a must. It may also be advantageous for tradesmen to have professional indemnity insurance, depending on the type of work they do.

Public Liability Insurance

For accidents or injuries that happen during the course of work, this insurance will shield against compensation claims and legal fees. It will provide protection whether damages occur to the homeowner, other members of the household, or even members of the public. If the tradesman does not have this insurance, the person contracting them to perform work could be personally liable for any claims that arise.

Professional Indemnity Insurance

Problems and issues can arise long after building work has been completed. What may look like a professional job could degrade over time due to bad advice or professional negligence. If a tradesman gives advice that, if wrong, could result in a financial loss to a client then professional indemnity insurance can provide a financial buffer.

What to look for

Verifying a tradesman’s insurance is relatively simple and can be done by requesting to see their insurance certificate. If a policy has been purchased then a tradesman should be able to produce a certificate as evidence of an active policy, and some simple checks will ensure that the insurance will provide adequate protection in the event of any problems. If you want to keep a copy for your records, the tradesman can provide a photocopy or email copy; alternatively a letter of confirmation of cover could be provided by the tradesman's broker or insurer.

In the case of public liability or professional indemnity insurance, there are some things that should be included on the certificate.

Here’s what to look for:

Business name

The tradesman’s insurance certificate should include the business name or company name. These details should accurately match the person or business that is being hired. Any discrepancies mean that the policy may not provide financial protection in the event of claims being made.

Business description

The description of the business and the work that is insured should be included on the insurance certificate. The wording of business descriptions is typically quite broad but the work being requested should fall within the scope of the insurance cover. If the work being done is highly specialized then additional insurance may be required to provide full protection.

Review dates

This is extremely important to verify that the policy is in date and fully active. An expired policy will provide no protection against any claims made for damages or accidents. It could also leave homeowners open to personal liability. Along with making sure that the policy is active, expiration dates should be checked. Policies expiring during the course of the work could flag potential problems if the renewal is not handled on time.

Call the insurer

As a final check, the insurance provider can be contacted to validate the certificate and make sure that the provided documentation is genuine. The name of the insurance provider should be listed on the policy and a call to the company provides an opportunity to ask questions about the policy and ensure that any work being performed is fully covered.

Check policy limits

Simply having the bare minimum of insurance coverage may not be adequate especially if the work being completed is a large or expensive project. Insurance coverage like public liability and contract works can be obtained for many different levels of coverage with limits reaching into the millions of pounds. Most work will be covered by standard policies but it is worth checking policy limits to be assured that adequate levels of financial protection are in place.


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.