Don’t slip up – how to protect your business against costly claims

slip over

Accidents can happen anywhere and at any time, and can be deeply costly if your business is held liable for any damaged caused or injury sustained.

Lee Evans, an insurance comparison expert at, explains how public liability insurance works and when you should consider taking out a policy.

Your firm is unveiling an exciting new service and has booked a swish hotel for the launch event. The room is packed and everything is going well – until the sales director of a client company suddenly trips over a wire from your display stand and breaks her arm.

As she will not be able to drive for a few months, it will affect her company’s sales figures. Because it was your equipment that caused the accident, you are not covered by the hotel’s insurance policy and now face the prospect of paying thousands of pounds in compensation.

No matter what line of business you are in, no matter whether you are a big company, a medium-sized enterprise or a sole trader, and no matter how careful you are about health and safety, accidents can and do happen. If you come into contact with the public you can be held liable if someone is injured or their property is damaged as a result of your business.

It could be a visitor slipping on a wet floor at your office, a prospective client at your exhibition stand suffering an injury, or one of your salespeople injuring a member of staff while visiting a client’s property.

The best public liability insurance policies should protect you against the cost of such claims. While it is not a legal requirement in the UK – unless you own a horse-riding business, are a public sector contractor or want to join certain trade bodies – it iswell worth considering.

What does public liability insurance cover?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      If a claim for injury or damage is made against your business public liability insurance can help to cover legal fees, compensation, the cost of repairs and medical fees.

You can take out a policy that’s tailored to meet the level of risk your business might face, with most policies ranging from £1,000,000 to £10,000,000. In some cases a minimum amount of cover is expected, for example local councils often ask that contractorshave at least £5,000,000 of cover.

The cost of the policy will depend on a wide range of factors, such as the nature of your business, whether you or your staff visit customers in their homes or business premises and your previous claims history.

It’s worth bearing in mind that public liability insurance won’t cover claims made by your own employees, though. These claims are covered by employer’s liability insurance, which is a legal requirement in the UK if you employ staff.

Exactly what’s covered by a public liability policy can vary quite a bit from one insurance provider to the next, so you should always check the policy documents and be mindful of anyexclusions that are imposed. Common exclusions include damage to business premises, damage caused by a product you have provided and accidents involving business vehicles. There are separate insurance policies for each of these types of incidents.

Take cover – accidents do happen                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Even if you are only organising a one-off event, don’t forget about public liability insurance as there are special 24-hour policies for this purpose.

Accidents can happen anywhere and at any time, but public liability insurance can protect you and your business from risks arising from your day-to-day activities as well asthat big launch event.

There are plenty of policies on the market, so shop around to find the policy to suit your needs and budget.