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Self-employed public liability insurance

If you’re self-employed, a sole trader or you work as a freelancer, you may need public liability insurance. Find out more here and see if it’s right for your business. 

If you’re self-employed, a sole trader or you work as a freelancer, you may need public liability insurance. Find out more here and see if it’s right for your business. 

David Edbrooke
Sub editor
3
minute read
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Posted 30 JANUARY 2020

Do self-employed and sole traders need public liability insurance? 

Public liability insurance is not a legal requirement. But if your business involves interactions with the public, you may need this type of cover. That’s regardless of the size of your business and whether you work alone. Public liability insurance can cover you if property is damaged, or someone is hurt or killed as a result of your business activities. 
 
For instance, if you’re an electrician and you make a mistake while wiring a building which leads to someone getting an electric shock, you could be held liable for their injury.  
 
If you’re self-employed, a freelancer or a sole trader, the legal proceedings that may result could consume a lot of your time. And whether you’re found to be at fault or not, the legal costs could damage your business, even causing it to close. 

What does public liability insurance cover? 

Public liability insurance can cover your legal costs and any compensation you may have to pay if someone is hurt or killed. It can also cover you if someone’s property gets damaged as a result of your business activities. 
 
It may also cover public events organised by your business – though if you are organising an event (even a one-off), you should also consider special events insurance.
 
It can be especially important for some self-employed and sole traders, because some organisations won’t sign a contract to work with you unless you can prove you have public liability insurance.

How much does public liability insurance cost? 

The cost of public liability insurance for self-employed and sole traders depends on many factors, including the type of industry you work in. 
 
Your occupation: manual workers such as plumbers and builders generally pay more than clerical workers, like graphic designers, as their work is more likely to physically affect members of the public. 
 
The jobs you do: the premium you’ll pay also depends on the size and risk level of the jobs you take on. If you work in large and busy public buildings, for example, expect to pay more than if you work mostly in private homes. 
 
The size of your business: your turnover is one of the main factors insurance providers look at. 
  
Your claims history: you may have to pay more if you’ve made public liability claims in the past.

Do I need public liability insurance if I work from home? 

If people visit your home for business purposes, you might need to consider public liability insurance for self-employed and sole traders.  
 
Your regular home insurance may not cover you for business-related claims, so if anything happens to a business visitor or their property in your home – they spill coffee on their laptop, for example – you could be liable.  
 
As well as choosing public liability insurance if you need it, you should always tell your home insurance provider that you intend to work from home and make sure you have the right cover for your business equipment. 

How can I get a public liability insurance quote? 

If you’re self-employed or a sole trader, you’re just a few clicks away from seeing quotes especially for you. 
 
Before you start your quote, you’ll want to have details to hand such as: 

  • your trade or industry 
  • what type of business or professional you are (sole trader/small business owner etc) 
  • how long you’ve been self-employed 
  • your expected turnover for the year ahead 

You’ll have the option to enter other information, for instance if you want to add insurance for your business equipment or premises. 
 
We’ll show you a list of insurance providers who offer public liability insurance for self-employed or sole traders. These providers may want to ask their own questions, too. 

What other types of insurance do self-employed people need? 

If you have even one employee who is not a direct family member, you will need employers’ liability insurance. Unlike public liability insurance, this is a legal requirement.  
 
If you offer advice or professional services, professional indemnity insurance can cover the cost of paying compensation if faulty advice or a service causes a client to lose money, or damages their reputation. 

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