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Self-employed public liability insurance

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

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

Written by
Mubina Pirmohamed
Business and landlord insurance expert
Last Updated
17 FEBRUARY 2023
3 min read
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Do I need public liability insurance if I’m self-employed?

Public liability insurance isn’t a legal requirement in the UK. But you’re likely to need it if your business sees you interact with the public.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a large company or a one-man band, it’s possible you could damage someone’s property, or even hurt or kill someone in the line of your business activities. Public liability insurance is there to protect you if that happens. 

It doesn’t matter what field you work in – for example, if you’re an electrician and someone gets an electric shock from your faulty wiring, you could be held liable. Public liability insurance will cover your legal costs, along with any compensation payout. Similarly, if you’re a carpenter and the shelves you build collapse, causing someone an injury, you’ll be covered for any legal claims.  

Without public liability insurance in place, you’d be liable for these costs yourself.

What does public liability insurance cover? 

Public liability insurance will cover your legal costs, as well as any compensation you may have to pay if someone is hurt or killed as a result of your business activities. It can also cover you if someone’s property is damaged.
Depending on your policy, public liability insurance may also cover events you organise – although for this you should also consider taking out events insurance.
You may find that public liability insurance is good for business, as some organisations won’t work with you unless you can prove you have a policy in place. Local councils, for example, will often only offer you a contract if you have a minimum £5 million cover level.

How much is public liability insurance for the self-employed? 

How much you pay for your public liability insurance will depend on a number of factors, including: 

The size of your business — the higher your turnover, the more you’re likely to pay. 

Your occupation — plumbers and builders generally pay more than say an illustrator, as their work poses a higher risk to the public.

Where you're based — what you might have to pay in legal fees may differ around the country, so this could affect your premium.

The jobs you do — how much you pay will depend on the size and risk of the jobs you take on. If you work in large public buildings, you’ll probably be charged more than if you work in private homes. 
Your claims history — you may have to pay more if you’ve made public liability claims in the past.

Which provider you choose — shopping around could help you find a cheaper premium for similar cover.

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

If people visit your home for business purposes, you may need public liability insurance for self-employed and sole traders.  

You’ll probably find that your regular home insurance doesn’t cover you for business-related claims. If anything happens to a client or their belongings in your home – you spill coffee on their laptop and break it, for example – you could be liable.

If you work from home, remember to let your home insurance provider know, and make sure your business equipment is covered.

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 tailored to you. 

When you start your quote, you’ll be asked: 

  • 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 can add extra information if you want to insure your business tools, 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 have their own questions, too. 

Get a quote

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

Employers’ liability insurance could cover you if one of your employees becomes ill or is injured as a result of working for you. If you employ one or more people or are a limited company with multiple directors, it's a legal requirement to have cover. If you're not a limited company, it's not a legal requirement to have employers' liability insurance if the employees are immediate family members, though if a policy is in place it would still cover immediate family members working for you.

If you offer advice or professional services – if you’re an accountant, say, or a financial advisor – professional indemnity insurance can cover compensation costs if your advice causes a client to lose money, or damages their reputation. 

You might also want to consider:

  • Personal accident cover
    As a self-employed person or freelancer, you’re not entitled to sick pay. Personal accident insurance can therefore be a useful safety net if you find yourself unable to work.
  • Personal possessions contents insurance
    If you take expensive laptops and tech to cafes or workspaces, you’ll want to know that you’re covered if they break or go missing.
  • Health insurance
    As you won’t receive health insurance through your employer, you may wish to arrange it yourself.

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