Builders public liability insurance explained | Compare the Market

Builders public liability insurance


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Frequently asked questions

  • What is public liability insurance for builders?
  • When might someone make a claim against me?
  • What will public liability insurance cover?
  • How much cover should I get?
  • What if I’m self-employed?
  • Do builders need employers’ liability cover?
  • How can I protect my equipment?
  • What if I’m working on a big job? Do I need extra insurance?
  • How can I compare builders’ insurance quotes?

What is public liability insurance for builders?

Construction is a hazardous industry, and you want to protect yourself and the public if something goes wrong. If someone makes a claim against you, public liability insurance offers you protection, covering all your legal costs and any compensation you might need to pay. 

Public liability insurance isn’t a legal requirement for businesses in the UK. But if you don't have it and someone makes a claim against you, the impact on you and your business could be hugely damaging. 

Accidents can happen, even if you have strict safety and security procedures in place. And public liability insurance can help protect your business from more than just financial costs – it can be critical for getting work:

  • it can be an essential requirement for potential customers, who won't consider using you for building work without it, so they know that you’re insured for unexpected events. Local authorities usually ask for a minimum cover level of £5 million before you can tender for work.
  • subcontractors without public liability insurance could lose out on valuable contracts from contractors who consider it an essential requirement and won't work with you unless you have it.

When might someone make a claim against me?

There are lots of situations when builders might find themselves facing a claim. For example: 

  • if a member of the public is injured or even killed as a result of your work. This could happen if equipment is left on a path and someone trips over it.  
  • if your work damages someone else’s property. You might put a ladder through someone’s window or scratch and dent their car. 

What will public liability insurance cover?

Depending on your policy, it could cover any legal costs, medical expenses and any compensation the injured party might claim. 

How much cover should I get?

That’s up to you and depends on the size of your business. A small to medium-sized business might get cover from between £1 million and £10 million. The higher your cover, the higher your premium will be, but it’s generally better to have too much cover than not enough. 

What if I’m self-employed?

Over a third (37%) of people working in skilled trades classified themselves as self-employed, according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). If you are one of them, you'll need to take action and get your own public liability insurance. 

Ideally, you should also consider taking out additional insurance to protect your income or business if something happened to you:

Do builders need employers’ liability cover?

If you employ anyone other than yourself and family members, then the short answer is yes. It’s also a legal requirement if you employ anyone. This will cover you for compensation claims if your employee suffers an injury or illness as a result of working for you.  

Every year, around 80,000 construction workers in Britain suffer from an illness they believe was caused or made worse by their work – so this type of cover makes sense. With 30 fatal injuries to workers and 64,000 non-fatal injuries to workers a year, protecting the financial future of your business is vital. 

And once your policy is in place, you’ll need to keep up with health and safety requirements or you might not be covered.

How can I protect my equipment?

Even the smallest construction company will own a huge array of tools and equipment, which will be expensive to replace if they’re stolen or damaged. The right tool and equipment insurance policy will ensure you’re protected should that happen.  

If you transport your tools in your van, you’ll also want to make sure they’re covered by your commercial van insurance.

What if I’m working on a big job? Do I need extra insurance?

If you’re working on a large refurbishment, you might want to consider contract works insurance. It's designed to cover work in progress on a building site. This could protect you if you need to restart the job due to theft, fire, flooding, a storm or malicious damage.  For example, if you had part-built a wall and a storm blew it over, contract works insurance could cover the cost of redoing the work. It can cover the cost of materials, labour and tools to put back the situation to how it was before the disaster happened. However, it won't cover damage to any existing structures on the site. So, for example, if you’re building a new extension and there's a flood, it could cover the extension you’re building but any damage to the main house should be covered by the homeowner’s buildings insurance.

How can I compare builders’ insurance quotes?

At Compare the Market, you can save time and money by comparing and buying the right cover for you and your business. And it’s easy to do. Simply answer a few questions about your business and we’ll pull together some quotes. If you prefer, you can speak to an expert. 

Other business insurance that builders may be interested in…

Public liability insurance

Get cover against claims if someone is injured or property damaged as a result or your work.

Employers’ liability insurance

You are legally required to have this insurance even if you employ just one person.

Business interruption insurance

Insurance to help compensate you for loss of profits if your business is unable to operate for a period for some unexpected reason.

Business life insurance

Insurance designed to help your business carry on if something happens to you or the key people in your business.

Van insurance

A guide to LGV insurance for business.

Commercial property insurance

Protect your business premises.

Business contents insurance

Protect your business equipment.
Home office insurance

The insurance you need when your run your business from your home.

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