Public liability insurance

Compare public liability insurance quotes and get the right cover for your business

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What's public liability insurance?

Public liability insurance is a type of business insurance. It can help cover the cost of paying compensation if a member of the public claims against your business for:

  • Personal injury
  • Damage to their property in your workplace
  • Injury or damage caused during the day-to-day running of your business

You’re covered whether you’re at your premises or working off-site.

Public liability insurance isn’t a legal requirement (unlike employer’s liability insurance), but many business consider it an essential.

Other businesses or clients you work with might also ask that you have it.

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What's covered

  • Repairs – including the cost of labour and materials
  • Medical fees – including the cost of calling out an ambulance, treatment and a stay in hospital for the claimant
  • Personal compensation – including loss of earnings and future loss of earnings
  • Legal costs – including the cost of defending you against a claim and the claimants' legal costs if you're found to be at fault

What’s not

  • Accidents that happen to you or damage to your own property – protection for yourself or your premises is usually covered under a general business insurance policy instead
  • Accidents that affect your employees or their possessions – if you employ anyone, you're legally required to have employers’ liability insurance. It's there to cover anything that might happen to your employees

How much does public liability cover cost?

The cost of a public liability policy depends on the size and type of your business, and how risky the work is.

The type of business you run, and how much risk you pose to the general public make a difference. You’ll usually pay more if you have a manual-labour business, rather than a clerical one, or if you’ve made any previous claims.

Other considerations when you purchase public liability insurance

As with most types of insurance, if you claim on your public liability insurance policy you’ll need to pay an excess. 

You can select your excess when you compare quotes. The higher your excess, the lower your premiums might be. But you do need to be able to pay the excess you've chosen if you do need to make a claim.

You also need to know that your public liability insurance will only pay out if you’re found to be legally responsible for paying compensation and claim costs.

How much public liability cover will I need?

It depends on the risks involved with your business. If it’s high risk, or you’re involved with government contracts, you might want to look towards the higher-end – around £10 million.

Minimum cover levels start at around £2 million, which is more suitable for smaller businesses with less contact with the public.

Why might I need public liability insurance?

It’s not a legal requirement. But if your work involves government or council contracts, they might ask for proof of cover and/or insist that you have a certain level of cover to work with you.

And even for smaller businesses, it’s common for your customers to ask to see proof of your public liability insurance, for example before you begin working on their house if you’re a builder. 

Other examples of businesses that might want to consider public liability insurance are:


If your company is contracted to clean an office, and a member of the public’s property is accidentally damaged.


Your business is in charge of providing a wedding buffet, and a guest claims they have food poisoning.

Window cleaners

A bucket of water tips over a few stories above a busy street, damaging a passer-by’s clothes and phone.


Public liability cover can be useful if scaffolding collapses and damages a vehicle.


You’re just about to put a ‘wet floor’ sign up when an unsuspecting member of the public slips and injures themselves.


While you have to comply with regulatory rules to prevent electrical shocks and fire, accidents can still happen.


A client is visiting your workshop and trips over a stray cable.

Frequently asked questions

You can run a no obligation quote with us. Our partner Simply Business will then show you your options for cover, so you can easily compare and choose what’s right for you. 

Make sure you consider what types of business insurance you need – options include public liability, public indemnity and employer’s liability insurance (a legal requirement for those who have employees) and will depend on what type of business you're running.

No, public liability insurance is not compulsory. But it’s a good idea to consider taking it out if you run a business, as the costs of claims can be expensive.

Legally, it’s not a must. But if you’re self-employed, and your business interacts with the general public a lot, you should consider it.

Compensation claims can easily run into the thousands, and not being able to pay these yourself could run your business into the ground.

Other guides and topics

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