Shopping for insurance as a contractor can be time-consuming, taking precious hours away from your actual work. Comparison websites don’t always show the best deals on offer (although they do a great job of marketing it that way) and can actually add to your confusion even more.

Oftentimes, the deciding factor when taking out cover is, of course, price. When it comes to your crucial business insurances like Public Liability, the cheapest option may not cover you entirely though.

Do I really need PL insurance?

While it’s not illegal to work without it, many clients will include in their contract that you must have PL insurance in place. This is because having some form of PL cover is generally regarded as contractor best practice. You can read more about Public Liability here.

Public Liability (PL) insurance covers the cost of a claim made by someone who has suffered injury or property damage as a result of work you’ve done. This can be made by a client or a member of the public. It covers the ‘physical’ damage caused by a mistake.

An obvious example of when PL insurance would come into effect is if you’re hot desking and someone trips over your laptop bag, causing them to break their arm and their own laptop in the fall.

You could also be subject to a claim after a construction job has been completed, like if a skylight pane falls out and injures a client. Liability for this, of course, would be more subjective. Whether you’re at fault as the contractor can depend on the amount of time passed and how the client’s maintained the work done, but proving liability can still result in a costly trial.

All contractors should consider having a minimum amount of PL cover, but those working in manual professions especially - like construction, the energy sector, and any kind of forensic science - will almost certainly need it. The amount of PL insurance you need will most likely be stated as part of the client contract.

How do I work out how much PL cover I need?

If you’re not going for the cheapest insurance, how do you choose your cover?

You should start by assessing exactly how much protection you need from your PL insurance. Insurance advisers can help you finalise your decision, but it’s important you have some idea of the level of cover you need. All sorts of variables could affect this: whether you work in the public or private sector, whether your client is national or local, and to what extent you work from home. Your client will usually specify a limit though depending on the job.

Let’s take a look at some examples of when PL cover would be useful:

You make a pot of coffee on your electric hob when your client arrives and forget to turn it off. The client places their laptop on the hob sometime later while you take a call, only realising from the smell of burning plastic that the damage has been done. Thousands of pounds worth of computer equipment are now ruined beyond repair and while it wasn’t directly your fault, you could still well be liable.

A van driver is carrying a heavy Amazon order into your home when they trip on the cracked front step you’ve been meaning to fix for 6 months. They fall and fracture their wrist, meaning they can’t work for at least 6 weeks while it heals. They claim on your PL for loss of income caused by your lack of workplace maintenance - i.e. your home.

How much would it cost you to replace hardware or compensate an injury and consequential loss of work? Would your business be able to afford the legal fees and time away from earning without PL insurance? If not, it’s better to be safe – and remember, it’s always better to over-insure.

What can Larsen Howie offer me?

Here at Larsen Howie, we offer PL insurance for a range of professions including (but not limited to) IT and technology contractors, design and construction contractors, energy sector contractors, and forensic science contractors. Our premiums start at just £44 for PL - some of the most competitive on the market – and we offer the option to reduce your excess from £500 to £0 for a nominal additional fee.

You can also choose to extend the cover to Employers' Liability from just £84 (PL & EL), which is the only insurance you’re legally obligated to hold if you have one or more employees.

Our Public (& Employers) Liability insurance covers the below as standard across all trades:

  • Damages
  • Defence costs
  • Claimant costs and expenses
  • Data Protection Act 1998 (Section 13) damages
  • Data Protection Act 1998 (Section 13) defence costs
  • Data Protection Act 1998 (Section 13) claimant costs and expenses
  • Pollution liability damages
  • Pollution liability defence costs
  • Pollution liability claimant costs and expenses
  • Employers liability damages (extended cover only)
  • Employers liability defence costs (extended cover only)
  • Employers liability claimant costs and expenses (extended cover only)
  • Employers liability unsatisfied court judgments (extended cover only)

We know that insurance is your peace of mind, so we have our policies underwritten by some of the world’s largest insurers to provide you with the most thorough, robust business protection available. You can read more about our PL cover here or you can explore our Knowledge Hub further here.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to call on 01163 800 400 or email us – we’d be happy to help.

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