Plant hire insurance explained

An excavator on a building site.

If you’ve leased an item of plant machinery, you’re responsible for paying ongoing hire charges, even if the equipment has been damaged or stolen so it cannot be used.

Plant hire insurance is designed to cover the costs of ongoing plant hire charges you incur while the equipment is replaced or repaired, or to replace your own plant machinery if it is stolen or damaged.

Cover is typically available as part of a broader insurance package or can be available for individual items, from small portable tools such as compactors, air compressors and power tools, up to larger equipment such as cement mixers, generators, cherry pickers, and mini-diggers.

Do I need insurance for plant hire?

If you’re building extensions, laying drainage pipes, or landscaping gardens, you’ll likely operate plant machinery. Millions of pounds of plant machinery is stolen from building sites every year. So, it’s vital to ensure your plant is insured, so if you do experience plant theft you’re not out of action for too long and your business operations experience only minimal disruption.

Vandalism is a significant problem, as are the elements and the everyday hazards of a construction site. Each of which can cause significant damage either accidentally or maliciously.

If you have hired in plant machinery, you’ll typically sign an agreement saying you are responsible for it while the equipment is under your supervision and for the length of the contract.

If the plant equipment you’ve leased is damaged or stolen, you’ll be legally liable to replace the product(s), which could be very expensive. Therefore, whether you’ve hired in plant machinery or have your own plant equipment, it’s vital to ensure you are insured.

What does plant insurance cover?

The policy can be tailored to ‘hired in plant insurance’, ‘own plant insurance’, or both if required, to cover your plant machinery from malicious damage, fire, accidental damage, flood and water damage, storm damage, and theft. This typically includes while the equipment is on-site and while the plant is in transit to and from a construction site.

The policy will cover the expense of ongoing hire charges until the equipment is replace or repaired.

What does plant insurance cost?

Plant insurance policy premiums can vary in cost depending on what cover you need and how secure your building site is. In many cases you can help reduce the cost through: • Installing extra security for your equipment, such as CCTV and manned guarding. • Keeping your plant equipment under cover to protect it from weather damage.

Some plant hire firms will offer insurance for their equipment, but you need to be aware that this can be restrictive (for example, it could exclude cover for accidental damage) and provide less cover than a plant hire insurance policy.

Also, purchasing an annual plant hire policy can work out cheaper than taking out separate ad-hoc ‘hired in plant insurance’ every time you need to lease equipment.

What do you need to consider when choosing plant insurance?

As with most insurance policies you will need to check that everything you want to protect can be covered. Many plant hire insurance policies carry an excess, that you’ll need to pay for each claim. You can reduce your annual premium by agreeing to a higher excess, but that means you’ll need to pay a larger sum if you need to make a claim.

What is not typically covered by plant insurance?

Typical exclusions to plant insurance policies include:

• Everyday wear and tear.
• Ongoing upkeep of the plant equipment.
• Damage caused by light or the atmosphere.
• Damage caused by insects or vermin.
• Corrosion, dampness, dryness, or dry rot.
• Damage caused by cleaning and maintenance, such as bleaching, dyeing, restoring, adjusting or repairing.
• The policy will not pay you more than its proportionate share, if the damage is insured by another policy.
• Damage caused by fraud or dishonest acts.
• Mechanical or electrical breakdown of the machinery, including the loss or destruction caused by a cyber incident.
• Certain aspects of damage caused by theft or attempted theft.
• Road traffic legislation.
• Component self-ignition.
• Clean-up costs from damage caused by contagious disease.

(See your policy document for the full list of exclusions or check with your insurance provider.)

How can I save money on my plant insurance?

As with many insurance policies, prevention is better than cure. If you have put security measures in place to protect your plant machinery, then you could reduce your insurance premium. Security features including trackers, key immobilisers, and CESAR registration are some of the methods you can use to protect your valuable plant equipment.

What is CESAR?

CESAR is the official Police and Home Office approved construction and agricultural equipment security and registration scheme, and was set up to provide an easy and effective way for police officers to identify all types of equipment, even with limited knowledge of plant machinery.

This enables officers to contact the registered owner at any time of the day about the location of their stolen assets. Find out more at

Why choose Markel Direct for your tradesman insurance?

We have been providing business insurance for over 25 years. As a result, we have developed an in-depth understanding of many industry sectors, including the trades and construction sector, and have written and revised our insurance policies to meet the ever-changing needs of the industry.


Business insurance from £5 a month

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