What insurance do I need as a self-employed handyman?

A self-employed handyman on a job filling a wall.

Self-employed tradesmen are typically in high demand. Plumbers, electricians and builders immediately spring to mind, but being a handyman will always be advantageous because you are able to turn your hand to almost any task, large or small.

Word-of-mouth is valuable currency as a handyman, which means doing a great job for your customers can significantly reduce your marketing costs.

The key to ensuring continued success as a handyman is to be professional so that you instill trust from your customers. Professionalism doesn’t just mean being polite when meeting customers and then providing a clear written quote for them. It also means being prepared for the unexpected by ensuring you are covered, which in-turn provides cover for your customers should there be a mishap. That’s where handyman insurance comes in.

Handyman public liability (PL) insurance

As a handyman you will interact with the general public almost daily, as you fix, build, and maintain various aspects of your customers’ homes. As such, you should ensure you hold handyman public liability insurance.

Although it is not a legal requirement, it will provide cover for you if a claim is made against you for damage to a customer's property whilst working on a job for them. It will also cover you if you are alleged to have caused an accident such as a member of the public (including your client) tripping over your materials and injuring themselves in the process.

Insurance for tools and trade materials

Your tools of the trade are arguably your most important resource, yet they can be taken for granted. Individual tools can be expensive, and many tradesmen build up their toolkit over years of work.

Ask yourself, how would you cope if your tools were stolen? Would you be in a financial position to replace them straight away?

With the rising cost of living, and the increasing cost of trade materials and products, replacing stolen goods and trade materials could be expensive.

Cover you for lost or damaged tools and trade materials, for which you are responsible, is available when public liability insurance is purchased. It cannot be purchased in isolation. We offer five levels of cover from £1,000 up to £5,000.

Occupational personal accident insurance

How would you cope financially if an injury or illness prevented you from working? Personal accident insurance will provide cover if you suffer from an injury or illness and the policy has the ability to be extended to incorporate insurance for business and holiday travel worldwide in any one year for you and your family.

Note: read the small print as personal accident policies tend not to cover Coronavirus (Covid-19).

Professional indemnity (PI) insurance

Sometimes referred to as professional liability insurance, PI cover offers cover if a customer is unhappy with your work. It will cover legal costs and expenses in defending a negligence claim as well as compensation due to your customer for loss or damages.

An example could be that you misinterpret a design or misread measurements in a design, or use substandard materials to those recommended, which results in a project not being fit for purpose and needing to be redone at extra cost.

Employers’ Liability (EL) insurance

Many handymen work for themselves and work alone, but there are instances when they look to take on a junior member of staff to help ease the workload and to pass on their skills to the next generation.

If you employ staff, you are responsible for their health and safety while they are at work. Employers’ Liability insurance is a compulsory insurance requirement under the Employers Liability Act (1969) and is a criminal offence not to carry cover if you employ staff.

EL cover will enable you to meet the cost of compensation for injuries or disease suffered by your employees as a result of their work for you. Cover can include medical costs, legal costs, and loss of income, as well as other damages.

Your employee could fall from a ladder, or they could work with drills for hours each day, resulting in them suffering a repetitive strain injury, both of which could result in a compensation claim.

Directors & officers (D&O) insurance

Many self-employed tradesmen are sole traders and find that public liability insurance and professional indemnity insurance are sufficient to cover them and their businesses. However, directors and officers insurance will become relevant if you opt to register your business as a limited company. The policy will cover the costs of defending you as a director against allegations of wrongful acts or mismanagement, disqualification as a director, and investigations.

If a customer makes an unsuccessful claim against your limited company, they are entitled to claim against you (the director) personally, which could put your personal assets at risk if you don’t hold D&O insurance.

How much does handyman insurance cost?

The cost of handyman insurance depends on a number of factors, including the size of your business and the types of cover you might need. At Markel, we offer policies starting from £159* a year. To find out how much you can expect to pay, simply get a quick online quote today.

* Price based on a handyman requiring £1 million public liability insurance cover.

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