What is public liability insurance?

What is public liability insurance?

Public liability insurance (often referred to as PL insurance) covers the legal costs and expenses incurred in your defence, as well as any damages and costs that may be awarded, if you are alleged to have injured another person (who is not one of your employees) or damaged their property whilst going about your business.

In our increasingly litigious society, public liability insurance is an absolute necessity for freelancers, businesses and organisations (including charitable bodies and social organisations) that come into contact with clients or members of the public.

That's because there are a large number of 'wrongful acts' that can lead to a claim being made against you, ranging from a visitor to your premises tripping on a rug to damage you cause to third party property.

Naturally, these may sound like trivial acts; but the truth is that even mild bruising caused by slips, trips and falls can lead to a 'soft tissue injury' compensation claim. Depending on the severity, this could cost around £2,000, plus legal fees that can typically add another £5,000 to your costs; unless of course you have the right public liability insurance in place.

What sort of incidents lead to public liability insurance claims?

Many events can give rise to a public liability claim, though there are, broadly speaking, three main types of claim. The most common occurs when a visitor to your premises has hurt themselves, usually by slipping or tripping, and they believe that your negligence, rather than carelessness on their part, was the direct cause of their accident. If they can prove their case, and the injury causes loss of earnings or even permanent disability, the claim could potentially cost tens or even hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Public liability claims also commonly arise when a visitor's property is lost or damaged while on your premises. This may occur if an expensive device they have brought with them (such as a laptop or smartphone) is knocked onto a stone floor, or a cup of tea is spilt over it, by an employee or volunteer.

Public liability insurance protects you against unexpected events

There are many reasons why some organisations choose to do without public liability insurance, but they mainly stem from the belief that 'it will never happen to us.' Unfortunately, most claims arise from events like water leaks that lead to slips, or accidental acts, such as an employee causing damage or injury to someone else's property. These are often unexpected and can't always be prevented.

With so many ways for public liability claims to arise - not to mention such a wealth of companies encouraging often frivolous claims to be made – every business or organisation should give serious consideration to arranging public liability insurance.

There is also a misconception that public liability insurance is expensive; in actual fact, it is one of the least costly insurance covers available to organisations. We offer cover from as little as £5 a month.

How can you protect against public liability claims?

As a specialist insurer for over 20 years, we have an unrivalled understanding of the risks that can lead to public liability claims. We've produced numerous guides to help professionals and charities protect themselves effectively – and having a risk management plan in place is an invaluable way to demonstrate that you have exercised 'reasonable care' to prevent injury, damage or other losses from arising.

Yet should a claim be made, insuring with Markel will mean we are also there to manage it on your behalf from the outset: with timely and expert assistance from our highly trained claims team.

We offer specialist cover for professionals, business and charities from as little as £5 a month – get an online quote now, or call 0800 640 6600 for help arranging your policy.

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