Public Liability Insurance: What is it, and do I need it?

Note that this article is for information only. Paddy Compare does not provide any legal advice relating to the purchase of any insurance product and you should speak to qualified persons before deciding on a policy for your needs.

Although public liability insurance isn’t usually a legal requirement, the nature of many businesses will bring their staff into contact with other people (the general public). Therefore, in law, a ‘duty of care’ is owed to these people. This should ensure that they, and their property, do not come to any harm as a result of your negligence.

However accidents do happen, and negligence by the business may result in damage or injury, and liability for any quantifiable loss. The cost of a claim for negligence can be substantial – thousands or millions of euros, but generally public liability insurance is available at a relatively small cost, to insure you against the risk of claims.

With the increasing number of ‘no win no fee’ lawyers, the numbers and values of claims are increasing, and some businesses don’t realise the requirement, or the importance of being covered. Some clients will insist on certain levels of cover, for example if you are cleaning for a local authority, or working in a government office, hospital or airport.

A business is not liable for every accident or damage that takes place within its property or whilst carrying out its day-to-day business. The claimant will have to prove that:

  • They were owed a duty of care by you
  • You failed to exercise that duty of care
  • They suffered a quantifiable loss as a result
  • The loss was a foreseeable result of the breach

There are hazards everywhere, but by reducing the consequence and the likelihood of these hazards occurring, you are reducing the risk, and hence contributing towards exercising your ‘duty of care’. In typical scenarios this may be by:

  • Displaying warning signs to warn of slippery surfaces or other hazard
  • Adequate training of staff
  • Security measures like CCTV, safes, locks, smoke detectors
  • Safe systems of work such as hoardings, scaffolding and welfare
  • Maintaining and regularly servicing equipment
  • Recording and communicating clearly

Public Liability cover is very specific, and it is important to be open with your insurance provider so as to purchase the correct policy. In order to limit the risk, insurance companies may place limitations on the activities you carry out, or the places in which you work, and you should carefully consider these before purchasing the policy. Your policy will probably be subject to an excess, so check that this is affordable before accepting the terms. You may need 3rd party cover, for example a photographer may need cover for damage caused to property whilst working away from their office.

Paddy Compare works with a number of public liability insurance brokers who can offer liability insurance for your specific needs. As well as our generic PL insurance form for fitness instructors, artists, car valeters, gardeners, window cleaners, painters, and arts and crafts, Paddy Compare also has specific links with insurers that provide insurance for shops, offices, pubs, tradesmen and salon owners. Whatever your insurance requirement, let Paddy Compare help you get in touch with someone who understands your insurance needs.