A career in plumbing can be incredibly rewarding, but just like any other job, the trade has its perils. If you have your own plumbing business, you may already know that you need comprehensive plumbers insurance to protect it against certain risks. Whether you are a plumber, heating engineer, bathroom installer or pipe fitter, there are some covers which you may need legally. Moreover, you will want to get insurance anyway, because this is a good way to protect your business from various dangers.
Do self-employed plumbers need insurance?
The short answer is yes – if you’re a self-employed plumber, you will definitely need insurance in order to protect yourself against potential accidents. And because your trade is highly specialised, it’s important to make sure you get insurance that’s specifically tailored to the needs of your trade by a company that specialises in the subject. However, it’s the types of insurance covers that you’ll need that will vary from individual to individual.
All self-employed plumbers will definitely need public liability insurance, which acts as the backbone of your plumber’s insurance policy. But there are other covers to consider as well. For instance, if you often work on site, you may want to consider contractor’s all risks insurance, which covers works in progress. If you have any employees, you’ll need to consider employer’s liability, which is a legal requirement if you employ any staff. And you may also want to consider tools and equipment insurance, to make sure your tools are covered in the event of theft, and even legal expenses insurance, which will cover things like VAT and tax investigations, as well as employment disputes. But with all that said and done, you’re probably still wondering – why exactly do you need insurance in the first place?
Why do you need insurance for your plumbing business?
As a plumber, you need specialist insurance protection whether you are self-employed or running your own business. The policy you take out needs to offer a foundation of essential covers, as well as other coverage options that will provide you with the right type of comprehensive protection you need for your business.
In addition, if you have employees, you will need to purchase employers’ liability insurance. This is an optional cover that can be added to a public liability insurance policy for plumbers, but it’s also a legal requirement to have if you have anybody working for you, including direct employees and subcontractors, unless you are a sole trader and the employees are close members of your family.
What cover does plumber’s insurance provide?
When you take out plumbers business insurance with Tradesman Saver, you will get public liability insurance, products liability insurance and legal expenses cover, as well as cover for financial loss. You can also get extra cover for your contract works, tools, business and office equipment, as well as employer’s liability insurance, if this applies to you.
Public liability insurance
Even though public liability insurance is not a legal requirement for plumbers, it is a good idea to have it because it offers you protection against any financial liabilities that you may face as a consequence of the work you provide for your clients.
For example, if there is a pipe leaking after you have completed a job and the building is damaged as a consequence, your insurance policy would cover the agreed amount of compensation to your client. As a plumber, you will know that the damage caused by a leaking pipe can be extensive.
One customer recently caused damage to a clients property which cost more than £150,000 to rectify when a faulty pipe fitting leaked while the property was unoccupied over the weekend. There was extensive damage to the structure of the building, interior decorations and two floors below. Their policy came to the rescue and covered the cost of the repairs together with the legal fees involved in defending the claim.
Moreover, this type of insurance offers you protection if a member of the public were to be injured as a result of your work. This means that the policy will cover any legal costs, as well as compensation payments that may arise in this situation.
Products liability insurance
Products liability insurance is included as standard as part of the Tradesman Saver package. This will provide protection in the event that a product you sell, supply or install causes injury or damage as a result of a fault.
For example, if you install a faulty radiator which leaks and damages a customers property, the customer can hold you liable for the damage. Providing the leak was caused by a fault with the radiator (rather than a fault with the installation), your products liability insurance will meet any claims for compensation.
In the majority of instances, we will pass the claim for the faulty product back to the manufacturer of the product but, as the plumber who installed the product, the claim will first be made against you and therefore products liability insurance is very important. Many plumbers insurance providers only provide cover for public liability and do not offer products liability insurance, so make sure you have this vital cover.
Cover is available from £1,000,000 to £5,000,000 with higher limits available on request.
Financial loss insurance
Financial loss insurance is very important for a plumber. This cover protects you in the event that a customer makes a claim for financial loss which has not been caused by injury or property damage.
For example, if a customer is unable to work as a result of an injury caused by you, this financial loss would be included under your public liability insurance. BUT, if a customer were due to open their new shop on a certain date and were forced to delay the opening due to you not installing their new central heating system in time, they may have a valid claim against you for any financial losses they have suffered.
Cover is available from £10,000 to £50,000 with higher limits available on request.
Employer’s liability insurance
Unlike public liability insurance, you are required by law to have employer’s liability insurance if you have one or more employees. According to the law, you need to have at least £5 million of employer’s liability insurance, and you can be fined up to £2,500 if you do not have the correct cover in place. The Tradesman Saver policy provides £10 million cover for employer’s liability insurance.
Even if you only use temporary employees or labour only subcontractors, you will still need employer’s liability insurance as these staff will be acting under your instruction and could suffer an injury and claim compensation as a result.
The only exception is for sole traders who only employ close family members, there is no legal requirement for employer’s liability insurance but it is advisable to have this cover for your added protection.
Tools & equipment insurance
An entire range of extra covers is available under a plumber’s insurance policy, so you can choose to tailor your policy to suit your needs.
For example, you could take out insurance cover for all your tools, whether they’re hand or power ones. If you have this type of policy, you will generally get protection for all your tools if they are stolen or damaged. Your tools will be covered on an “all risks” basis and will include cover for theft from site or from an unattended vehicle (although a higher excess may apply).
Business contents insurance
Besides getting cover for your work tools, you may also want protection for all your office equipment such as computers, desks and any other office furniture you purchase for your business. This is covered under business contents insurance, but please note, it only offers cover for office equipment stored at your home premises, and not for office equipment stored at another premises.
Contract works insurance
What would you do if the new bathroom you were installing were to be damaged by fire halfway through completion? The fire was an accident and you cannot expect for your client to pay for the bathroom to be installed again. On the other hand, you would not want to foot the bill either. In this example, contract works insurance would be your saviour.
Contract works insurance will cover the cost of repairing or replacing the property should it be damaged before it’s practical completion. Please note that this cover will only provide insurance for the contract you are working on, not for the existing property. So, if you were installing a bathroom in a house, the contract works insurance will cover the bathroom being installed but the homeowner should still have insurance cover for the property itself. There would also be cover for your own plant, tools and equipment and any hired in plant too.