Often, tradesmen think that they won’t have any accidents because they have many years of experience and have undertaken training to hone their skills. But no matter what steps are taken to prevent accidents from happening, some accidents are unavoidable. And when such an accident occurs, it can often result in a third party making a claim for compensation.
Public liability insurance for self-employed tradesmen deals with such compensation claims. This doesn’t just mean that your business is protected from the financial impact of having to pay compensation to a third party, although clearly that is a major benefit. Importantly, it also means that you get access to specialists who know how to handle compensation claims that can often involve fairly complex legal arguments.
This type of insurance is not a legal requirement, but in view of the fact that compensation awards can easily reach hundreds of thousands of pounds, no tradesman should consider operating without it. In any case, if you work as a sub-contractor, it’s likely that you will need to be able to provide evidence that you’re insured before a main contractor will let you on site.
What Trades Can Be Covered?
A wide range of construction sector trades can be covered, from the more common trades such as builders, carpenters, plasterers, plumbers and roofers, to more specialised, niche trades, such as tradesmen who specialise in work on historic buildings and glaziers who specialise in stained glass windows.
What Does Public Liability Insurance For Self-Employed Tradesmen Cover?
Public liability insurance for self-employed tradesman covers tradesmen against compensation claims that are made by a third party that claims the tradesman is responsible for an injury that they have sustained, or for the loss of or damage to their property.
It comes with products liability insurance which protects you if a third party claims for compensation from you because they believe that a defect in a product you have sold or supplied has resulted in them being injured, or their property being lost or damaged.
It should also come with a financial loss cover extension which covers you against claims made by third parties for purely economic losses that they have incurred – for instance, where they have incurred additional hiring charges as a result of something that you’ve done.
- A Bristol-based plumber installed a new bathroom in an upstairs flat, but the workmanship was defective and the flat below was flooded. The owner of the flat below claimed for their flat to be redecorated, as well as the cost of alternative accommodation while the remedial work was carried out. The claim cost over £12,000 by the time it had been finalised.
- A kitchen fitter installed a kitchen in Telford but a cabinet that he had fitted to the kitchen wall came loose. It fell onto someone, causing them to suffer a broken arm. When the victim’s loss of wages, legal costs, and additional expenses were added to the amount of compensation awarded for the injury, the total claim settlement was in excess of £20,000.
- A carpenter fitted a banister in a private home in Basingstoke. The banister failed because it had not been adequately secured, and as a result the person who was using it fell to the bottom of the stairs and broke their back. They ended up permanently injured and confined to a wheelchair. The claim was eventually settled for £240,000.
- A flooring contractor installed a new floor in a shop. Shortly after the shop re-opened, someone slipped on the floor and fell, twisting their ankle. The claim was settled with no compensation paid because the insurers specialist claims handlers demonstrated that although the claimant had fallen on the floor that had been installed, the flooring contractor was not legally liable as the floor was not defective. Because the claim could be settled with no payment being made, this meant it would not adversely affect the future insurance.