Public liability vs. employers' liability

What's the difference between public liability and employers' liability insurance?

Both public liability and employers' liability insurance cover claims of accidental injury and property damage, but the difference between these two covers lies in who is making the claim.

Public liability insurance covers claims made against you by a third party, meaning any member of the public, such as a client, customer, courier or complete stranger who interacts with your business. Employers' liability insurance covers injury or illness claims made against you by an employee as a result of your business.

Another key difference is that employers' liability is a legal requirement in the UK for any business that employs people, while public liability is not a legal requirement. Despite this, many businesses consider public liability a necessity to protect them from large compensation costs and legal fees if a claim was made against them.

What does public liability insurance cover?

Public liability insurance provides cover for legal and compensation costs relating to any claim made against your business due to injury or property damage inflicted on a non-employee.

If your business causes an injury or property damage to a member of the public – that includes clients, suppliers, contractors or anybody else not employed by you – PL will cover you for the resulting legal and compensation costs.

An example of a public liability claim would be: a customer is walking through your shop and trips on a loose wire that’s on the floor, breaking their arm.

What does employers' liability cover?

Employers' liability insurance covers the legal and compensation costs associated with a claim made by an employee.

If an employee suffers an injury at work, or becomes ill as a result of your business, and they want to claim compensation, employers' liability insurance would cover this. The types of claims it covers varies, but can includes accidental slips and trips; injuries as a result of insufficient training and even illness due to stress.

An employers' liability insurance claim example could be: an employee is walking back to their desk and trips over a loose piece of carpet, breaking their arm.

Are you legally required to have both employers' liability and public liability cover?

If you have employees, regardless of if they're full-time, part-time, temporary, contracting, doing an apprenticeship or even volunteering, employers' liability insurance is a legal requirement in the UK. This makes it a must-have cover for most businesses.

Public liability insurance isn't a legal requirement in the UK. However, this doesn't mean businesses don't need it. Without adequate cover, the unexpected legal and compensation costs associated with a claim (e.g. someone suing your business for injury or property damage), could bankrupt a business.

Some of your clients or customers may also require you to have public liability insurance in order to work with them.

To learn more, find out if your business needs public liability cover or if it requires employers' liability insurance.

Can I buy public liability and employers' liability insurance together?

Yes, if you find you need both public liability and employers' liability insurance, you can buy both covers at the same time under one policy. Simply click ‘Start your quote’, select your industry and follow the steps to add the level of cover you need.

Find more information

Our insurance 101 guides break down what each type of cover is, what they cover and the types of businesses that may need them in more detail.