What does public liability insurance cover?

Understanding what public liability insurance covers

Public liability insurance is designed to protect your business against claims made by a member of the public, in relation to injury or damage to their property due to an incident at your business or as a result of your business carrying out work. A 'member of the public', by this definition, is anyone not employed by your business. So, this could be a contractor, customer, supplier, or anyone else.

The type of claim you're likely to experience will vary depending on the nature of your business, but here are a few examples of public liability claims that a small businesses may experience.

Examples of public liability claims


A customer slipping on a wet floor

If you’re a beauty salon owner, a restaurateur, or a shopkeeper, you’ll be especially keen to keep your floors squeaky clean for hygiene reasons. But slippery floors bring about the risk of injury. If a customer were to slip on your floor, injuring themself, you could face legal and compensation costs if they then decided to sue you. And even if you're careful to put out signs warning people of a wet surface, you can't guarantee they'll take heed of your cautionary notice. A broken arm or leg could result in a large payout of thousands of pounds. Having public liability in this instance could potentially save your business the cost of a payout it can't afford to make.


You're laying out a new paving stones in a front garden and your client trips on one

If you're laying out a new front path and for some reason - perhaps the job isn't completely finished, or one slab is just slightly unlevel - your client trips up on it, injuring themself, you could face legal action. Having public liability cover in place can bring peace of mind as no matter how much care you take, imperfections are unavoidable - and whatsmore, you can't control acts of clumsiness (people don't always look where they're walking), but you may still be liable for the implications.


Accidentally spilling a drink on a customer and their laptop

If your cafe attracts lots of students or workers, and their expensive laptops, there’s plenty of opportunity for a little mistake to result in a large cost to your business.

Picture this: it's a Thursday afternoon. You've had a good morning, plenty of your regulars to make chitchat with, but otherwise fairly relaxed. All of a sudden, the post-lunch rush arrives and it's absolutely heaving with students and freelancers. You're making your way to serve a customer, steaming hot chai latte in hand. Someone steps back towards you, unaware of the expanse their giant backpack is taking up - not to mention that you are right behind it. You lurch forwards, spilling steaming hot milk and froth onto someone's brand new MacBook Pro and their forearm. It's arguably not your fault, but you're likely to be liable.

You may think the cost of replacing a laptop is pretty insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but three or four mistakes down the line and it can quickly add up! Not to mention the implications of a burnt arm. In this particular instance, public liability cover could help you cover the costs of replacing the laptop as well as any costs associated with the injured arm.

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