Public Liability Insurance – what is it and who needs it?

As a fleet business, the risk of causing accidental damage to someone or their property is very high. Public liability insurance isn’t a legal requirement in the UK, but it is advised to have it to protect your business interests. There are fleet businesses at a much higher risk than others due to working at height or with large machinery. Taking out scaffolding public liability insurance or roofer’s public liability insurance should be the highest priority for these particular businesses due to the high risk involved in their line of work. Without this level of cover, you could end up bankrupt from potential legal and medical fees should the worst happen.

Is public liability insurance mandatory?

In the UK, public liability insurance is not required by law, although employer’s liability insurance is a legal requirement for businesses. Getting public liability insurance in addition to this is highly beneficial as it will cover you for compensation costs, repairs, loss of income, medical fees and legal expenses should one of your drivers injure someone or damage their property. Without it, you could end up in serious financial trouble. For example, you’re a scaffolder, and something falls and crushes someone’s car. Without scaffolding public liability insurance, the person could take your company to court, and you’d have to pay out of your own pocket. This isn’t an ideal situation which is why it is a good idea to take out a public liability insurance policy to keep your business budget secure.

How will it benefit my business?


Taking all necessary precautions presents you as a business that cares about health and safety and takes responsibility for creating a safe working environment for all. Imagine your customers getting wind of an unresolved legal dispute due to you damaging a customer’s property. It certainly wouldn’t look good for your reputation as a business, so it’s always better to be proactive rather than reactive.


Taking out public liability cover will not only give you peace of mind as a business owner, but it will keep your company secure from bankruptcy in case of huge medical and legal expenses as the result of an incident. You don’t want to risk these costs having to come out of your own pocket, so getting the correct cover is essential.


Trade bodies and associations for your industry sector will usually have guidelines for the level of insurance cover they require for membership. It is crucial to check that you meet industry standards in order to join or continue membership with these organisations.

What are my cover options?

How much coverage you want will depend on the size of your business and the nature of your work. The standard cover for public liability insurance ranges from £1 million to £10 million, with the choice being down to you. You can get cheaper premiums if you opt for less coverage, but a lower level of protection could leave you with a large bill. For a small business, the amount of cover offered by insurance companies could seem extremely high. But, if a third party were to make a claim against your business, the costs could soon mount up, and you don’t want to have to foot the bill yourself.

How can I check I have the right cover?

If you’re unsure, you can check the level of cover you need by referencing the guidelines your local authority advises. Alternatively, if there’s a trade body or association for your particular industry sector, they may have guidelines in place for how much public liability cover you are expected to have. This way, you can be sure you’re in keeping with the same amount of cover as other businesses within your trade.

What level of cover should I have?

If your business is high-risk, then you’ll need a higher level of cover. High-risk means if your work involves potentially dangerous materials or equipment and if you are in frequent contact with members of the public. An example would be an HGV delivery fleet or a roofing company working at height with dangerous machinery.

If you own a flower delivery fleet, for example, then you probably need a lower level of cover than a roofing company working at height with the risk of objects falling and causing potential damage being a lot higher. Roofers public liability insurance is a must as an object could fall and land on someone or their property, causing severe injury and damage.

Can I save on cost?

Combining multiple layers of cover under one policy can often help make some savings on your insurance premiums. For example, you could add product liability to your public liability cover if you are a delivery fleet for the general public. Most commercial vehicle insurance companies will offer multiple options of cover on one policy for businesses and this may considerably lower the overall cost for you.

Further reducing the level of risk posed to your business can also lower premiums. You could implement measures such as CCTV to keep a business property secure or schedule regular health and safety staff training to reduce the risk of accident and injury.

It is important to check with your insurance provider what you are and are not covered for before you commit because every policy is different. Your policy can be tailored to your business and the potential risks specific to your line of work. It is always best to cover all the risks your business presents so that you are appropriately covered. If you feel you are lacking cover in any areas, it is essential that you flag this up and make the necessary changes to your policy as soon as possible.

These six considerations should help serve as a helpful guide to public liability insurance. If you’re looking for business insurance for your fleet, please do not hesitate to get in touch today. Give us a call on 0333 577 0331 or contact us.

What our clients say

I recently started up my new company and had no hesitation at all to call Avis for my insurance.  Michael Ward, Bridge Transport

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