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Public liability insurance for builders

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Public Liability Insurance for Builders 

What does public liability insurance cover for builders

Accidents can happen anywhere, but the construction industry can be particularly hazardous, which means it would be a wise idea to invest in builder’s public liability insurance if you’re a self-employed builder or you own a building company. 

Not only can this type of insurance policy protect you from the risk of compensation payouts if a member of the public is injured on your building site and you’re held liable for the accident, but the best policies can also cover the cost of legal fees if you’re taken to court. 

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Surely I don’t need builders’ public liability insurance if my construction sites aren’t accessible to members of the public? 

If you’re a builder you will probably take steps to ensure that random passersby aren’t able to gain access to your building sites while construction work is taking place. However, public liability insurance for builders has a fairly broad definition of ‘public’ – couriers and delivery people, other tradespeople that aren’t your own subcontractors, and even people in neighbouring properties are all classed as members of the public for insurance liability purposes, so even if people on the street can’t access your building site it’s still worth investing in this type of insurance policy. 

In addition, even if someone trespasses on your building site they may still try to sue you for compensation if they are injured while on site, even if they weren’t supposed to be there in the first place. 

Am I legally obliged to take out this type of insurance for my building company though? 

No, although it’s a wise investment that can protect your business, public liability insurance for builders isn’t a legal requirement in the UK. Builders’ public liability insurance for the self-employed is also recommended.

Is it true my customers can insist I have builders’ public liability insurance? 

Yes, customers may very well insist that you have public liability insurance in place and could refuse to work with you if you don’t have the right type of coverage. 

In fact, if you do building work for corporate clients, charities or government agencies there’s a good chance this type of insurance will be a contractual obligation, even though it isn’t a legal one. 

Many homeowners will ask to see your public liability insurance certificate before they will allow you to carry out construction work on their home. 

What level of coverage will customers insist on? 

If you carry out building work for corporate customers, charities or government agencies they will usually insist that you have a minimum of £5 million of public liability insurance coverage in place. 

What types of risks does public liability insurance actually insure my construction business against? 

Public liability insurance is designed to protect your construction business from many kinds of “insurable events”.  These are typically accidents that involve members of the public and happen due to your business activities. 

Typically,l insurable events that will be covered by your public liability insurance policy include: 

  • A member of the public who gets injured on your building site, or as a result of the construction work on site 
  • A member of the public whose valuables are damaged or destroyed during your building work 
  • Damage to someone’s car or property that is a direct result of your building work 

What sorts of policy exclusions are likely to apply when I take out this type of insurance policy? 

Public liability insurance policies are only designed to protect you from liability claims brought by members of the public, so one of the main exclusions will be injuries suffered by your own employees or subcontractors.  

You’ll need a separate employers’ liability insurance policy for those types of claims, and if you do employ staff that particular type of insurance is legally required. 

Do I have to pay an excess when I claim on my builders’ insurance? 

Yes, as with most types of insurance in the UK, if you claim on your builders’ public liability insurance you’ll have to pay an insurance excess before the insurance provider will pay out for the remainder of the claim. 

The excess can vary from one public liability insurance provider to the next, so it’s worth double-checking this before you sign up for the policy. 

Is this type of policy suitable for sole traders? 

Yes, absolutely. Whether you’re a self-employed builder who only works with residential properties, or you own a bigger building company that carries out building work for large corporate customers, you can and should take out builders’ liability insurance. 

It probably goes without saying that your premium may well be a little higher if you’re insuring a bigger building company, and it might also be a good idea to consider opting for higher coverage if you’re insuring a bigger business. 

How much does public liability insurance cost for a builder? 

How long is a piece of string? 

There’s really no simple way to estimate how much you might have to pay, unfortunately, because the insurance premium calculation will take into account a wide range of different risk factors, and each insurance provider will also give those risk factors a slightly different weighting. 

The size of your construction business, your location, how long you’ve been trading, the type of building work you do and the level of coverage you want to take can all influence your premium. 

The best way to get a more accurate estimate of the cost of PLI for builders is to compare quotes from a range of different insurance companies, and then go with the provider that offers the best policy at the cheapest price.  

Will this type of insurance cover damage to my own equipment and machinery? 

No, this type of policy is specifically intended to protect your construction business from liability claims you might face from members of the public, which means it won’t cover the cost of repairing damage to your own equipment or machinery. 

You can take out tool cover to protect your own equipment though, and some providers will allow you to bundle tool cover with your PLI policy. 

Does builders’ public liability insurance cover me if my van is involved in an accident? 

That will likely depend on how the accident occurred, but in most cases, if your van is involved in an accident then it would be your van insurance policy that would cover the cost, rather than your builders’ public liability insurance.