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While employees are usually able to depend on their employer’s insurance to cover them if something goes wrong, if you’re a self-employed contractor you would be expected to cover any legal costs and compensation pay-outs yourself if a member of the public was injured or their property was damaged and the courts determined that the incident happened due to some sort of negligence on your part.

Of course, building contractors and security contractors may well have a higher risk of liability claims than IT contractors, given the nature of what they do, but the fact remains that any self-employed contractor would have to cover the costs themselves if they were sued by a member of the public and they didn’t have suitable insurance in place at the time of the incident.

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Is contractors insurance mandatory in the UK?

No, contractor insurance is a type of public liability insurance, and as such it isn’t a legal requirement in the UK.

However, depending on what type of clients or customers you work with, it is possible it might be mandatory from a contractual perspective even though it’s not required by law.

For instance, if you’re an IT contractor and you specialise in serving large multinational companies it’s possible your contractor’s agreement with those companies might include a clause that requires you to take out contractors insurance before you visit their offices.

However, even if your clients don’t insist that you have contractors insurance it’s still worth considering, because this type of policy can offer contractors protection against potentially very costly liability claims in exchange for a relatively cheap premium.

OK, so what does contractors insurance insure me against?

Contractor insurance can cover you if you’re sued by a member of the public because you either caused them bodily harm or you damaged their property.

For instance, if a member of the public tripped over cabling while an IT contractor was installing new computing equipment then a contractor insurance policy could cover the contractor if that individual decided to sue them for damages.

Or if a visitor to a building site was injured by a building contractor’s construction equipment then this type of policy could protect that contractor against any resulting liability claims.

How much does contractor insurance cost?

There are many different types of contractors, and some of them are involved in riskier work than others. For instance, building contractors likely face a higher risk of public liability claims than IT contractors, so the type of contracting you do will have a big impact on the cost of your contractors insurance.

A range of other variables will also be used to calculate your contractors insurance premium, many of which are specific to you (your location and the crime rate in your area, the amount you’d like to be covered for, whether or not you’ve claimed on a public liability insurance policy in the past) so it’s difficult to provide any sort of meaningful figure without comparing real quotes.

The best plan is to use Quotezone.co.uk’s insurance comparison service to compare contractors insurance quotes from a range of different providers, and then go with the one that offers the best policy at the most competitive price.

What add-ons can I bundle with my contractors insurance?

Contractors liability insurance is the core element of any contractor insurance policy, but it is possible to bundle other optional add-ons with your PLI cover in order to ensure you have well-rounded protection.

Some of the add-ons you can bundle with your liability cover include:

  • Product liability insurance: If you sell products alongside your services you could be held liable if one of those products is damaged or defective, and the defect results in some form of loss for the customer. Product liability insurance can help you cover the resulting legal expenses and compensation pay-outs in these cases.
  • Professional indemnity insurance: This add-on covers you if you are held liable because advice or expertise you provided resulted in some kind of loss for your customer.
  • Employers’ liability insurance: If you are a self-employed contractor and you always work alone you might not need this type of add-on, but if you do employ other people then you’re legally obliged to have employers’ liability insurance in place.