All You Need to Know About the Public Liability Insurance Certificate

Accidents happen.

If you run your own business, you’ll no doubt know all about employer’s liability insurance. The question is, have you heard about a public liability insurance certificate? 

What is it? Why do you need it? How do you get one? And who does it cover? 

Let’s take you through all you need to know about public liability insurance, and why business experts recommended it.

What is a public liability insurance certificate?

A public liability insurance certificate is a legal document that details your public liability insurance policy for customers, regulatory authorities, and members of the public.

At a glance it will note all the important information clients need to know about your public liability cover, without them having to sift through the many many pages that usually accompany full policy agreements.

A public liability insurance certificate will usually indicate:

  • Which company is providing the insurance cover
  • The period for which the cover is valid
  • The policy number
  • Who the cover insures in the event of a claim
  • The indemnity limit, which is the most an insurer will pay in the event you need to claim
  • A description of the business activities that are covered by the policy
  • And any exclusions to the cover, such as territorial limits (whether your cover extends beyond the boundaries of the UK, for example)

As important as it is to have public liability insurance in place, it’s equally crucial to ensure yours is valid and up to date with your current business needs.

A refresher: what is public liability insurance?

There are many types of liability insurance, and each covers a specific risk.

Any business that has regular physical contact with clients and or other members of the public, should look into getting public liability insurance. 

Accidents can and will happen and public liability insurance will make sure that you are covered in the event that they do.

Claims could be:

  • Related to the replacement or repair of any damaged property or belongings. Whether they are those of your clients, or the general public
  • Medical bills for any injuries sustained by clients or other members of the public during the course of your business activities
  • Compensation for loss of earnings and any subsequent trauma experienced by the claimant
  • Any legal fees associated with the claim

How do these scenarios play out in the real world?

Let’s give a few examples of possible scenarios.

If a client visits your business premises and falls and breaks an ankle, they could hold your business accountable for their medical expenses. They could even claim for loss of income if they aren’t able to return to work immediately.

If a member of the public’s property becomes damaged in the course of your business activities – if their car is scratched while construction is under way, for example – your business may be held responsible for covering the cost of these repairs. 

Something as simple as spilled water on a client’s laptop or mobile in a meeting could see you having to foot the bill for a replacement device. 

Similarly, should any damage, injury, or illness, such as food poisoning, result from a product produced or supplied by your business, public liability insurance will offer your business protection against any claims that follow.

Public liability insurance will go a long way to helping you cover these unforeseen costs, whether they’re compensation payments or legal fees that are incurred as a result of the claim.

How do I get proof of public liability insurance?

Once you have acquired public liability insurance, your insurer will provide you with your certificate of liability insurance.

This certificate not only serves to prove you have the relevant cover but it may in fact be called for by potential clients. 

Public liability insurance is a requirement for many professional bodies, trade associations, and local authorities, and you may find it a condition of engagement for contractors. If you’re operating as a subcontractor, the main supplier may well stipulate that you have public liability insurance in place.

So it’s fair to say that having public liability insurance could even improve your business prospects.

Once you do, it’s worth having a single, easy-to-read certificate on hand for quick reference for both you and your clients.

Is it a legal requirement to display a public liability insurance certificate?

Because public liability insurance is not legally required, there is no legal obligation to display your certificate. However, it is good business practice to do so.

How you do this is up to you. You could display a hard copy in your offices and or have an electronic copy available on your website for current and potential clients to view, for example. 

Displaying your public liability insurance certificate can go a long way to reassure potential clients that you take public health and safety seriously. Practically, it also serves to prove that, in the event of an accident, you are insured and able to cover any costs incurred.

This certificate, along with any other important documents like accreditations and trade association memberships, when made available to clients, can only bolster client confidence and advance your business in the long term.

Public liability insurance and employers liability insurance. What’s the difference?

The first and most important difference between these two types of insurance is that, while public liability insurance is not compulsory, employer’s liability insurance is required by law

Employer’s liability insurance is mandatory for any business that employs one or more people in the UK. By law, you can be fined £2,500 for every day your business is not properly insured.

Secondly, while displaying your public liability certificate is optional, making sure your employer’s liability insurance certificate is visible and easily accessible to all employees is also a matter of law. Failing to display your employer’s liability certificate can also result in hefty fines. 

Public liability insurance safeguards you from claims by clients or members of the public. In contrast, employer’s liability insurance looks after your business should there be any legal and/or compensation expenses from within the company – in other words, from one of your employees. 

This could be due to an employee falling ill or sustaining an injury during the course of any work done for your business. 

As much as a client could slip and fall in your hallways, so too can an employee. Accidents happen, all we can do is be as prepared as possible when they do.

In short, employers liability insurance is for you and your employees, and public liability insurance is for you and the wider public.

How much public liability insurance do you need?

Because all businesses are different, so too are their needs in terms of insurance.

If you work from home for example, you will usually require less coverage than a business that has regular and prolonged face to face dealings with the public. 

On the other hand, if your business sees a lot of public interaction, such as restaurants or construction companies, more extensive coverage is usually recommended. Not only is there more foot traffic, but there are also more opportunities for injury on a busy site than there are around a boardroom table.

It’s best to speak to an insurance expert and detail your needs and how your business works, taking note of what the recommended coverage entails and any excess you may be liable for.

Remember, public liability insurance won’t cover you, your employees, or your property in the event that something on site is damaged. That will be covered by your business insurance.

Quickfire summary

Public liability insurance may seem like just another unnecessary expense, but claims values have seen significant increases in recent times. These claims and the accompanying legal expenses can be devastating. Especially for small businesses

So while public liability insurance is optional, it is strongly advised for any business that has contact with members of the public. 

And the good news is that you can tailor your coverage to exactly what and how much you need. 

Our public liability insurance cover is designed to save you time, money and hassle by providing you with comprehensive liability insurance at the ideal rate for your business, whatever its size and scope. So whether you are wanting to renew or take up public liability insurance for the first time, speak to one of our brokers for the best advice.

Protect your business from life’s accidents. While we can’t always predict them, we can make sure you and your business are covered if, and when, they crop up.

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