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What is public liability insurance for the self-employed?

5 mins read
by Unbiased Team
Last updated Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Discover the benefits of having public liability insurance as a self-employed professional, including the situations these policies cover, how premiums are calculated, and complementary policies to protect your finances.


  • Self-employed public liability insurance covers your legal costs and compensation for injury or damage caused during your business operations.

  • This insurance is not legally required in the UK, but most clients require you to have it before they will work with you.

  • Premiums can vary depending on the nature of your work, turnover, and any optional coverage you may need.

  • Unbiased can connect you to a qualified insurance broker best suited to your needs.

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What is public liability insurance for self-employed workers?

Public liability insurance is a type of insurance designed to cover your legal expenses and compensation should someone be injured or killed due to your business operations as a self-employed individual.

It will also provide cover if an individual’s property is damaged or destroyed. Without this insurance in place, you would be personally liable for these costs.

This type of insurance is not legally required in the UK, but you may need it if your business requires you to interact with the public.

Public liability insurance can cover various industries, from construction to electrical work and more.

What does public liability insurance cover?

Public liability insurance for self-employed individuals covers a range of accidents and eventualities, including:

  • Public liability

  • Product liability

  • Financial losses

  • Legal liability and expenses

  • Accidental death

  • Employers’ liability

  • Contractors’ risks

  • Tools and equipment liability

  • Professional indemnity

  • Business contents liability

  • Personal accident protection

  • Short-term income protection

What does public liability insurance not cover?

Public liability insurance typically doesn’t cover:

  • Client claims made against you if your advice or services caused financial losses on their part.

  • Claims made against you for goods which were lost, damaged or stolen while you were transporting them.

  • Costs incurred when your business stops trading due to equipment damage, fires, and other unexpected events.

If you work from home and have clients or workers on site, public liability insurance cover is highly advisable as it can cover those who visit or work from your home.  

What is the cost of public liability insurance for the self-employed?

The cost of public liability insurance for self-employed professionals depends on a number of key factors.

These include the size and turnover of your business, your occupation, location and the type of work you perform, your history of past claims, and the provider you select. 

If you have high turnover, work in a high-risk occupation such as construction or plumbing, or live in a high-risk area, you may pay higher insurance premiums.

Your premium will also vary depending on whether you have chosen £1 million, £2 million, £5 million or £10 million worth of cover. 

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Which types of self-employed individuals should have public liability insurance?

Whether you need public liability insurance will depend on the nature of your work.

If you regularly interact with members of the public during your operations – for instance, as a construction worker, plumber, electrician, or shop owner – public liability insurance is crucial to cover you in the event of injury to anyone or damage to your property. 

If you work from home and have members of the public visit your home for business reasons, you may also need public liability insurance in the UK to cover gaps in your home insurance policy.

Liability insurance will cover incidents such as accidental damage to clients’ property in your home, such as coffee spilt on a phone or laptop.

Your own business equipment can also be covered under your policy. 

How do I choose the right public liability insurance if I’m self-employed?

The best way to find the right public liability insurance is to seek quotes from reputable insurance providers or by using a specialist insurance broker, who can find the best deal for you. 

Quotes are widely available online and require information such as your industry or trade, the type of business or operation you run, how long you have been self-employed, and your expected turnover for the upcoming year. 

Each insurance provider generates a quote, which you can compare to find the best price and most extensive coverage for your needs.

What are the pros and cons of public liability insurance?

There are unique pros and cons for the self-employed considering public liability insurance.


  • Public liability insurance in the UK covers legal expenses and compensation costs if you or your business causes accidental injury or damage to a property.

  • Insurance providers will tailor your insurance plan and premiums to your turnover and specific needs.

  • Public liability insurance provides peace of mind when it comes to dealing with damages, injuries and potential lawsuits.

  • Having this insurance may attract more clients, many of whom require you to have public liability insurance before they work with you.


  • The premiums for public liability insurance will add extra costs to your operations, particularly if you have a history of past claims or work in a high-risk industry.

  • This type of insurance may not cover every eventuality, meaning you may need additional plans for professional indemnity or personal property cover.

  • As a work-from-home professional working directly with the public, you may need to pay for public liability insurance to cover gaps in your standard home insurance policy.

What other insurance policies may complement public liability?

You might also wish to consider other types of insurance to complement your public liability insurance policy.

Policies such as employers’ liability insurance will protect you financially from claims stemming from employee injuries and illness, especially if you employ one or more people. Even if you have immediate family members working for you, your policy will still cover injuries and illness.

Professional indemnity insurance will cover compensation expenses should your clients lose money or experience reputational damage due to your professional advice. 

Personal accident cover will protect you and your income should you become injured, ill and unable to work, and personal possessions contents insurance will compensate you should your personal equipment be damaged or stolen.

You may also wish to take out health insurance, as this will not be provided by an employer.

Get expert financial advice

Public liability insurance is an important consideration for any self-employed professional who regularly works with the public.

This cover protects against numerous eventualities, helping to safeguard you and your business against unforeseen financial losses.

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Unbiased Team
Our team of writers, who have decades of experience writing about personal finance, including investing, retirement and pensions, are here to help you find out what you must know about life’s biggest financial decisions.