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August 12, 2021

What happens if I don’t have public liability insurance?

Written by Jack Lewis

In our blog last month, we looked at professional indemnity insurance, and how it’s there to protect your professional reputation and prevent your clients from experiencing financial losses because of something you’ve done – some bad advice given or a mistake made in the course of your work. This month, we’re shifting our focus to public liability insurance: what is it, why do you need it, what happens if you don’t have it, and how do you get covered?

What is public liability insurance?

Public liability insurance is the cover that protects third parties (i.e. other people) against injury, death and damage to their property as a result of your actions at work or the actions of your business. Yeah, it’s a bit of a scary thought. If someone gets hurt, or their things get wrecked, because of something you do in the course of your work, public liability cover steps in to pay any damages due. Dinghy public liability insurance for freelancers will also provide legal cover, including an expert team to defend you against the claim, and any fees payable.

A third party can be anyone you come into contact with in the course of your work: for example clients, customers, passers-by in streets, waiters in cafes, taxi drivers.

Public liability claim examples

It can sometimes be difficult for freelancers to get their head around how their occupation might be injurious to someone. After all, it’s not like you’re putting up scaffolding or driving a forklift truck. But actually, statistics from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) show that the most common workplace injuries are pretty mundane ones – but ones that can have serious implications nonetheless. Slips, trips or falls on the same level account for 29% of non-fatal workplace injuries. So if you’re working in a cafe and a waiter trips over your laptop cable, it’s easy to see how you could become part of those statistics. The waiter might break their wrist, or scald themselves with hot coffee, or damage someone else’s laptop as they fall.

A further 19% of injuries are related to handling or carrying. So if a taxi driver doesn’t hear your shouted warning that “it’s heavy!” and tries to hoist your bag of camera equipment into his boot, throwing his back out, again you could be looking at a public liability claim.

It’s not just injuries either. While things getting broken might be less serious than people getting hurt, it can still leave you significantly out of pocket. If you’re on your first post-lockdown visit to a client’s premises and your shoulder bag swings into an expensive ornament in the lobby, public liability insurance would cover the cost of replacing it.

Do I need to have public liability insurance as a freelancer?

Holding public liability insurance is not a legal requirement for most freelancers. However, it’s not uncommon for public liability claims to run into the tens of thousands, so you could be left with an extremely costly bill if you don’t hold it. If you couldn’t afford such a hefty payout (and, let’s face it, most freelancers couldn’t), public liability insurance will help secure your freelance business against this risk. A public liability insurance policy will cost your business a few pounds each month, and with it comes peace of mind. Dinghy will recommend an appropriate cover level for your business based on your occupation, number of clients and turnover. One big bonus for our freelancers is that, in the event of a claim, our team of lawyers will step to your defence, meaning that you don’t have to waste time finding legal representation or building a case – you can continue with your work instead while we handle the claim.

The other important thing for freelancers to know about public liability insurance is that, while you may not be required in law to hold it, it is likely to be a contractual requirement of many of the jobs you undertake as a freelancer. When you sign onto projects with clients, they will almost always stipulate in their contracts that you should hold a certain level of public liability insurance. If you can’t provide proof of your cover, you may miss out on opportunities for work, or find yourself in breach of contract.

How can I get public liability insurance?

Dinghy offers public liability insurance designed specifically for freelancers. We’ve got all the cover you need, with no extras that you don’t. It takes just 30 seconds to pop your details into our quick online form, and we’ll come back to you instantly with a quote for an appropriate level of cover for your business. We understand that flexibility is the backbone of freelance life, so we’re always looking for ways to make our insurance products adapt to your business. With all our policies, you can pay monthly at no extra cost, and you always have the option to switch your cover down when you’re not working – say if you’re between clients or taking a holiday. Public liability insurance helps give you peace of mind while you work, so why not let Dinghy deal with the dangers?

About Jack Lewis

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