If there’s one certainty in business, it is that working with the public is never predictable. Anything can, and probably will happen at some point. Although public liability insurance is not required by law, most businesses see it as an essential safety net against compensation claims from the public.
As a business owner it is your responsibility to protect your customers, staff and your company assets, but things don’t always go to plan and operating without public liability insurance, or other commercial insurance could lead to claims that could destroy your business.
Protection against being sued by a member of the public, has kept many businesses from collapsing under the huge cost of compensation claims.
You might be thinking that you have covered every angle and the cost of public liability insurance is simply not worth it, because your business is safe. But getting insured is much less costly than the worst-case scenario of getting sued.
The duty of care your business has can be complex. For example, did you realise that you have a duty of care to all visitors, even if you have not granted them permission to be on the premises? A trespasser can still make a claim!
But not only does this type of insurance protect you from claims, but it also protects your client’s property and workers. Should the work you undertake for a third-party on their site cause injury or damage, you would like to have peace of mind that you could actively compensate them without it being a financial issue for your business. Public liability insurance also covers you in this instance.
Policies come in many forms and can be actively tailored to best meet the needs of your business and the work it undertakes. Insurance can help you avoid a large variety of claims. This list will outline some of the most common and costly claims you can avoid with public liability insurance.
Claims you can avoid with public liability insurance
The reality is that the possibilities for claims are endless, but these are common areas of claims you can avoid with public liability insurance.
Think about your work environment, the tools you use and how your workforce operate. Now think about how many different ways there are that accidents could cause injury or damage. Activities such as items being dropped, breaking while in use or falling off can cause serious injuries in unpredictable ways.
This can be caused by negligence, poor maintenance or simply bad luck. Should an old chair break while a customer is sat on it causing injury – you will be liable. If an object falls from a shelf causing injury – you will be liable. If work you undertook on a third party premises causes injury in future – you will be liable. It is best to be protected against unpredictable events.
Take the example of a furniture fitter who was contracting on a new-build house. A cabinet he had installed dropped off a wall, knocking a fellow contractor down off a ladder. The contractor injured his back and wrist.
This claim was settled at £25,235, but the furniture fitter, covered by insurance, was only asked to pay the £250 excess of his policy. This saved him from the bankrupting costs of the claim.
Falls and slips
Now, these obviously come under ‘accidents’ but instances of people falling or slipping are so commonplace that it deserves addressing separately. Most commonly these accidents are caused by liquid spillage by someone or something in your business.
Of course, in the case of cleaning floors and other activities, there is active signage you can display to warn people of the danger, but you can’t always predict every instance. This can also be caused by disrepair with things like snagged carpets and uneven flooring causing trips and falls that can lead to injury.
Depending on the type of injury sustained claims can call in the region of £2,000 right up to costs in the region of £300,000 per injury, leaving your business with substantial costs to meet.
As a business owner, you’ll no doubt be fully compliant with legal testing requirements such as PAT testing for electrical equipment and relevant gas testing certificates, but even being up to date on such testing does not mean that faults cannot happen.
Burns can be the unfortunate result of many of the things covered above, but in other industries, there is more scope for the public to fall foul of this kind of injury. Operating a restaurant brings customers in contact with hot food, hot liquid and hot plates/equipment that can all cause injury.
A waitress could slip can spill hot food or liquid on a customer, a customer could accidentally touch a hot plate. For all of these incidents, the business owner would be liable and open to a claim.
Business is never predictable, and no two businesses are exactly the same. By throwing the general public into the mix and you have a situation where anything can happen and force a compensation claim against your business. It is best to have the protection of public liability insurance and other commercial insurance in order to survive if the worst should happen.