Public Liability

Protect your business from legal action should an accident occur on your premises with Public Liability Insurance.

What is Public Liability Insurance?

Public Liability Insurance (PLI) is a type of insurance that protects you in the event your business is held legally responsible for an injury to a member of the public or damages to their property. If you’re taken to court, having a PLI policy means your insurer will pay the legal costs on your behalf, up to a pre-agreed limit.

While Public Liability Insurance protects business owners from claims made by members of the public, it can also cover claims from contractors and clients. However, PLI does not extend to any injuries to business owners or employees.

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What does Public Liability Insurance cover?

A typical Public Liability Insurance policy will cover your business for third-party injury or death, compensation claim payments, and potential repair or replacement costs for possessions or property that are damaged by your business's activity.

Who needs Public Liability Insurance?

Any business that works with customers or clients should invest in Public Liability Insurance. Even LTD companies and partnerships should have some form of PLI in place.

Below are some examples of how businesses can benefit from PLI:

Self-employed and sole traders 

  • Plumbers - Stay covered if a leak you’re trying to repair causes someone to slip.
  • Gardeners - Covers you if someone trips on stray tools.
  • Window cleaners - If someone is injured by an item you drop from a height, PLI will cover you.
  • Hairdressers - Stay covered if someone cuts themselves on a pair of scissors that are left exposed on a countertop.

Small businesses

  • Cafes - Scalds or burns from hot drinks and plates can be severe. Stay protected when someone makes an injury claim against you and your staff.
  • Shops - Trip hazards in doorways or heavy items not shelved correctly can cause injury to members of the public coming in and out of your shop.
  • Offices - Something as simple as loose carpeting can cause a visitor to slip and fall, so you need PLI to keep you covered.

How to determine whether you need Public Liability Insurance

If your business doesn’t fit into these examples, you should ask yourself the following questions to determine whether or not you need a PLI policy:

  • Does your business come into frequent contact with members of the public?
  • What type of activity does your business carry out, and how could it impact customers or members of the public?
  • Could your business afford to pay any legal fees or a compensation payout, should a claim be made against you for injury or damage?
  • Does your industry regulator or trade body require a minimum level of cover for membership?
  • Do your clients or customers require a minimum level of cover before they will commission work with you?


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Why choose Swinton for your Public Liability Insurance?

There are several reasons why Swinton should be your first choice for PLI:

  • A wide range of cover - Our PLI policies are available for a range of job titles and trade sectors, from builders to accountants.

  • Bespoke policies - We can tailor your insurance with additional cover to suit your business needs.

  • Vast experience - We’ve been providing insurance for more than 60 years, and we protect more than 30,000 businesses like yours, so you know you can trust us to find the right cover.

How much does Public Liability Insurance cost?

The cost of Public Liability Insurance varies depending on your insurer — but with Swinton, you could pay as little as £31 a year. 


10% of new customers paid £31 for annual Public Liability cover, 01/05/2021 to 31/10/2021. Premiums are based on individual circumstances.

Public Liability Insurance FAQs

Is it a legal requirement to have Public Liability Insurance?

While having a Public Liability policy isn’t compulsory under UK law, many businesses have one in place should the unexpected happen. A customer or client could ask that you have cover in place before they work with you. Plus, it may be an obligation of your industry regulator or trade bodies you want to join.

How much Public Liability Insurance do I need?

The amount of PLI you should be sufficient to cover a worst-case scenario. If you work across multiple sites and frequently come into contact with third parties, it’s worth increasing your amount of cover under your Public Liability Insurance policy.

You should also check with your clients to find out the level of PLI they expect you to have. Some clients, such as governments and local authorities, will only grant contracts to suppliers that have between £5 million and £10 million of Public Liability Insurance in place.

What is a PLI certificate?

A Public Liability Insurance certificate is an official document that provides proof of coverage. Businesses with a PLI certificate may choose to publicly display it for peace of mind to their clients, though it’s not compulsory to do so.

PLI certificates list who is insured, the insurance company, the policy number and the insurance period. They also detail the policy’s terms, including the indemnity limit: the maximum that the insurer will pay in the event of a claim.

Will I get a PLI certificate if I take out a policy with Swinton Insurance?

Sometimes — it depends on the insurer with which you take our your policy. Where a certificate is not provided, though, a ‘Schedule’ is issued in its place, which serves the same purpose as evidence that you’re insured.

Can I take out Public Liability Insurance for just one day?

No — our PLI policies are for 12 months of cover. However, you can cancel before your renewal date (fees apply).

What is not covered by Public Liability Insurance?

Public Liability Insurance does not cover injury to you or your employees. If an employee claims against your business, it will be covered by an Employer’s Liability Insurance policy. With Swinton, you have the option to get both Public Liability and Employer’s Liability Insurance under one policy.

PLI won’t cover damages to your business property, whether accidental or malicious. However, our Commercial Property Insurance will cover damage to your property.

Finally, a Public Liability Insurance policy won’t cover all the costs of a payout. It includes an excess; that is, a payment you need to make before the insurer covers the rest of the claim. If you faced a claim worth £4,000 and your excess was £300, for example, you would need to pay £300 yourself before your insurer paid the remaining £3,700.

Is Public Liability Insurance tax-deductible?

Yes, PLI is tax-deductible. Public Liability Insurance is a business cost that meets in HMRC’s criteria for allowable expenses.

What’s the difference between Public Liability Insurance and Employer’s Liability Insurance?

Public Liability Insurance covers you for claims made against you by people outside of your business, while Employer’s Liability Insurance protects you from claims made by your employees. It covers the cost of compensation, plus any legal fees that you are liable to pay.

It’s worth noting that if you have any employees, it is a legal requirement that you have an Employers Liability Insurance policy in place.  At Swinton Business, we can arrange Employers’ Liability Insurance alongside your Public Liability Insurance under one policy with a single renewal date.

Other types of insurance for your business

Professional Indemnity Insurance

Professional Indemnity Insurance helps pay for any legal fees and compensation costs following a claim against you for professional negligence or incorrect advice.

Employers' Liability Insurance

A legal requirement for most businesses, this will help cover any compensation costs if your employee claims due to injury or illness caused by the work they do for you.

Business Equipment Insurance

Business Equipment Insurance offers protection against theft and malicious or accidental damage of your valuable tools or business equipment.

Useful guides for business owners

Secure your business

Advice on how to secure your business premises.

While you can’t completely remove the risk of your business premises being broken into or damaged, there are some steps you can take to protect it as best you can. How can you improve your business premises’ security?