Public Liability insurance FAQs

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Explaining Public Liability insurance

Questions and answers that relate to Public Liability insurance, including what it is designed to cover, levels of cover that are available, where insurance applies to and information about No Claim Discounts.

This information is provided as a guide only, and if you have any doubts or questions, you can give our expert team a ring on 08000 280 380.

Full details of our Terms & Conditions, Limits, Excesses and Policy Exclusions can be found in our Policy Wordings. These guides refer to our Tradesmans’ Insurance policy. Trade Direct do not offer advice relating to insurance, and you need to ensure that insurance you choose meets your demands and needs.

Q. What does Public Liability insurance cover?

Q. Is Public Liability insurance required by the law?

Q. What level of Public Liability insurance should I buy?

Q. What is Products Liability insurance?

Q. Can I have an additional or secondary trade?

Q. How many employees or trainees can I insure?

Q. What is meant by a “Main Trade”?

Q. What business types do you insure?

Q. What trades do you insure?

Q. What is your turnover limit?

Q. What is your manual workforce limit?

Q. What is a labour only sub-contractor?

Q. What is a bona-fide sub-contractor?

Q. What is a No Claim Discount?

Q. Do you offer a No Claim Discount on trade insurance?

Q. Do I have to provide my No Claim Discount proof?

Q. Can I lower my Public Liability insurance premium?

Q. Do you insure businesses in Northern Ireland?

Q. Do you insure businesses in the Isle of Man?

Q. Do you insure businesses in the Channel Islands?

Q. What is the difference between Public Liability insurance and Employers’ Liability insurance?

Q. How can I pay for my policy?

Q. Can I pay by debit/ credit card?

Q. Can I pay by instalments?

Q. How do I get my documents?

Q. Can I download my documents from your website?

Q. I bought my policy via your call centre. Can I manage my policy online?

Q. How do I activate my online account?

Q. Can I change my password?

Q. I’ve forgotten my password. What do I do?

Q. Can I change my username?

Q. Can I update my email address?

Q. How do I notify you of a claim?

Q. Can I manage my policy online?

Q. Can I make changes to my policy online?

Q. Can I renew my policy online?

Q. Can I notify you of a claim online?

Q. I bought a Trade UK policy. Can I get my documents online?

Q. Can I get my documents posted to me?



Q. What does Public Liability insurance cover?

A. Public Liability insurance is designed to pay the legal costs and any compensation payments that your company could be liable for should you or one of your employees cause damage to property, or injury to a person in connection with your business. In the construction and trade industries, the instances where property damage or personal injury can occur are numerous.

As a tradesperson, you are likely to be working either in the home or business premises of a client, or on a construction site. With plant, hand and powered tools, machinery and construction materials all potentially on site, there are many events that could give rise to a claim against you.

Public liability insurance may cover you for incidents that occur at your premises, a client site such as their home, or a construction site.

Q. Is Public Liability insurance required by the law?

A. No. Public Liability insurance isn’t required by law in Great Britain, Northern Ireland the Channel Isles or the Isle of Man – other than in some rare circumstances. When it comes to trade business insurance, the only insurance that is required by law is Employers’ Liability insurance (if you have employees), though if you have a vehicle, you'll also require car or van insurance which is also a legal requirement. If you run a business where the actions of you, your employees or sub-contractors could cause damage or injury to people or property, Public Liability insurance should be considered highly advisable.

Q. What level of Public Liability insurance should I buy?

A. The precise amount of cover that you should buy will be determined by your specific circumstances, and the insurances needs of businesses vary from one to the next. Let’s take it step by step.

  • Firstly, some contracts require you to have Public Liability insurance, and may stipulate a minimum level. You should check any paperwork before undertaking a contract, to be sure that you have the minimum required.
  • Secondly, certain employers, such as local and central government can have minimum levels of cover that they require of contractors and sub-contractors, so you should check this out.
  • Thirdly, some trade associations and bodies require that their members have public liability, and that this is held to a certain level. If you’re a member of a trade association, you should consider checking to see if any requirements are stipulated.
  • Finally, you need to consider the nature of your business, what it does, where it operates and how many employees and trainees it has. Each of these factors has an impact on how likely it is that things go wrong, and that you could be sued.

So, there’s no easy answer to the question, and the consequences of being under insured could be significant in the event of a legal action against you. We offer levels of £1M, £2M and £5M, providing you with options to help protect your business. If you require a higher level of cover, please call us on 08000 280 380.

Q. What is Products Liability insurance?

A. Products Liability is included as part of our standard Public Liability insurance, and is designed to cover your legal liability for accidental death or personal injury to people, and/ or accidental damage to material property in connection with your products. Products are any commodities or goods or anything (including packaging, containers and labels) sold, supplied, hired out, constructed, erected, installed, treated, repaired, serviced, processed, stored, handled, transported or disposed of by you or on your behalf, or any structure constructed, erected or installed or contract work executed by you or on your behalf in the course of your business.

Q. Can I have an additional or secondary trade?

A. Yes. If you have a primary trade, maybe as a plumber, but also work on occasion as, say, a carpenter, you’ll want to be sure that you’re covered for both of these trades. Our Tradesman policy allows you to choose your main trade, and also specify a secondary trade. If you have more than two trades, please ring us on 08000 280 380.

Q. How many employees or trainees can I insure?

A. We insure a manual work force of up to a total of 15 employees and/ or trainees, who work manually away from your premises. Trainees must be on a regular, ongoing training course. This number does not include clerical staff, who do not need to be listed as they are covered as standard.

Q. What is meant by a “Main Trade”?

A. This is the trade that takes up the majority of your working time.

Q. What business types do you insure?

A. Our policy for tradespeople covers a range of business types including Sole Traders, Partnerships, Limited Liability Partnerships and Limited Companies.

Q. What trades do you insure?

A. We insure a wide range of trades, in fact it’s over 70, so whatever you do from air conditioning engineers to wheelie bin cleaners, there’s a good chance that we insure your trade.

Q. What is your turnover limit?

A. We insure businesses with a turnover of up to £1.5M per annum. If your turnover limit is higher than this, please ring us on 08000 280 230.

Q. What is your manual workforce limit?

A. We insure a manual work force of up to a total of 15 employees and/ or trainees, who work manually away from your premises. Trainees must be on a regular, ongoing training course.

Q. What is a labour only sub-contractor?

A. Providing an exact definition for a labour only sub-contractor is not straightforward, but if you can answer “yes” to most of these, the worker is probably a labour only sub-contractor:

  • Are they paid by the day/ week/ month?
  • Can they receive overtime?
  • Do they always have to do the work themselves?
  • Can you tell them at any time what to do, where to do it, and how to do it?
  • Do you supply the materials?

Looking at the questions above, to some extent, it boils down to the level of decision making and autonomy that the worker has. For the purposes of UK labour law; a labour-only sub-contractor is an employee. They do not provide their own materials and tools normally. They work under the direction of the contractor. They will need to be factored into your insurance calculations as employees as typically they will not provide their own insurance coverage.

Q. What is a bona-fide sub-contractor?

A. Providing an exact definition for a bona sub-contractor is not straightforward, but if you can answer “yes” to most of these questions, the worker is probably a bona fide sub-contractor:

  • Do they agree to do the job for a fixed price, regardless of how long the job may take?
  • Do they supply the materials at their own cost?
  • Do they hold their own public liability insurance?
  • Can they hire someone to do the work, or engage helpers at their own expense?
  • Within an overall deadline, can they decide what work to do, and how and when to do the work?

Looking at the questions above, to some extent, it boils down to the level of decision making and autonomy that the worker has. Bona-fide sub-contractors are generally deemed to be contractors who work without direction from the Insured, hold their own insurance and usually provide their own materials and tools.

Q. What is a No Claim Discount?

A. If you’ve bought car or van insurance, you’ll probably know all about No Claim Discounts. No Claim Discounts, sometimes known as a No Claim Bonus, are discounts that are offered to people who haven’t claimed against their insurance for a given period of time. We offer up to 10% No Claim Discount, if you have 2 years or more claim free. If you have a claim during a period of insurance with us, we may reduce or remove your No Claim Discount.

Q. Do you offer a No Claim Discount on trade insurance?

A. Yes. We offer up to 10% No Claim Discount off our Tradesmans’ insurance if you have 2 years or more claim free.

Q. Do I have to provide my No Claim Discount proof?

A. In the event that you need to make a claim, the insurer may perform checks relating to your claims history, and you may have to demonstrate your no claim discount entitlement. In the event that undeclared claims come to light, your claim may be reduced, or the claim may be rejected.

Q. Can I lower my Public Liability insurance premium?

A. Some insurance companies and policies offer a voluntary excesses, where you can opt to reduce the amount that would be paid in the event of a claim. This can discourage smaller claims from being made, and means that claims pay-outs can be lower, so the insurance company may charge less for the policy as a result. Because you’re insuring your livelihood, we believe that the right cover is important, rather than the lowest price. You can choose from our Essentials, Classic or Plus cover, which include different levels of optional cover, but it is important that the amounts you choose reflect your needs. Should you choose a low level of cover, and need to claim a higher amount, the claim may be reduced or not paid.

Q. Do you insure businesses in Northern Ireland?

A. Yes. Our tradesman insurance covers businesses in Northern Ireland, Great Britain, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. You can purchase tradesman insurance for businesses in Northern Ireland online, or ring us on 08000 280 380. We offer the same product, cover options and limits whether you’re in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.

Q. Do you insure businesses in the Isle of Man?

A. Yes. Our tradesman insurance covers businesses in the Isle of Man, Great Britain, Northern Ireland, and the Channel Islands. You can purchase tradesman insurance for businesses in the Isle of Man online, or ring us on 08000 280 380. We offer the same product, cover options and limits whether you’re in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.

Q. Do you insure businesses in the Channel Islands?

A. Yes. Our tradesman insurance covers businesses in the Channel Islands, Great Britain, Northern Ireland, and the Isle of Man. You can purchase tradesman insurance for businesses in the Channel Islands online, or ring us on 08000 280 380. We offer the same product, cover options and limits whether you’re in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.

Q. What is the difference between Public Liability insurance and Employers’ Liability insurance?

A. Pretty much everything! It's probably best having a read about “What is Public Liability insurance?” and “What is Employers’ Liability insurance?

Q. How can I pay for my policy?

A. We currently offer two ways of paying for your Tradesman Public Liability insurance policy. You can either pay with a credit or debit card in a single instalment, or via instalments on Direct Debit. Please note that Trade Direct acts a credit broker and not a lender.

Please do not use the “Pay a Policy Premium” to pay for a policy when you purchase it. Please select either “Credit/ Debit Card” or “Instalments”.

Q. Can I pay by debit/ credit card?

A. Yes. We accept payments made using major credit and debit cards. We don’t apply a charge for the use of debit cards, however if you choose to pay with a credit card, we apply a fee. Please see the Fees we Charge page.

Q. Can I pay by instalments?

A. Yes. You have the option of paying for your insurance in instalments via Direct Debit. We work exclusively with a third-party who provides credit. Please see our Credit Example and Information for further details. Trade Direct Insurance is a credit broker, not a lender.

Q. How do I get my documents?

A. When you buy a Tradesman Public Liability policy through our website, your documents are available immediately from the “My Trade Direct” area of the website. You will need to log in using the email address that you provided to us as your username, and the password that you created for yourself when you activated your account. We do not email policy documents directly from the website.

Q. Can I download my documents from your website?

A. Yes. When you purchase a Tradesman Public Liability insurance policy from Trade Direct Insurance via our website, we automatically create an online account for you, using the email address that you provided in the quotation process as your username. You should have received an email from us with a link to create your password.

If you buy a Tradesman Public Liability insurance policy via the telephone, before you can access your documents, you’ll need to activate your online account. Account activation for policies bought on the phone requires your Policy Reference and your full postcode. We can provide your policy reference for you when you buy your policy. Once you have this information, please click on www.tradedirectinsurance.co.uk/activate or enter this into your browser website address URL and follow the instructions.

Q. I bought my policy via your call centre. Can I manage my policy online?

A. Yes. Before you can manage your Tradesman Public Liability insurance policy, you will need to activate your online account. Account activation for policies bought on the phone requires your Policy Reference and your full postcode. We can provide your policy reference to you when you buy your policy.

Q. How do I activate my online account?

A. If you have bought a Tradesman Public Liability policy from us over the telephone and want to view or download your documents, you will need to create and activate an online account. Account activation for policies bought on the phone requires your Policy Reference and your full postcode. We can provide your policy reference for you when you buy your policy, or you can give us a ring on 08000 280 380 and we can provide it for you. Once you have this information, please click on www.tradedirectinsurance.co.uk/activate or enter this into your browser website address URL and follow the instructions.

Q. Can I change my password?

A. Yes. Before you can change your password, you will need to log in to your Trade Direct account. If you’ve forgotten your password, then you’ll need to use our “Forgot password” function, which is available from the “My Trade Direct” area of our website. Once you’ve successfully logged in, you will need to select the “Edit my profile” section of “My Trade Direct”. You can choose a memorable password, and click “Save”.

Q. I’ve forgotten my password. What do I do?

A. We have a forgotten password link on our website. Clicking the “Forgot” link in the “Sign in” area of My Trade Direct and entering your email address will send you an email with a link to reset your password. You can then change your password.

Q. Can I change my username?

A. Yes. To change your username, you first need to log in to your “My Trade Direct” using the email address that you were previously using. You can then click on “Edit my details” and choose a new email address and click/ tap “Save”.

Q. Can I update my email address?

A. Yes. To change your email address (which is your username), you first need to log in to your “My Trade Direct” using the email address that you were previously using. You can then click on “Edit my details”, choose a new email address and click/ tap “Save”.

Q. How do I notify you of a claim?

A. Claims can be worrying, and at Trade Direct we’re passionate about helping our customers. You’re welcome to contact us, and we’ll help in any way we can, however claims processing is handled by the insurer – not us.

We have a comprehensive list of Claims contact numbers on our Making a Claim page.

Q. Can I manage my policy online?

A. Yes. We have a number of online functions, which are listed below. When you get a full quote, we automatically create an online account for you, if you don’t already have one. You will need to use this online account to manage your quote(s) and policie(s).

Q. Can I make changes to my policy online?

A. During your policy term, if you need to make any changes, you will need to ring us on 08000 280 380, but you’ll be able to pay any amounts online – using “Pay a Policy Premium”.

Q. Can I renew my policy online?

A. At Renewal, you can view your renewal documents online, and if you don’t need to make any changes, you can pay your renewal premium online. If you’d like to change your cover at renewal, or notify us of any changes, you will need to ring us on08000 280 380.

Q. Can I notify you of a claim online?

A. You’re welcome to contact us, and we’ll help in any way we can, however claims processing is handled by the insurer – not us.

We have a comprehensive list of Claims contact numbers on our Making a Claim page.

Q. I bought a Trade UK policy. Can I get my documents online?

A. If you bought a Tradesman’s insurance policy from the Trade UK website between September 2012 and 1st September 2014, unfortunately you are not currently able to view or download documents from the Trade Direct website. To access your documents, please ring us on 08000 280 380 and we will be able to email them to you. If you bought a Trade UK policy on the Trade Direct website after the 1st September 2014, you will be able to Sign-In and access your documents, as detailed in other FAQs on this page.

Q. Can I get my documents posted to me?

A. Yes. Like many companies, we provide documents electronically when you buy on our website, and also when you purchase on the telephone. This is quicker and environmentally friendly. This means you get your documents in minutes and we do our bit for the environment. It’s also cheaper, which helps us bring you quality insurance at trade prices.

Any more questions?

If you have a question that's not answered here, please ring us on 08000 280 380. If you'd like to get a Tradesman's Public Liability quote, please visit our Public Liability.

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