<iframe src="https://www.googletagmanager.com/ns.html?id=GTM-WCK3FXN" height="0" width="0" style="display:none;visibility:hidden" title="gtm-frame"></iframe>The costs of being a tradesperson | Trade Direct Insurance
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The costs of being a tradesperson

20 February 2019

When it comes to finances and money, what do tradespeople worry about most? Well according to you, the number one concern (and by some distance!) is tool theft.

Due to the nature of the industry and the work, there are naturally more financial worries associated with being a tradesperson then a lot of other jobs.

For example, while the biggest danger to an office worker’s wallet tends to be nothing more than copying in the boss to an inappropriate email, plumbers have the prospect of accidental flooding hanging over them on a daily basis.

Public liability insurance cover can help protect against financial loss in case of accident, but when it comes to finances and money, what do tradespeople worry about most?

We don’t have to tell you how important tools are. They’re your livelihood – you use them every day and rely on them to get the job done.

All professionals know that when you skimp on your tools, you’re risking pricey long-term damage, so having quality tools on the job isn’t a luxury, it’s an essential.

With the recent spike in targeted tool thefts leaving hardworking tradespeople out of pocket, it’s become an ongoing problem faced by self-employed builders, plumbers and other tradespeople – and one that certainly isn’t cheap.

Tradesman insurance can protect tools up to £15,000, helping with some of the stress and worry surrounding stolen tools.

Our Research

To find out more about the most common financial concerns, we asked a number of British tradespeople what their biggest worries about working in the industry were.

As well as this, we gathered Freedom of Information data to find out more about the crime statistics, like the number of tool thefts in the UK, from various police constabularies across the country, and used this in reference with our own data on how much the average tools theft costs a tradesperson.

Here’s what we found out…

Adding up the Cost of Tool Theft

Analysis of FOI data revealed that tool theft could have cost tradespeople a massive £94,521,600* in 2016 alone.

To put that into perspective, that would have been 450,000 days** that tradespeople had to work to pay for replacement tools and 215 of you having tools stolen every single day of the year!

Plus, the average insurance claim for tool theft added up to around £1,200 – more than a full week’s work for a tradesperson and an unnecessary financial burden.

We also drilled down into the regional data to see where the best and worst places in the UK for tool theft were:

  • Tradespeople in the East Midlands were more worried about tool theft than in other parts of the country.
  • 18 tradespeople had tools stolen in West Yorkshire every single day last year.

How Can You Keep Your Tools Safe?

Tool theft is clearly taking a financial toll on tradespeople in Britain and with the crimes tending to peak in the run up to Christmas, we have some tips on how to protect your van from being targeted by thieves:

  • Make sure the doors and windows of your van are all properly locked whenever it’s left unattended – even if you’re just quickly popping into a hardware store. Thieves could be waiting outside to target your van.
  • If possible, remove the most expensive of your tools from your van overnight.
  • Make sure you’ve researched any design flaws in vans that might make it easier for a criminal to break into it.
  • Consider extra security measures for your van, like a deadlock or alarm. With tool theft leaving builders, plumbers and other tradespeople out of pocket by thousands of pounds, it’s no surprise that it’s one of their main financial concerns, especially with the number of these crimes on the rise
  • Make sure your van insurance is up to date.

It boils down to more than just waiting for insurance pay out and buying new tools – it’s a financial burden that’s becoming so common that it’s even led to calls for stronger consequences for criminals who steal from tradespeople’s vehicles.


Other Worries for Tradespeople

As we’ve seen, it’s no wonder, then, that our survey revealed that having tools stolen was the biggest financial worry for a tradesperson.

With tool thefts becoming more and more common, 24% of the tradespeople we asked said that it was their main concern when it came to their finances, followed by:

  • Not having the right insurance cover (9%)
  • Being sued by a customer (8%)
  • Receiving a negative online review from a customer (5%)

Insurance cover was the next biggest financial concern.

With a builder or plumber’s tools being such an important part of making their living, tools insurance is a priority that shouldn’t be ignored. So, it’s a positive sign that it’s a priority for tradespeople as it can help protect them in the event of their tools being stolen.

Specialised plumber's insurance or builder's insurance can be personalised to add Tools cover and other extras to further protect your business.

This is also true for public liability and employer liability insurance. Failure to have the right cover here can not only leave you dangerously exposed to big bills should something go wrong but also fines running comfortably into four-figures.

With the rise of the online review and the internet turning everyone into a critic it’s understandable to see this concern among the most common. Although positive in the sense that customers can make informed decisions, one disgruntled reviewer can cost a tradesperson a lot of business.


It’s clear from our survey that there’s more to a tradesperson’s job than having the right skills to get the work done. With the rising number of tool thefts adding to the financial woes amongst hard-working tradesperson, we urge you to take sensible steps to protect your assets – whether that’s by taking out an insurance policy or by adding extra security to your van.


Trade Direct’s research was informed by:

  • A survey of 1,000 UK adults
  • Freedom of Information data supplied by police constabularies including West Yorkshire, Merseyside, North Yorkshire and East Midlands
  • Official data from the Compensation Recovery Unit (CRU)
  • The average insurance claim for tool theft is £1,200 according to Trade Direct Insurance claims data
  • The average tradespeople’s day rate is £210 according to tradeskills4U’s salary survey

Based on FOI data that showed the average tool theft as a percentage of the UK population equating to 78,768 crimes of this nature in 2016, and Trade Direct data of the average claim for tool theft equating to £1,200.

**Based on the total cost of tool theft (£94,521,600) divided by the average tradespeople’s day rate (£210) according to tradeskills4U’s salary survey.

Trade Direct is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. The company is a leading UK independent broker providing a wide range of policies to tradesmen and construction workers.

This note is not intended to give legal or financial advice, and, accordingly, it should not be relied upon for such or regarded as a comprehensive statement of the law and/or market practice in this area. In preparing this note we have relied on information sourced from third parties and we make no claims as to the completeness or accuracy of the information contained herein. You should not act upon information in this bulletin nor determine not to act, without first seeking specific legal and/or specialist advice. We and our officers, employees or agents shall not be responsible for any loss whatsoever arising from the recipient’s reliance upon any information we provide herein and exclude liability for the content to fullest extent permitted by law.

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