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What is Public Liability Insurance?

If you’re a sole trader or small business owner you have a responsibility to your customers, clients, suppliers, employees, and the general public if they suffer an injury, or their property is damaged as a result of your business activities.

Public Liability insurance is designed to protect you, your business, and your employees against compensation awarded for negligence for personal injury or property damage, as well the legal costs of a defending a claim. The likelihood of a claim being made against you is unpredictable and just one incident, whether you’re found liable not, could be crippling to your business, as well as negatively impacting your reputation.

You need Public Liability insurance if your customers visit you or you go out and about to see them, either at their premises, in public spaces, or places owned or controlled by others. You also need it if you manufacture or sell products.

What Does Public Liability Insurance Cover?

Public Liability insurance can cover everything from minor incidents right through to catastrophic accidents.

A typical policy will cover:

  • Third party damage claims for personal injury or property damage caused as a result of your business activities
  • Legal costs and expenses incurred from defending yourself and your business
  • Investigation costs to investigate claims
  • Medical costs and compensation payments arising from a claim. These can run into hundreds of thousands of dollars, depending on the severity of the injury or property damages
  • Damage or loss of third party property in your custody, care or control

Some common examples from which a public liability insurance claim could arise from include:

  • An unsafe environment where a third party is injured, such as slips or falls from wet or inconsistent flooring, an obstruction in a walkway, or inadequate lighting; unstable displays that collapses on top of your customer
  • Damage to a third party’s personal property, for instance, a drink spilt on your client’s laptop; or accidentally knocking over and breaking an antique vase whilst you’re visiting your client at their premises
  • Accidental injury or sickness caused by you or your employees from negligence, for example, your customer suffers food poisoning from the food you have served them; spilling hot water or liquid over your client causing burns
  • A faulty or defective product you have sold that has resulted in third party injury or property damage

These are just a few scenarios, however the list of possibilities is endless!

How Do I Choose The Right Policy?

When considering a Public Liability Insurance policy it’s important to consider the risks your business is exposed to, as each industry and business can be vastly different.

Not all policies are the same either, with most being tailored to meet the needs of individual businesses. So it’s wise to get a number of quotes to compare the costs, as well as the level and types of cover offered by various companies. This way you can make sure that you will be covered for all eventualities and are not paying too much for the policy. offers free multiple quotes from Australia’s leading insurers so you can compare policies without the need to ring around or visit numerous websites. With no tricky paperwork to complete you can get immediate coverage and your policy documents are emailed to you instantly.

How Much Cover Do I Need For My Public Liability Insurance?

Each business will also require a different amount of cover, typically anywhere between $5M to $20M. However, most small businesses opt for around $10M. When deciding on a policy you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do any of your contracts require a minimum level of cover?
  • Has your industry body set a minimum level of cover for membership?
  • Does your business or trade license require a minimum amount of cover?
  • Do the terms of your lease require a minimum level of cover?
  • Finally, think about what your level of risk and exposure could be. What kind of accidents could occur and what could be the potential cost of a claim?
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