There are many types of insurance for retailers, but none may be as essential as Public Liability coverage. These basic policies help protect small businesses against some of the most common claims and lawsuits they may face. You may even be required to have Public Liability insurance if you lease retail space to sell your products.

Let’s take a closer look at Public Liability insurance for retailers, what it covers, and where to buy it.

What is Public Liability insurance?

Consider this scenario*: A customer is injured after they trip and fall over a vacuum cord inside your shop. It’s just an accident, but you might still be held liable for injuries and asked to pay their resulting medical bills and other compensation. Claims like these can become very expensive for small retailers.

Public Liability insurance covers legal fees and compensation costs if a customer, member of the public, or a supplier claims against you for injury or damage to their property as a result of your alleged negligent business activity.

Even the most careful business owners sometimes find themselves in tricky situations like the one above. Without Public Liability insurance, you’ll be out of pocket if a member of the public (or, in insurance-speak, a “third-party”) makes a claim against your retail shop.

But with a policy, you can worry less about where the money to compensate them will come from. Your insurance company will pay to fix the situation up to your coverage limits. This could mean the difference between business as usual or putting out the closed sign for good.

What is (and isn’t) covered

Let’s break down the coverage provided by Public Liability insurance in more detail. A Public Liability policy typically pays for:

  • Personal injury suffered by a third-party – Retailers interact with members of the public every day (think your customers, suppliers, delivery people, and tradies fixing something in your shop). An accident could happen in the blink of an eye. No matter how unintended, you could still be held responsible because it happened in your store.
  • Damage to a third-party’s property – Causing an injury isn’t the only risk you may need to consider. Accidentally damaging someone else’s belongings while you’re working could also create a pricey claim for your retail business.
  • Your legal and defence costs for related claims – Claims and lawsuits can get expensive fast. And the longer they take to resolve, the more costly you can expect them to become. Even if you’re not at fault, simply defending yourself against liability claims can still cost an arm and a leg!

Public Liability insurance can help shield your retail shop against some serious and expensive claims. But the coverage these policies provide is limited. Typically, a Public Liability policy will not cover:

  • Personal injuries to you or your employees
  • Damage to your own property
  • Costs of repairing faulty workmanship
  • Professional negligence or unlawful activity
  • Reckless or willful failure to take care
  • Contractual liability
  • Asbestos
  • Advertising Injury
  • Pollution

When you buy a Public Liability policy, you’ll receive a Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) from the insurer. You should always read the PDS if you’re unsure if something is covered, and have a chat with your insurer to double-check.

What if I sell my own products?

Many retailers make and sell their own products. No matter what product you’re selling—from eco-friendly candles and handmade wooden bowls to skincare lotions and custom clothing—Public Liability insurance probably has you covered!

Most Public Liability policies include Products Liability coverage. This protects your business against injury and property damage claims caused by your products. Products Liability extends to any product that you make, assemble, grow, bottle, alter, repair, service, or sell. It also covers products that you import or export and those that are sold on your behalf.

Again, always check your PDS for full details on your Products Liability cover. There may be important exclusions or geographical limitations that you may need to consider.

Where to buy Public Liability insurance

If you’re sold on Public Liability insurance (or your retail landlord has said you have to have it), then it’s time to buy a policy. You could go directly to each insurer, wait for a quote, and compare your options before calling back to buy. Or, you could do it the fast and easy way.

Public Liability Australia makes it easy for busy shop owners to get covered and on with their day. Receive multiple free quotes from some of Australia’s top insurers, compare and buy—all in a matter of minutes! Plus, you can also compare other types of insurance for retailers at the same time.

Get quotes today and protect your retail business the stress-free way!

*The provision of the claims examples are for illustrative purposes only and should not be seen as an indication as to how any potential claim will be assessed or accepted. Coverage for claims on the policy will be determined by the insurer, not Public Liability Australia.

This information is general only and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. It should not be relied upon as advice. As with any insurance, cover will be subject to the terms, conditions and exclusions contained in the policy wording. 

© 2022 BizCover Pty Limited, Public Liability Australia is a business name of BizCover Pty Ltd (ABN 68 127 707 975; AFSL 501769)