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The right public liability cover can be a crucial line of defence for construction firms


The world of construction can be fraught with risks, many of which posed to members of the public. This can be especially problematic in a financial sense – as, if your working practices lead a member of this group to pick up an illness or injury, they could respond by suing your construction firm.

For this reason, it’s crucial not to underestimate the worth of taking out public liability insurance. The right policy can help you to ensure that your company is covered in the right places.

How might construction firms inconvenience the public?

There are various ways in which a blunder on the part of you or your workers can give rise to an injury or illness prompting legal action. Where you carry out construction work could already be a very public place, such as on scaffolding above a stretch of readily accessible pavement.

Should you drop a tool that falls off this scaffolding and hits someone to injurious effect, you could be quickly faced with a compensation claim. Similarly, you would be liable if the scaffolding itself falls onto a passer-by with the same result, or your company’s building materials are haphazardly scattered around where they lead someone to trip and consequently suffer a major injury.

You could also find yourself in legal trouble if your company’s work causes damage to a property or car owned by a member of the public. Imagine if that dropped tool hit and so dented a car rather than injured a person. Meanwhile, a property could be in jeopardy if it neighbours your construction site and you aren’t sufficiently careful to prevent that nearby building becoming damaged.

In any of these cases, you could soon have legal costs and expenses to pay in defending a claim, as the Federation of Small Businesses acknowledges. Furthermore, if you lose the case, you would need to make a compensation payout. Fortunately, public liability insurance can cover all of these costs.

Practice diligence in your search for public liability cover

When looking for public liability insurance, remember that not all policies are created equal. The Planning Portal site says that most insurers offer such cover in the region of £1 million to £5 million. Where exactly within this region you should buy might depend on whether your contracts stipulate a specific level of cover, so check those contracts closely.

You should particularly keep in mind that, as a construction worker, the level of risk that your firm daily undertakes could be higher than that of a firm in a trade other than construction. For example, if your daily job could – if it went wrong – seriously injure passers-by, the risk would be high.

You might find it helpful to utilise services of insurance specialists capable of assessing your particular risk profile before presenting an insurance quote to suit. In the UK, Tradesman Saver is a good source of construction public liability insurance tailored to particular needs. Tradesman Saver also includes products liability cover with all of its policies.

Elliot Preece