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What Does Public Liability Insurance Really Cover?

Rhino Trade Insurance 22 November 2021


Public Liability Insurance is the daddy of trade insurance policies

It’s the most common form of trade insurance taken out by self-employed tradespeople. But what is it?

Working in the trades is risky, and unfortunate things happen. Whether through negligence on your part or sheer bad luck, you might end up causing an incident which harms a member of the public. This could be anything from a sprained ankle to, in the worst-case scenario, death.

It could happen to a customer or someone completely random who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

In your line of work, you could also cause damage to someone’s property. Most trades are messy businesses and come with plenty of equipment and tools which could potentially cause harm to their surroundings. 

So, someone could easily bring a claim against your business if they get hurt or if the damage is caused to their stuff. You can’t really blame them – it’s only natural to want to be compensated for injury or damage. But it means you’d suddenly be in the firing line for the potentially massive costs involved with defending a case and paying out compensation to the victim.

This is where Public Liability Insurance comes in. 

Public Liability Insurance offers peace of mind which no tradesperson can afford to be without. It’s there so that if a case is brought against you, you have a financial safety net to cover the costs associated with settling the claim – which can be seriously high.

Rhino Trade Insurance offers cheap public liability insurance to a wide range of trades and industries. If you’re wondering, “what does public liability insurance cover” then look no further as we’ve detailed the main points for you below.



Officially speaking, Public Liability Insurance covers the policyholder in the event that injury or death is caused to a member of the public as a result of the work being carried out by the policyholder. The policy will also pay out if damage is caused to a third party’s property and a claim is made against you. The claim can be made either by an individual or a corporation – it doesn’t matter. You’ll still be responsible for settling it. 

The main costs of a public liability claim consist of legal fees and compensation, and they can both be extremely high. Having a good Public Liability Insurance policy in place means that if you were to cause an incident that resulted in a claim being made against your business, you would have the financial security to pay out. 

It’s not just a no-brainer from a self-protection point of view, either. Many contractors, businesses and councils make Public Liability Insurance a requirement of their contracts with contractors. They won’t work with an uninsured tradesperson, as having them on the job is too big a risk.

When you take out a policy with Rhino Trade Insurance, you’ll receive a Policy Wording document outlining the terms of your policy and setting out what’s covered and what’s not, including any exclusions. You should always read your policy documents carefully, as they will include the specific details of your cover.

You will also receive:

  • a Schedule of Insurance, which details what you need to pay and when as well as your chosen limits of indemnity
  • a Certificate of Insurance which is your proof of cover
  • and Terms of Business, which outlines Rhino’s services to our customers


limits of cover

We mentioned that public liability claims can be expensive. Whereas not every claim against you will cost millions, settling them without insurance can still wipe out your annual profits for even the most insignificant-seeming claim.

Rhino’s market-leading Public Liability Insurance can cover you anywhere up to £5 million on request. Not all businesses will want or need such a high threshold. It all depends on factors like the size of your business, the number of employees (if any) you have, and of course, the nature of your work.

It also depends on how risk-averse you are. Some people like to have a rock-solid level of cover in place just in case.

You just need to decide which level of cover suits you and your business best. Don’t worry if you’re not sure – our friendly, expert team are always on hand to help you with this.  



One question anyone taking out insurance wants to know is – what’s the excess? In case you didn’t know, the policy excess is the amount of money that must be paid by the policyholder in the event of the policy being claimed upon. 

Paying excess might seem like a pain, but it covers the cost of your claim and helps keeps your regular premiums low. It’s important to know that, unlike motor insurance, Public Liability Insurance excess is not something that can be increased to bring the overall policy premium down.

At Rhino Trade Insurance, our Public Liability Insurance has a £500 excess as standard. That means that in the event of a claim, the excess to pay is £500, regardless of the value of the claim. Even if your claim ends up reaching the millions, your excess stays the same.

The only scenario that would affect a Public Liability Insurance excess is in the event that the claim is being made as a direct result of the use of heat. This applies to certain trades, including heating engineers. In these cases, the excess would increase to £1000. 



As a busy professional working in the trades, you may find yourself working in different types of environments from week to week. You’re not exactly stuck in an office all day (which is probably what attracted you to the trade life in the first place!)

It is important to make sure that whatever professional environment you find yourself in, your Public Liability Insurance still covers you. Unless stated otherwise, Rhino’s Public Liability Insurance policies cover both Commercial & Domestic work being carried out. 

This means that in most cases, as a Rhino Trade Insurance customer, you can operate in both domestic and commercial environments, safe in the knowledge that the work you’re doing is covered should anything happen.



As a self-employed tradesperson looking to take out Public Liability Insurance, it’s vital that you’re aware of the locations where you’re covered to work – and those you aren’t. Operating outside of a certain area can invalidate your policy – so you need to check it carefully.

If you’re based in the UK, you most likely carry out your work there too. So, like most UK-based policies, Rhino Trade Insurance is valid subject to the policyholder’s business being domiciled and most of the work being carried out in the UK only. Any work carried out outside of the UK and overseas will not be covered, so make sure that if you do decide to take your trade outside the UK, you have checked the local laws and have relevant additional cover in place.

Further, some locations aren’t covered by the policy. These are places universally considered extra dangerous and include offshore gas or oil installations/ refineries, chemical or petrochemical works, mines, quarries, power stations, and any installation where nuclear processing is undertaken. Usually, a specialist contractor would be required to work in such locations so it’s not usually something a tradesperson has to worry about, but it’s still important to check the full list in your policy document, just in case.


Making a claim

The process of making a claim on your Public Liability Insurance is straightforward (at least with Rhino it is). 

But first, you’ll need to make a record of the incident and make sure you capture all the key details. This will become important later when processing your claim.

These details could be things like:

  • the date, time and location of the incident
  • what happened
  • the name and contact details of those present
  • photos and videos (from a mobile is fine)
  • CCTV footage (if available)
  • Police report (if applicable)
  • Medical report

With your policy number and supporting documentation to hand, you should then contact us – either by email or by phone. You should notify us promptly – unwarranted delays can risk voiding your claim. 

If you have the details of any individuals/ companies claiming against you, you should also provide them. However, you don’t need to wait until a claim is made against you. If an incident has happened that you could be liable for – tell us ASAP. 


any more questions?

For more information about the specifics of cover, all Public Liability Insurance policy information is found in the policy documentation section found on our website, and a set of FAQs can be found here

If you have any questions about what this policy covers, please do not hesitate to contact us. Call us on 0116 243 7904, email us at or simply type a message to us using the chat function on our website.

We’ve been processing Public Liability Claims for over 20 years, so whatever your query, we can help.

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