As a self-employed plumber, do you need insurance? The simple answer is yes, it’s a wise business decision to have some protection in place in case there is an incident that leaves you vulnerable. This article will look at five types of insurance that may be worth investing in, to be able to protect yourself and the future of your business should you need to at any time.

  • Public liability insurance
  • Property insurance
  • Contract works insurance
  • Personal accident and sickness insurance
  • Employer’s liability insurance

Public liability insurance

What is public liability insurance?

Public liability is insurance that covers you if a claim is made by a member of the public against you or your business if they are injured, hurt or emotionally harmed during your work. For example, a customer might trip over your tools whilst you are working and cause themselves a long-term injury and therefore be entitled to compensation.

Public liability insurance will also cover a claim if a customer’s property or home is damaged while you are carrying out your services for them. For example, if your maintenance work created a leak and damaged carpets or ceilings.

Though public liability insurance is not required by law, it would be ill-advised to go without it. As a self-employed plumber, you probably have to deal with the public frequently and it covers you for any accidents that may occur. 

Also, sometimes you are required to prove that you have a valid public liability policy before you will be awarded a contract or allowed to work on another contractor’s site. 

This insurance will cover accidents or damage if a customer is at your premises or office, while you work in other people’s homes or any work at a building site. Public liability insurance will also usually cover any incidents where a customer has been harmed by any products or items used in your services, such as parts you’ve supplied.

The insurance covers any legal fees and compensation for the person involved. Compensation can often be a five-figure sum and this could be a devastating cost to your small business if the insurance didn’t cover it. 

Property insurance

Property insurance could be very important insurance for a plumber to have in place because it protects your tools, equipment, supplies and parts against accidental damage or theft. 

A standard policy will insure your property at your business premises, but in all likelihood you may be out working at customers’ houses. There also are policies that will cover your belongings in a vehicle. In this case, if anything were to happen to your tools in your van, the insurance would prevent you from having to replace them  all out of your own pocket. Always check the small print of the contract to ensure that your vehicle is part of the policy. 

Contract works insurance

This type of insurance policy protects your tools and any hired equipment that you are responsible for if you are a contractor on a work site. It’s sometimes called Contractors All Risk insurance and it covers injury or accidents that were out of your control as a contractor on a site. 

Personal accident and sickness insurance

As a self-employed person, or as a sole trader, the responsibility to bring in the money lies with you. But what happens to your income if you are unable to work for longer than just a few days? 

This insurance is for when you are unable to work for a period due to injury or illness. If you are recovering for a period of months or years then the payout on this will usually be a weekly sum, to cover bills and living expenses while you recuperate. If your injury or illness means that you are not able to return to work at all, then a lump sum payment would be awarded to you.

Employer’s liability insurance

As a self-employed plumber, it’s likely you may be a one-person operation, but you may hire someone temporarily to help on certain projects, or on an infrequent basis. You are legally required to have employer’s liability insurance in place if you ever pay someone to help you out with your plumbing jobs. There are severe penalties if you are found to employ someone (even on a casual basis) and don’t have this protection.

Employer’s liability insurance is for if an employee claims that you, or the activities they performed for you, are responsible for any injury or illness while working for your company. Again, compensation would be in the tens of thousands for even a minor injury, or up to a six-figure sum for a more serious injury, so cover is vital. 

What insurance should self-employed plumbers prioritise?

First, understand what type of work you undertake. If you work in customers’ homes day in, day out, then public liability and property insurance could be top of your list. And if you have someone to help you on larger projects or to help speed up the length of maintenance work, then you will have to look into employer’s liability insurance too.

If you are contracted for your services on work sites more than domestic plumbing work, then you will likely need public liability and contract works insurance more than the others. 

In any case, you may want to consider getting personal accident and sickness cover to protect your livelihood should you ever be unable to carry out your services.

However, there are lots of options for specific plumbers’ insurance that can include several of these insurances in one policy. Do your research to find the right policy for your business to protect both yourself and your trading future.

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