If you are a plumber, you probably don’t need to be reminded of many headaches that can commonly arise when you carry out plumbing work. Being a plumber can be very time-consuming – not least because, even at home, you need to organise tax returns and send out invoices.

Therefore, it makes sense to have insurance to lower the risk of giving yourself even more headaches. Public liability cover is one option, but how much would you truly need it?

What is public liability cover?

This type of cover, otherwise called public liability insurance, would financially protect you if, in the course of carrying out your work, you make a blunder that ultimately necessitates your payment of compensation to an adversely affected third party.

There are various examples of how public liability cover could become necessary for plumbers. You might install some taps incorrectly and so cause flooding that damages the client’s property. If water damage extends to a neighbouring property as well, its owner could also sue you.

With this insurance, you would also be better positioned to provide compensation for a member of the public who has suffered an injury due to your plumbing work. This could happen if someone trips over a cable or pipe that you had carelessly left out where it wasn’t supposed to be.

In practice, can you decide against taking out this cover?

You could be tempted to think so, as public liability insurance is not compulsory in a legal sense. However, the Federation of Small Businesses cautions that some clients might, in the conditions of a contract, stipulate you hold public liability cover before you can start working with them.

If you want to join a particular membership body or regulator as a business member, you might also see public liability insurance in their list of requirements. You might want to join such organisations as a means of promoting yourself – and an especially trustworthy body might insist on public liability.

In January 2018, BBC News reported how easily a reporter could pretend to be a handyman on the trade website Rated People, which did not verify its members by asking for insurance details. This was contrary to several similar sites which sought proof of public liability insurance.

Public liability can provide a valuable financial cushion

Even assuming that you are very well-versed in how to handle water and gas appliances safely and you routinely provide plumbing work of a high standard, accidents can still happen. Costs of making a mistake can arise in various unexpected ways, too.

Someone who sues you for damaging their property, for example, could claim for the costs of both the damage itself and having to stay in a hotel while waiting for their usual home to be repaired. From you, they could also recover money they have spent on legal fees when making their claim.

It’s reassuring, then, that legal expenses cover is a standard inclusion with each of the plumbers public liability insurance policies available from Tradesman Saver.

Claire Preece