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Public Liability Insurance

Public liability: smart subcontractors protect properly

You wouldn't go on site without your work boots - it's just common sense. You shouldn't go on site without public liability insurance either.

Subcontractors are rarely, if ever, covered by a project's main contractor for accidents or damage that the subbie's team causes. Going on-site without public liability insurance can be as risky – what happens if the client tumbles in that trench you dug, but didn't cover, and then breaks their arm and sues you? What happens if your apprentice's wiring causes an accidental fire and extensive damage?

Yes it was an accident, but who's going to pay to fix the problem, clear compensation claims and settle the lawyers' bills, all of which could add up to a small fortune? Some claims run into millions; without public liability insurance you stand to lose your business or even your home. It's just not worth the risk.

Your business, your responsibility

As a Subcontractor working under a main Contractor, you might think that they will have public liability insurance covered. They will - but only to protect the work that they perform, not for yours.

Think about it for a moment - you wouldn't pay for insurance for someone else's business, so why would they pay to protect yours?  Even in the rare case where the head contractor does have some Subcontractor protection, it makes sense to check the fine print yourself - exactly what is covered?

That's the exception to the rule though. Generally Subcontractors need to sort out their own public liability insurance. Smart head-contractors often won't let you start until they've seen your insurance certificate of currency, in case they end up in hot water down the track. Some trades, electricians and plumbers for example, are also required to have public liability insurance to keep their licence in many parts of Australia.

Reap the rewards, manage the risks

As a sub-contractor you enjoy the flexibility and financial independence that comes from running your own business. But along with the rewards there are risks, and it's important to properly address them. After all you don't want to risk losing your business or your home if you have to one day settle a big damages bill.

Tailored public liability insurance keeps you in control, delivering affordable protection and peace of mind. It's just common sense.