Why should plumbers take out public liability policies?
First and foremost, Plumbers should seriously consider public liability cover for exactly the same reasons as any other business should.
These reasons are identical whether you operate as a one man band sole trader or a small plumbing firm employing a handful of staff.
They are equally as identical regardless of the sector in which any one man band sole trader or SME company operates in. Liability cover offers any and every business insurance in cases of claims being brought against them for accidents, damages and illnesses caused during the course of carrying out their business.
Such claims can be instigated by literally anyone you come in to contact with as you go about your daily work, including not only members of the public, but also customers, sub-contractors and suppliers. The only exclusions are members of your own staff and, if you are employer, you are legally required to have Employers liability insurance, again just like any other employer in any business sector or size.
As a professional plumber, your considerations are much broader than minor property damages, trips and stumbles. That said you certainly face these whilst carrying out manual work at commercial and residential properties and whilst using tools of the trade that present added risks. Indeed your potential for general accidents and emergencies outweighs that of many other businesses.
Additionally, you deal with water supplies and water is one of the most destructive elements on the planet. You risk involvement in flooding, water damage and potential loss of water supplies that could spur massively expensive claims against you.
Whilst public liability policies are not legally obligatory like Employers liability is, Plumbers are highly recommended to err on the side of caution. The potential risks of unintentional accidents happening are immense enough to discourage savvy Plumbers from trying to cut corners by saving on annual premiums.
How is plumbers liability insurance tailor-made to suit the sector?
The many aspects of public liability policies that are applicable to your specific business can be bundled together in to a relevant package. Public liability cover does not work on the premise that one cap fits all. The convenience and efficiency of this is that policies can be more cost effective if all the elements you need are interlinked together under the one banner rather than tackled as individual entities.
The main elements of liability cover that most Plumbers have concerns about and that you probably want to investigate further when building your own policy are:-
As already discussed in the previous section, public liability cover offers you financial coverage for £2million, £5million or £10million indemnity, plus legal expenses, for successful claims against you for damages, injuries or illnesses caused to members of the public or anyone else who is not employed by you.
Offers you £10million indemnity cover, plus legal expenses, for successful claims against you for similar reasons to public liability claims instigated by your own employees rather than third party concerns.
Products Liability – offers you indemnity cover, plus legal expenses for successful claims against you for accidents and damages caused by products you supply and sell to your customers.
This element of liability insurance works in a different way to the others. It does not offer you indemnity cover and legal expense coverage for successful claims brought against. It does offer you the opportunity to claim back monies to replace damaged, lost or stolen equipment and tools. In effect, it is about giving back to you rather than taking from you in simplistic terms.
Another aspect of liability cover that it might be prudent for you to think about including in your policy is Commercial Vehicle Insurance or Motor Fleet Insurance if you have a series of vehicles that are used in order to fulfill your business commitments.
* It also warrants a mention that public liability cover is doubly important to you if you undertake work on a sub-contract basis, for example for other Tradesmen. If you fulfill plumbing work for them on an outsourced basis, self supervised and using your own equipment, parts and tools, you are solely liable for anything that goes amiss with your part of a job.
As such, Contractors ‘in the know’ demand proof of public liability certification from their Sub-Contractors prior to awarding work. This assures them that they do not run the risk of being held morally and financially responsible for mishaps caused beyond their direct control.
What sorts of incidents generate typical claims against plumbers?
You can probably answer this question better than anyone else. Working as an experienced Plumber in the field, you are bound to have witnessed incidents in the past that have caused damages or injuries or know of someone else who has been involved if you have not personally.
Risks posed by plumbing work can be very serious. If you fail to ensure that leaks are efficiently dealt with or you cause leaks to customers’ water supplies, a number of scenarios might arise.
Water can cause your customers, members of the public or team members to slip and injure themselves, sustaining either minor or more substantial injuries. Of course, slippery surfaces are only one area of concern when discussing water supplies. Minor to extensive property damages can be caused by water. Persistent drips can lead to a need for re-carpeting. All out flooding can not only do extensive damage to possessions of business or domestic customers, but force their temporary relocation.
With your sector specific experience, you could doubtlessly draw up an exhaustive risk list. Whilst incidents are unpredictable, financial safety nets need not be when you take the common sense decision to protect your livelihood adequately with a befitting public liability policy.