Public Liability Insurance

What is Public Liability Insurance?

Public liability insurance is designed for professionals who interact with customers or members of the public. It helps protect against claims of personal injury or property damage that a third party suffers (or claims to have suffered) as a result of your business operations.

In real terms, this means that if someone slips and falls on your business premises, or their property is damaged while you’re providing a service, they may take legal action against you or your business to recover their loss. Public liability insurance is designed to help protect your business depending on the policy you take out, covers incidents that occur in your workplace, as well as incidents at other locations.

Public liability insurance only covers claims made by external parties, not those made by your own employees. If you work with clients or customers, or in public spaces, it’s important to protect your business against claims of damage or injury. That’s why we often include public liability insurance in our industry-specific Business Insurance packages. These packages are tailored to meet the unique requirements of your industry. As well as public liability insurance, they may also include product liability insurance and professional indemnity insurance cover.

Who needs Public Liability Insurance?

Public liability insurance is recommended for any business that interacts in public places or has members of the public visit their premises. In every line of work, there’s always the potential for something to go wrong – and accidents do happen.

Claims of personal injury or property damage can be incredibly expensive. Even if you’re not at fault, you may still incur considerable legal costs while defending a claim.

Public liability insurance can help safeguard your business by providing cover against such claims, including legal defence costs. So you can confidently go about your work, knowing your business has a level of protection if something goes wrong.

Why do I need Public Liability Insurance?

With Australia having been coined the second most litigious society in the world after the US, the importance of Public Liability insurance is undeniable. Nowadays, it’s very easy for people to access information about their legal rights, making businesses more susceptible to having claims of third party damage or injury brought against them. If you have clients or other members of the public visiting you on your business premises, there is always a risk they may slip and fall whilst there, or have their property damaged as a result of your service. Whilst these sorts of incidents may seem rare, if they do happen, by the time you add up the cost of legal fees to defend yourself or your business, and any potential damages you must pay, the cost can easily run into the tens of thousands of dollars. This is why public liability Insurance is so crucial. It may not be mandatory for certain professions, but as a small business owner, you may not have that kind of cash lying around, so a potential negligence or injury claim could be enough to make you go out of business.

Here are some claims examples of Aon clients with Professional Indemnity Insurance  to demonstrate how a PI policy works:

Claim Story: Margaret*

Margaret* was walking down the escalators at a shopping centre, when she slipped and fell. She suffered severe cuts as a result of the fall, as well as a fracture. It had been raining that day, and while there were warning signs, and non-slip mats throughout the centre, the floor was still wet due to customers coming in. Due to the injuries suffered by Margaret, she took legal action against the centre as she believed her injuries were due to the shopping centre’s negligence.

The shopping centre was required to pay Margaret compensation, as they were held legally liable for her injuries. Public Liability Insurance held by the shopping centre covered the cost of legal representation for the owners of the shopping centre, as well as the compensation required to be paid to Margaret.

Claim Story: Debbie*

Debbie* was an elderly woman who enjoyed travelling. She rented a holiday home managed by Grant*. As she sat on a plastic chair on the balcony, the chair broke under her weight. Debbie suffered serious injuries as a result of this fall. She took legal action against Grant, as well as the owner of the property as she believed they were negligent in keeping a defective chair at the holiday apartment. Grant’s Public Liability Insurance arranged through Aon was able to help cover the legal fees he incurred in defending himself, as well as the compensation he was required to pay Debbie.

Don’t just insure, be sure

Business insurance can be complicated. What you think you’re paying for isn’t always what you get. As an insurance specialist, Aon helps you find a policy customised for the common risk of your industry so you’re more confident that you’ve found the right type of insurance for your business. 

Why Aon for Public Liability Insurance?

Don't just insure, be sure.

Right type of cover

  • Aon arranges Insurance tailored to protect against common risks in your industry
  • We help you to understand how your policy protects against the common risks 
  • Competitive premiums thanks to Aon’s scale and influence.

Specialist support

  • A team of experienced  insurance specialists to help you at every step
  • We help you make claims and advocate on your behalf
  • Australian based teams. 

Easy to manage

  • Quotes online or over the phone on 1300 836 028
  • Options to take out premium funding loans to pay monthly. Fees and charges will apply 
  • Adjust your policy any time. Terms and conditions may apply
  • Easy renewal management
  • Online requests for certificates of insurance.

Rely on Aon’s industry experience for your Public Liability Insurance

If you’re a small business owner, your job is anything but small. When it comes to protecting your business, it helps to have an expert on your side. At Aon, we want you to feel confident you’ve made a smart decision for your business insurance needs.

As SME insurance specialists, we understand the risks that businesses like yours face and how to insure against them. We know insurance policies and understand that the detail of your policy wording is critical to providing the type of cover your small business needs. That’s why we help you by arranging policies customised for the common risks of your industry.

You can compare covers and take out your policy online. Or you can speak with our team of Australian-based SME insurance experts, who are here to support you every step of the way. We’ll give you access to the relevant information required to help you understand the cover options available to you so you can feel more informed about your choice of insurance.

What does Public Liability Insurance typically cover?

Legal Liability
Damages you’re legally responsible to pay, as decided by a court, as well as the other party’s costs, for damage to someone’s property and personal injury to a third party.
Legal costs
Your legal costs are covered, even if a court decides you’re not responsible for the allegation.

Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some questions commonly asked by clients.
Is Public Liability Insurance mandatory?
Public Liability Insurance may be a necessary requirement before licences for certain trades are issued. It is one of the most basic insurance products needed by businesses. In our opinion, if your work interacts with members of the public in any way, or if you have a physical business site where members of the public can attend, then public liability insurance is highly recommended. 
What is the difference between Professional Indemnity insurance and Public Liability insurance?
Professional indemnity insurance helps provide cover for claims made against your business by third parties claiming that your specialist services or advice caused them financial loss. Public liability insurance helps you to pay the costs associated with a third party injuring themselves or damaging their property while on your premises, or due to using products that you offer.
Who may not need Public Liability Insurance?
If you work from home, and only perform your work online (without any physical interaction with members of the public), then you may not need public liability insurance.
Explore more FAQs

Do I need Public Liability Insurance if I am self-employed?
Public liability insurance is highly recommended if you’re self-employed, and have a physical business premises where clients or other members of the public can visit you. Even if you don’t have clients visiting you on your premises, you may also require it if you have any form of contact with members of the public.

Do I need Public Liability Insurance if I’m an employee?
If you’re an employee of an organisation and your employer has public liability insurance in place, you may not need to take out your own policy, however it’s always a good idea to ask your employer to check their insurance policy to ensure it is current, and covers actions of employees.

Is Public Liability Insurance tax-deductible?
According to the Australian Taxation Office, you may be able to claim the cost of any premiums you pay for insurance against the loss of your income. You should always speak to your accountant to check your eligibility to claim expenses.

Does Public Liability Insurance cover employees?
If an employee suffers an injury while working for your business, public liability insurance will not provide any coverage for this. If your business employs staff, you will need to take out Workers’ Compensation to cover staff members.

I’ve taken out Business Insurance, do I need Public Lability Insurance as well?
Public liability insurance can be taken out as a standalone policy, or as part of a business insurance policy. If you’ve selected public liability when taking out your business insurance policy, then you don’t need to take out another public liability policy separately.

What is the difference between Public Liability and Product Liability?
Public liability insurance covers your legal liability caused directly by your business activities or on your business premises during the course of your work. Product liability insurance covers loss or damage caused by products your business sells. For example, if you operate a catering business, and food you serve makes someone sick, you could be held liable to pay damages and the cost of their treatment. If you are a professional providing a service, product liability may not be applicable to you. Instead, if a client alleged your service or advice caused them financial loss or injury, you would need professional indemnity insurance to help cover this.

What does Public Liability insurance not cover?
As with all types of insurance, there are certain exclusions which apply under public liability insurance. You should thoroughly read your Policy Wording and speak to your broker to understand them. Examples of standard exclusions include claims relating to:

  • Punitive damages which a court decides to be paid on top of compensation
  • Damage to property you own or that is in your care
  • A cyber attack experienced by your business
  • Allegations of defamation brought against you.

I’m a tradie, can I arrange Public Liability Insurance through Aon?
If you’re a builder, tradie or subcontractor, Aon can arrange public liability insurance as part of our joint venture with Housing Institute of Australia – click here to visit the HIAIS website.

As a professional, what other types of insurance might I need?
If you are a small business owner operating a professional practice, there are a few types of insurance you may need. Consider your objectives and financial situation when deciding which policies you take out. Other types of insurances available to small business owners include:

  • Professional indemnity which helps protect you against claims made by clients alleging they suffered injury or financial loss due to a service you provided.
  • Business insurance which covers your business premises and contents against events such as fire, theft or other listed events. Public liability insurance can also be purchased as part of a business insurance policy.
  • Cyber insurance is also available for certain professions, which is designed to protect businesses from a range of internet based risks.
What’s typically not covered under Public Liability Insurance? 
Most insurance policies have events or circumstances which are not intended to be covered, these are commonly referred to as exclusions. Some exclusions are industry standard, meaning that similar exclusions are applied to a particular policy type, across the insurance market. . For example, damage caused deliberately and knowingly by you or your business is usually not covered by any insurance policy. Damage caused by intentional wrongdoing or your criminal activity is also not generally covered by any insurance policy. 
Some events are not covered by Public Liability Insurance simply because these risks are intended to be covered under other types of insurance policies. For example, a client taking legal action against you as a result of your professional advice or service will not be covered by Public Liability Insurance. These claims are intended to be covered by a Professional Indemnity insurance policy. Another example may be your liability for losses suffered by third parties or clients due to your business suffering a cyber-attack, this  event is also not likely to be covered by a Public Liability Insurance policy but may be covered by a Cyber Insurance policy instead. 


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