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What our Nerds say about carpenters' Insurance

Do you know what cuts more than the teeth of a saw? The financial costs of a claim made against you or your business.

Whether you’re a carpenter with your own shop, or a joiner working as a sole trader, carpenters’ insurance can cover you for a range of situations, be that injury, illness, theft or accusations of negligence.

It’s important to know that carpenters’ insurance isn’t one form of insurance itself, but an umbrella for the various policies you as a professional might need. This means you can format your package to suit your specific business.

What is carpenters’ insurance?

There is more at risk when working as a carpenter than a splinter or two. Spiky nails, sharp saws and the tangled wires of an electric drill all present hazards that can affect not only you, but your employees, clients, and any other third party that might be nearby.

And with this heightened chance of injury comes a greater risk of a claim being made against your business. But you don’t have to work without protection. Carpenters’ insurance can help cover the legal fees and compensation costs if such a situation were to arise.

Due to the hazards mentioned above, the core of any comprehensive carpenters’ insurance package is public liability insurance. It gives you cover in case a member of the public, including your customers, is injured or has their property damaged because of your business activities.

» COMPARE: Public liability insurance

Product liability insurance, meanwhile, covers you if someone is injured or has their property damaged, by either a product you have sold them or work you have done for them once it has been completed.

Part of your job as a carpenter may be to advise clients, or provide them with designs and specifications. If your client is unhappy with the work you have done, or it causes them to suffer a financial loss, professional indemnity insurance can help with the costs of a claim made against you.

» COMPARE: Professional indemnity insurance

As a carpenter, your tools are your livelihood. That’s why another huge consideration is tools and equipment insurance. This can help replace your tools if they are lost, stolen or accidentally damaged.

And you will legally be required to have employers’ liability insurance if you employ anyone that isn’t a family member or based abroad. This is to cover the costs related to an employee suffering an injury, or falling ill, due to the work they do for you.

Other types of insurance for carpenters to consider include personal accident cover, commercial building insurance, business contents insurance, stock insurance, and the right level of business car insurance.

Do I need carpenters’ insurance?

The one legal requirement when it comes to carpenters’ insurance is employers’ liability insurance, and that’s only if you have employees in the UK who are not members of your family. You’ll need a policy worth at least £5 million from an authorised insurer, and you can be fined up to £2,500 a day if you fail to do so.

It’s not hard to come up with a situation where it would apply, either. For instance, all it would take is an employee slicing their hand while using an electric saw for the policy to kick in.

» COMPARE: Employers’ liability insurance

Just because an insurance policy isn’t legally required, doesn’t mean it isn’t worth considering, and it could even prove to be the best choice for your business.

There are a number of scenarios where public liability insurance would come in handy. For example, you damage a client’s paintwork while trying to put up some shelves. Or burst a pipe when installing their kitchen. Or even accidentally cause the client to trip and break their wrist by leaving your equipment scattered on the floor. In each situation, your public liability policy would pay for the associated costs of a claim made against you.

Once you’ve left the worksite, that doesn’t mean you’re out of the woods. Say the wall-mounted bookcase you have installed collapses, tearing off the plasterwork. Or, worse, it falls on to your client, injuring them in the process. Product liability insurance would help with the legal fees and compensation costs you may incur.

Similarly, if you’ve drawn up a design for a fitted wardrobe that, once built, your client isn’t happy with, professional indemnity insurance can cover the costs of a claim.

Tool insurance, meanwhile, can help avoid a major delay if something happens to your equipment. For example, if your power tools are stolen from your workshop, which was properly locked up overnight, tool insurance can pay for replacements.

And don’t forget personal accident insurance, which would offer compensation if you were permanently disabled and couldn’t work or were fatally injured, because of an accident.

» MORE: Do I need business insurance?

Types of insurance for carpenters

Although what falls under carpenters' insurance can vary from provider to provider, it will typically include:

  • public liability insurance
  • product liability insurance
  • professional indemnity insurance
  • tools and equipment insurance
  • employers’ liability insurance
  • personal accident cover

This isn’t an exhaustive list. For example, you may also want to add business car insurance, commercial building insurance, or stock insurance, depending on the specifics of your business.

These are many of the same policies that would apply to other trades, such as builders, plumbers and electricians.

» COMPARE: Tradesman insurance

What is usually not included in carpenters’ insurance?

What is and isn’t included in your carpenters’ insurance package is up to you. That’s why it is important to know what you need. For example, if you choose not to opt for product liability insurance, and a client injures their back after a chair you built breaks, you won’t be covered.

Given the prominence of tool and equipment insurance in a typical carpenters’ insurance package, it is good to know what you won’t be covered for. General wear and tear isn’t included, nor is mechanical or electrical breakdown.

If you are making a claim related to theft, meanwhile, your insurance may be void if you failed to follow the correct security procedures, such as securely locking up your premises.

How much does carpenters' insurance cost?

Thanks to how flexible carpenters’ insurance can be, the cost can vary greatly from business to business. The following may affect the price of your premium:

  • how many policies you choose to take out
  • the level of coverage you want from each policy
  • how many employees you have
  • where your business is located
  • how many years of experience you have as a carpenter
  • whether you are self-employed or a limited company
  • whether you work on domestic or commercial jobs, or both

How to choose the best carpenters’ insurance policy for you

To make sure you are covered correctly and that you aren’t paying for a bunch of policies you don’t need, you should carefully consider the risks associated with your own individual carpentry business. What is recommended for one might not be for another, and it is good to have an idea of what you need before getting a quote.

Once you know what you are after, you can use our carpenters’ insurance comparison tool to help find the right deal for your business.

Click 'start your quote' and follow the step-by-step process.

Carpenters' Insurance FAQs

What insurance should a carpenter have?

Legally, the only insurance you need as a carpenter is employers’ liability insurance. And that is specifically if you have employees that aren’t family members or based abroad.

However, it is recommended that carpenters also consider the following types of insurance, to make sure their business is best covered:

  • public liability insurance
  • product liability insurance
  • professional indemnity insurance
  • tools and equipment insurance

If you have your own workshop, you may also want to look into business buildings and contents insurance, which can be purchased separately or together.

What insurance does a self-employed carpenter need?

If you are self-employed and do not employ anyone else, then legally you don’t need any form of carpenters’ insurance.

But that doesn’t mean you wouldn’t benefit from having public liability insurance, product liability insurance, professional indemnity insurance and tools insurance as part of your carpenters’ insurance package.

Why do carpenters need insurance?

Carpenters work with customers who could get hurt, doing work that can cause damage, using (often expensive) tools that can be dangerous. This means there are numerous scenarios which could lead to a claim being made against your business.

The last thing you want is to be lumbered with the compensation costs and legal fees such a claim might lead to. Carpenters’ insurance can help cover those costs, while signalling to your clients that you are a professional who takes the risks of their trade seriously.

What car insurance do I need as a carpenter?

If you are frequently driving to different locations for work, you might need to take out class 1 business car insurance. If you drive a van to transport your equipment, you will need Own Goods van insurance.

About the author

Connor Campbell
Connor is a writer and spokesperson for NerdWallet. Previously at Spreadex, his market commentary has been quoted in the likes of the BBC, The Guardian, Evening Standard, Reuters and The Independent. Read more
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