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Whether you’re a Michelin-starred chef or an independent deli owner, you face kitchen-related risks every day. Food poisoning, customer injuries, missing equipment – they can all lead to expensive compensation costs and legal fees.

That’s why it’s important to consider taking out catering insurance, which can help cover legal and compensation fees. It can help protect your business from costly mishaps that might otherwise drain your resources.

What is catering insurance?

There is no one-size-fits-all type of catering insurance. In reality, it’s an entire recipe book of individual insurance products that can help protect different aspects of your business and your customers from injuries, damages, lost equipment, and claims for illness after customers have consumed your food or drink.

Employers’ liability insurance is legally required if you employ anyone based in the UK who isn’t a close family member. If an employee gets injured or becomes ill while working for you, this insurance can help cover the subsequent legal fees and compensation costs.

While not required by law, public liability insurance is an important policy to consider for caterers. It provides financial protection should your business activities lead to a member of the public being injured or killed, or if it results in their property being damaged or lost.

For caterers, product liability insurance could also help to cover claims made in the event that your food causes illness – for example, if someone has an allergic reaction to something you’ve cooked or they get food poisoning because ingredients were not stored at the right temperature. Insurers may lump both public and liability insurance products together in one policy.

If you own your catering premises, then you might also want to consider business building and contents insurance, which can help cover the cost of building repairs and replacing contents. For example, if an electrical fault in your kitchen caused a fire that put you out of action, commercial building insurance could help to cover the cost of a refurbishment.

Caterers might also want to consider stock insurance, which can provide compensation if your stock – your ingredients, for example – is lost, damaged or stolen. Tools insurance can provide similar protection in relation to your specialist equipment – for example, if your chef’s knives or professional food mixer were accidentally damaged or stolen.

You might also consider personal accident insurance, which can provide compensation in the event that you are injured, or fall ill, leaving you unable to work. It can also provide compensation to your beneficiaries in the event of your death, both at work and elsewhere. For example, imagine you drop a pan of boiling water on to your foot. The resulting injury might put you out of action for a time – personal accident cover could provide compensation to keep your finances in order while you recover.

Think of these policies as ingredients – you can tweak them and use different combinations to suit your specific needs.

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Do I need catering insurance?

If you employ anyone in the UK who isn’t a close family member, then you’re legally required to have employer’s liability insurance.

However, caterers may also want to opt for public liability insurance. This type of insurance provides financial protection if a member of the public becomes ill, or is injured or killed, or their property is lost or damaged, as a result of your work. In the food industry, there may be a risk of causing allergic reaction or even food poisoning – these could potentially be covered by public and product liability insurance.

Only you can say exactly what insurance your catering business needs – most providers will allow you to pick and choose the most suitable products.

» MORE: What is business liability insurance?

What does catering insurance cover?

As well as public and product liability insurance, and employers’ liability insurance, catering insurance policies may also include:

  • equipment insurance
  • personal accident insurance
  • legal expenses insurance
  • stock insurance
  • business interruption insurance
  • business buildings and contents insurance

Your catering insurance package may not include all of the products listed above – most providers will allow you to pick and choose the policies best suited to your business.

» MORE: What is business interruption insurance?

What isn’t usually covered by catering insurance?

As we said, there is no one-size-fits all catering insurance. Instead, you can tweak your insurance policy to help cover different areas of your business. Therefore, what isn’t covered may be dictated by what you choose not to cover.

However, there will be exclusions in many insurance policies to be aware of. For example, general wear and tear is rarely covered by tools or equipment insurance.

Likewise, business insurance policies do not generally include vehicle insurance. If you use a van for work, to transport food or equipment, for example, then you’ll need to consider a separate business car insurance or van insurance policy.

How much does catering insurance cost?

No two policies are exactly the same. That’s because the overall cost of your catering insurance depends on different factors, such as the number of products you take out, the level of cover you need from each option and how many employees you have.

For example, a single caterer working alone in a home kitchen could expect a different monthly premium than a team of caterers working from a commercial kitchen.

How to choose the right catering insurance policy

With so many options, picking the right catering insurance can feel tricky. You can use the comparison tool on this page to generate a quote for catering insurance that matches your needs.

Catering insurance FAQs

Do you need insurance for catering?

Employers’ liability insurance is legally required if you employ staff in the UK who are not immediate family. Without it, you may face fines of £2,500 per day.

For better protection against the unexpected, most caterers might also want to consider public and product liability insurance to protect against incidents involving members of the public and against food-related claims.

Do you need insurance to serve food?

If you employ staff to serve your food, then you’re legally obliged to take out employers’ liability insurance.

Many caterers will also choose to opt for public liability insurance and product liability insurance to better protect themselves against legal claims from members of the public who are injured, become ill or die as a result of their business activities.

Is food poisoning covered by insurance?

Some insurers consider food poisoning technically as an ‘injury’, which would be covered by public liability insurance, while others cover it under product liability insurance or in a combined policy. Check your catering insurance quotes carefully to make sure food poisoning is included. While extremely unfortunate, food poisoning can be due to different factors out of your control.

About the author

Dan Barraclough
Dan is an experienced writer of B2B and B2C content, having written for start-ups, small businesses and household name brands. His specialist topics include finance, insurance and business energy. Read more
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