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What our Nerds say about cleaning insurance

There are multiple risks when working as a cleaner, from slippery floors and chemical products to accidental breakages and furniture stains.

And even as the most careful cleaner around, things can still go wrong from time to time. However, what you don’t want to be left with is a big bill for an honest mistake.

Cleaning insurance can help cover the compensation costs associated with such scenarios, while also paying for any legal fees you may incur.

What is cleaning insurance?

Whether you’re a domestic cleaner in someone’s home, working around their prized possessions, or part of a team in an office building surrounded by expensive equipment, the chances of a costly mistake are ever-present.

However, just because accidents happen, that doesn’t mean you should be left to foot the bill on your own. Cleaning insurance is a term used to describe a range of insurance policies that can help cover the compensation costs and legal fees that may come from someone making a claim against your cleaning business.

That’s not the only benefit of cleaning insurance. It will provide extra reassurances to your clients, create a better working environment for your employees, and help protect you against theft, loss and accidental damage to your own property.

Public liability insurance will be at the core of your cleaning insurance policy. This is designed for times when your work has caused illness or injury to a client, or damage to their property.

For comprehensive public liability insurance for cleaners, you may need to make sure you have certain extensions in place. This could include:

  • damage to property worked on
  • treatment risks for the products you use
  • loss of customers’ keys
  • failure to secure a customers’ premises
  • losses from the dishonesty of your staff

» COMPARE: Public liability insurance

Portable tools and equipment insurance meanwhile, will protect the items you need to do your job from accidental damage, loss or theft.

As for personal accident cover, if you were injured and unable to work for the medium to long term, you would be able to claim a lump sum to cover your lost income.

Self-employed cleaner insurance

If you are a self-employed cleaner working on your own, you may need to consider getting business car insurance to make sure you are properly covered on the road.

If you drive to multiple different places of work, such as your clients’ homes, then it is likely you will need class 1 business car insurance. However, you should look into the level you need to make should you have the right level of cover.

Cleaning business insurance

As a small business owner with even one non-family employee, you are legally required to take out employers’ liability insurance. This is for if a member of your staff is injured or made ill on the job.

If you have business premises you are based out of, especially if you store stock and equipment there, you may also want to look into business buildings and contents insurance. This is to cover the building and its contents from accidental damage, vandalism and theft. If you find you only need commercial property insurance, or business contents insurance, meanwhile, you can buy these policies separately.

If you are transporting cleaning equipment to various locations on the road, you might also need to take out van insurance.

Do I need cleaning insurance?

The one form of business insurance that is a legal requirement for a cleaner is employers’ liability insurance, and even then that is only if you employ non-family members. For example, if one of your members of staff slipped on a wet floor at work and broke their wrist, employers’ liability insurance would cover the costs associated with their claim.

» COMPARE: Employers’ liability insurance

It is important to stress, however, that just because other forms of insurance aren’t required, that doesn’t mean they are not worth looking into. This is especially the case with public liability insurance.

As a cleaner, there are a number of common situations where you may be relieved to have a comprehensive public liability policy in place.

Say a client has an allergic reaction to a cleaning product you have used. Or they trip over your cleaning equipment and fracture their arm. In both cases, public liability insurance would cover the legal fees and compensation costs of a claim made against you.

Similarly, as long as you had the right level of cover, if you were cleaning in an office and split cleaning fluid on to a computer, your public liability insurance would pay for the associated costs.

And if your public liability policy included ‘losses from dishonesty’, your financial costs would be covered if one of your employees stole an item from your customer.

Meanwhile, if your cleaning equipment was stolen from your car while you were inside a client’s home, portable tools and equipment insurance would pay for them to be replaced.

Perhaps most seriously, if you are a window cleaner and fell from your ladder, sustaining injuries that meant you could not work for a few months, your personal accident insurance would pay out a lump sum to cover your lost income.

What does cleaning insurance cover?

Below we detail what policies are typically included in cleaning insurance, what types of cleaning insurers tend to cover, and what might not be included in your package.

What is usually included in cleaners’ insurance?

Most cleaning insurance packages will likely include a combination of the following policies:

  • public liability insurance
  • employers’ liability insurance
  • tools and equipment insurance
  • personal accident insurance

Depending on the insurer, and your business, each of these policies may need additional extensions to fully cover your range of work.

What types of cleaners can be insured?

The types of cleaning covered can vary greatly from insurer to insurer, so you need to make sure you find one that best suits the specifics of your business.

Different classes of cleaning include, but are not limited to:

  • domestic household cleaners
  • cleaning agencies and companies
  • office and commercial cleaners
  • carpet cleaners
  • curtain cleaners
  • floor cleaners
  • window cleaners

What is usually not included in cleaners’ insurance?

What is or is not included in your cleaning insurance is largely down to what you decide to pay for. That is why you should carefully consider the range and level of cover you want.

For example, if your policy includes public liability insurance, but you opt not to take out the ‘damage to property worked on’ extension required by your insurer, you would not be able to make a claim if you ruined the carpet you were actively cleaning.

Other common situations that may not be covered by your insurance include general wear and tear to your tools and equipment, and claims of theft where the proper security measures weren’t followed.

How much does cleaning insurance cost?

The price of cleaning insurance will vary depending on the specifics of your own cleaning business. This may include:

  • the number of policies you choose to take out
  • the level of cover you want from each policy
  • your number of employees
  • the location of your business
  • the years of experience you have as a cleaner
  • whether you are self-employed or a limited company

How to choose the best cleaners insurance policy for you

Cleaning businesses come in different shapes and sizes – so too do cleaning insurance policies. What a self-employed cleaner who works on their own might need is different to a business owner employing multiple cleaners.

You should weigh up the specific risks associated with your business, including the types of cleaning activities you would want to be covered.

Then, you can use our cleaning insurance comparison tool to help find the right deal for your business.

Cleaning Insurance FAQs

What insurance should a cleaner have?

The one type of insurance you are legally required to have as a cleaner is employers’ liability insurance. And that is only if you employ non-family members.

However, to make sure you are properly covered for most eventualities, you should think about taking out the following policies:

  • public liability insurance
  • portable tools and equipment insurance
  • personal accident insurance

» COMPARE: Public liability insurance

What insurance do you need for a cleaning business?

If you are setting up your own cleaning business, you might want to consider getting public liability insurance, portable tools and equipment insurance, and personal accident insurance.

If your business employs other people who aren’t members of your family, you will have to take out employers’ liability insurance.

And if you drive to multiple locations, you may need to look into business car insurance.

What insurance do I need to clean people’s houses?

If you are cleaning houses on your own, and do not employ anyone else alongside you, you will not need employers’ liability insurance.

However, it might be worth looking into public liability insurance, portable tools and equipment insurance, and personal accident cover.

You may also need to make changes to your car insurance if you are driving to multiple places of work.

Do I need employers’ liability insurance to hire a cleaner?

Unless you are hiring a permanent role, such as a housekeeper or cleaning staff, you would not need to take out employers’ liability insurance for an outside cleaner or agency coming to your home or place of work.

Is cleaning insurance the same as business insurance?

Broadly speaking, cleaning insurance is the same as business insurance. Both are umbrella terms describing the range of insurance policies a business might need to consider.

However, cleaning insurance will only detail the policies needed by cleaners, while business insurance covers every policy, whether they are recommended for a cleaner or not.

What kind of excess should I expect?

The size of your insurance policy’s excess – that is, the amount you agree to pay should you make a claim on the policy– will be determined by a number of factors. These include:

  • the policy you are claiming on
  • the size of your insurer’s compulsory excess
  • whether you want to pay any voluntary excess (doing so can reduce your premium)

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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