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Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been in the industry for years, you may want to think about taking out plumbers’ insurance.

Plumbers’ public liability insurance can cover you if there’s an accident at work and someone gets injured, or if you damage someone else’s property. If you make a mistake and your work isn’t watertight, you may also be covered for negligence claims if professional indemnity cover is part of your policy.

The insurance you need as a plumber will differ depending on how your business operates, so it’s worth remembering that plumbers’ insurance is not a one-size-fits-all insurance policy. Rather, it’s a term used for a flexible package of cover that can be tailored to fit the needs of your business. You can choose which policies are included and only pay for the cover you want.

What is plumbers' insurance?

Plumbers’ insurance is a catch-all term for several insurance policies that you may need as a professional in the plumbing industry. Usually it includes plumbers’ public liability insurance, plus additional cover options.

Public liability insurance covers you for harm to members of the public or damage to their property while you are working. For example, if a client tripped over a stray pipe and injured themselves while you were fixing their sink. Public liability insurance can help cover your legal fees and compensation you may have to pay.

It’s not a legal requirement to have public liability insurance, but you should consider whether you would be able to stump up the cash to pay legal fees and compensation if someone did make a claim against you.

What’s more, some clients may request evidence that you have public liability insurance before working with you.

» COMPARE: Public liability insurance

If you’ve given a client advice and something goes wrong as a result, they may make a legal case against you. Professional indemnity insurance can cover your legal fees as well as the compensation costs you may have to pay out.

Insurers can also offer a tools and equipment policy that covers the cost of replacing your equipment in the event of damage, loss or theft. You may have to pay extra to cover your tools overnight, so it’s worth checking with your insurer.

If you employ anyone – except for close family members or staff working abroad – as part of your plumbing business, you are legally required to take out employers’ liability insurance with a minimum of £5 million cover. Employing people without this is illegal and could prove expensive, as you can be fined £2,500 a day if you don’t have the correct cover.

» COMPARE: Employers’ liability insurance

Personal accident insurance covers you if you suffer an injury, or even die, whether you’re at work or not. You could get a lump sum if you are injured, and it could cover loss of income if you can’t work because of your injury. If you are in a fatal accident, your next of kin could get compensation.

Personal accident cover is included in some plumbers’ insurance packages as standard, while other insurers may offer it as an add-on.

Do I need plumbers' insurance?

By law, the only policy you may need to take out as a plumber is employers’ liability insurance. If you employ someone in your business who lives in the UK and is not a member of your family, you must have a policy that provides at least £5 million of cover.

That said, there are many scenarios in which you may benefit from having extra cover. You may consider taking out other insurance policies even if they’re not legally required for your business.

For example, if you are working in a client’s home and cause damage to their bathroom while installing their shower, plumbers’ public liability insurance would cover the cost of having the damage repaired.

If you made a mistake while installing the shower, your client would expect you to return and fix it for free. Professional indemnity insurance could pay for the cost of you fixing your work. It could also cover compensation for damage that is a direct result of your work. For example, if there was water damage that your client had to pay to fix after using a badly installed shower.

Tools and equipment insurance could cover you if your tools were stolen from your locked van while you were working on the installation. You could claim back the value of the tools to buy new ones without your business’s finances taking an unexpected hit.

Plumbers’ associations may require you to have a certain level of cover to become a member. This can include having public liability insurance and employers’ liability insurance if you are an employer.

» MORE: Do I need business insurance?

What does plumbers' insurance cover?

Plumbers’ insurance is varied and can be tailored to fit your needs. Many insurers will provide a set package of policies, with additional cover available if it applies to your business. Below, we look at what is usually covered under plumbers’ insurance, and which types of insurance you may need to add on or take out separately.

What is usually included in plumbers’ insurance?

Plumbers’ insurance packages can vary depending on your insurer, but usually include plumbers’ public liability insurance alongside some, or all, of the following:

  • professional indemnity insurance
  • employers’ liability insurance (if required)
  • personal accident insurance
  • tools and equipment insurance

If you’re taking out a package, you should check what is included to make sure the cover is appropriate for your business. It is possible to customise your package, and add-ons may be available if the cover does not fully meet your requirements.

On the other hand, many insurers will let you create a bespoke insurance package to ensure that you’re only paying for the cover your business needs.

What isn’t usually included in plumbers' insurance?

As plumbers’ insurance cover can be tailored to your business needs, what is and isn’t included is usually decided by you when you purchase a policy. You should consider which costs you could afford to pay up front if you didn’t take out cover for them.

If you choose not to take out professional indemnity insurance, for example, and then a client makes a claim against you because of advice you’ve given, you will have to foot the bill for the legal fees and any compensation they may be owed if the court rules in their favour.

You will need to take out insurance for your vehicle, if you use one for work. It is a legal requirement for your vehicle to be insured if you’re driving on UK roads. Business van insurance is not usually included in plumbers’ insurance packages, so you should look to take this out separately.

There may also be exceptions to your cover. For example, if you take out tools and equipment insurance, you may only be covered for theft or damage if you leave your tools in a secured place.

Omissions or mistakes when you take out your policy could also affect what is covered. For instance, if you underestimate the value of your tools when you get a quote, you may find that your insurer may not pay out the full value of the item if you make a claim later on.

And if you pay monthly and miss a payment, your policy could be cancelled, leaving your business without cover.

It’s important to keep to the terms of your insurance policy to ensure you are fully covered.

How much does plumbers' insurance cost?

The cost of your plumbers’ insurance can vary based on what you want to include. Many insurers provide packages that could be suitable for your business, but you can often customise plans to make sure you’re covered appropriately.

The following things may change the price of your premium:

  • the level of cover you need – for instance, public liability insurance worth £5 million may cost more than the same insurance worth £1 million
  • how many employees you have
  • the type of work you do (residential, commercial or both)
  • how long you have worked in the industry
  • where your business is located

How to choose the best plumbers' insurance policy for you

To find a plumbers’ insurance policy to suit your needs, you should first take stock of your business activity and consider the risks. You can then think about which insurance policies you may want to take out that ensure your business has appropriate cover.

Once you’ve decided the level of cover you need and which policies you want to include in your overall package, you can click through to our partner to find the best deal for your business.

» COMPARE: Plumbers’ insurance

Plumbers’ Insurance FAQs

What insurance should a plumber have?

If you’re a plumber, the only cover you legally have to have is employers’ liability insurance – if you employ someone outside your family who works in the UK. However, there are other policies that you may consider taking out to cover your work, including:

  • public liability insurance
  • professional indemnity insurance
  • personal accident insurance
  • tools and equipment insurance

This is not an exhaustive list – each business will need to buy its own specific package of policies to ensure it is adequately covered.

If you want to take out insurance today, click ‘Get a quote’ and talk to our partner to arrange a quote or talk through your options.

» MORE: Business liability insurance

What insurance does a self-employed plumber need?

As a self-employed plumber, you don’t legally need insurance to be able to work unless you also employ others. You will need employers’ liability insurance if you employ people outside your family to work in the UK.

However, it is worth considering taking out plumbers’ insurance so that you are covered if something goes wrong. You may be interested in:

  • public liability insurance – this can cover compensation for injury to others or damage to property as a result of your work
  • professional indemnity insurance – this can cover claims made for poor advice
  • tools and equipment insurance – this can cover the cost of your tools if they’re stolen
  • personal accident insurance – this can pay out if you are injured or die as a result of an accident at work or elsewhere

» MORE: Do I need insurance if I’m self-employed?

Why do plumbers need insurance?

As a plumber, you may need insurance to cover you financially if anything goes wrong. This could include damage to a client’s property or injury to others. Without insurance, you would be liable to pay your legal fees and any compensation deemed necessary if a claim made against you was upheld.

If you’re self-employed or run a small business, this could have a significant impact on your business’s finances. However, having public liability or professional indemnity insurance could protect you from these unexpected costs.

» MORE: Guide to small business insurance

How long is a plumber liable for their work?

As a plumber, you may be liable for your work for up to six years after completion. This means that a client could make a claim against your business for negligent workmanship long after you have finished the work.

If a client did make a claim against you, you would only be able to claim on your insurance for legal fees and compensation if your professional indemnity policy was still active. If you had professional indemnity insurance at the time the incident actually happened, but did not have it when the client made a claim five years later, you would have to foot the bill for any legal fees and compensation yourself.

Some plumbers may consider ‘run-off insurance’ to try to combat this. Run-off insurance can cover you for past work even if you have ceased trading or no longer have professional indemnity insurance.

If you change insurers, you may want to ensure that your new insurer will backdate your professional indemnity insurance so that you are still covered for the work you completed before the start of your new policy.

About the author

Kristina Fox
Kristina is a writer at NerdWallet. A recent graduate trading French for finance, she has experience creating content for student newspaper Cherwell and an edtech company. Read more
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