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Published 21 April 2023

Public Liability Insurance for Events and What it Covers

Hosting an event can be a big moment for your business. Even if you try your best to make sure nothing goes wrong, accidents can unfortunately happen.

While you might decide that your business doesn’t need to have continuous public liability cover, there might be one-off situations where you feel like it is necessary.

For example, you could be running a conference, arranging a gig, putting on a charity sports event, or just holding a business dinner.

Whether you are the host, or just attending as a business, you may need to look into public liability insurance for events.

What is public liability insurance for events?

Public liability insurance for events covers legal fees and compensation costs if a third party is injured or dies, or their property is lost or damaged, due to your business activities. 

Business activities might lead to anything from someone slipping on a wet floor at a concert hall to an injury during a sports event.

Despite the name, public liability insurance is just as applicable at a business event as it is at a gig or football game that the general public attends.  

» MORE: Everything you need to know about public liability insurance

Do I need public liability insurance for an event?

Public liability insurance for events isn’t a legal requirement, but you may want it as protection in case someone makes a claim against you. Even the most carefully organised event, following the strictest of health and safety guidelines, can carry the risk of injury or property damage.

Public liability insurance could at least give you the peace of mind that, if something goes wrong, the injured party could be compensated without you or your business suffering financially (except for paying the excess fee that you agree to when you buy insurance).

Depending on the policy, it could also include protection for event cancellation, theft of money, loss or damage to equipment in transit and even adverse weather, as add-ons. 

There may be times when it might be compulsory for you to take out public liability insurance. For example:

  • The venue may insist on it as a part of its hiring conditions.
  • The client you are working for may demand it as part of the contract.
  • Government or local authority events may require it.

If you already have public liability insurance, don’t assume you are covered for events. You will need to make sure its terms cover either hosting, or attending, an event.

» MORE: Do I need public liability insurance?

Do I need public liability insurance to exhibit at an event?

If you are a stallholder or exhibitor at an event that someone else has organised, you may need your own public liability insurance. So make sure you check with the organiser ahead of time.

This would then cover you if your business activities caused an injury or property damage – for example, if you spilled a cup of coffee that scalded a visitor browsing your craft stall.

Does public liability insurance cover employees at events?

A public liability insurance policy can sometimes include employers’ liability as standard or as an optional extra, but they protect different risks and are not the same thing.

If you employ anyone at an event that isn’t close family, you need to have employers’ liability insurance by law.  And if your business is incorporated as a limited company, you will still need employers’ liability insurance even if you employ family members. It includes temporary staff, volunteers, marshals and referees. This protects your business if an employee is injured or falls ill due to your business activities and they make a claim for compensation against you. It usually also covers compensation to their beneficiaries if an employee dies as a result of their work, though it’s worth checking if this is included.

» MORE: Employers’ liability explained

When should I get public liability insurance for an event?

The work that goes into hosting an event starts long before the event itself, and so do the risks attached.

While you might think you just need public liability insurance on the date of the event, it is generally worth securing it as early as possible. This is so you can also be covered for the planning and organisation stages as well.

Can I get public liability insurance for one day?

You don’t have to commit to long-term public liability cover if you only need it for a one-day event. Instead, you can secure one-off public liability insurance for events, as well as short-term policies if you want to cover a series of occasions.

How much does public liability insurance for events cost?

As with every type of business insurance, the cost of public liability insurance for events depends on a few factors, including:

  • the level of cover you want (this could be dictated by the venue or client)
  • how long you want the policy to last
  • the type of event you are organising
  • the size of the event, and how many people will be there
  • the location of the event

» MORE: How much is public liability insurance?

To get the best deal for your business, it makes sense to compare the premiums and features on offer from a range of insurers.

Image source: Getty Images

About the Authors

Connor Campbell

Connor is a lead 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…

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Holly Bennett

Holly champions clear, jargon-free writing. She’s been creating finance content for leading organisations for over 10 years.

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