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Comprehensive Guide to Public Liability Insurance

Author Jon MillsJon Mills

8 min read
Better Business

Navigate the world of public liability insurance with Osome’s guide. Unravel key concepts, understand coverage and benefits, and how to choose the right policy. Safeguard your business from unexpected financial burdens with essential insights. Understand, protect, and grow your business fearlessly.

Comprehensive Guide to Public Liability Insurance

If you own a business in Singapore, it's essential to protect yourself against potential legal claims that may arise from accidents or damages caused by your business activities. One way to do this is to have public liability insurance.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll take a closer look at public liability insurance, its key concepts, coverage, benefits, and factors to consider when choosing a policy. We’ll also walk you through the claim process and procedures, as well as address premiums, costs, special considerations, and provide a conclusion to help you make an informed decision.

What Is Public Liability Insurance?

Public liability insurance is a crucial aspect of business insurance, providing protection against claims made by third parties who have suffered injuries or property damage due to your business activities. This type of insurance serves as a shield, offering financial coverage for legal costs, compensation claims, and other expenses that may arise from such incidents.

When it comes to running a business in Singapore, public liability insurance is not mandatory by law. However, it is highly recommended for all businesses, especially those that interact with the public or have a physical presence where accidents can occur. By getting public liability insurance, you are ensuring the safety and security of your business, customers, and employees.

Public liability insurance offers you the peace of mind knowing that you are protected against unexpected financial burdens resulting from legal claims. It acts as a safety net, allowing you to focus on growing your business without worrying about the potential consequences of accidents or mishaps.

Public liability insurance can be a requirement when working with certain clients or participating in events. Many businesses, especially contractors, freelancers, and event organisers, may require proof of public liability insurance before entering into any agreements or contracts. By having this insurance in place, you not only protect yourself but also open doors to new business opportunities and collaborations.

Key Concepts and Terms

Before diving into the details, let's familiarise ourselves with some key concepts and terms related to public liability insurance:

Explaining key terminology in public liability insurance policies

When you're delving into the world of public liability insurance, you'll come across several terms that might feel a bit puzzling. Here are some essential terms explained, which are crucial in understanding legislations like the work injury compensation act:

Limit of indemnity — this refers to the maximum amount that an insurer will pay out in the event of a claim. It's crucial to ensure this limit adequately covers potential claims related to your business activities.

Excess — this is the amount you, as the policyholder, will need to pay towards a claim. For example, if your policy has an excess of SGD 500 and you make a claim of SGD 2,000, the insurer will pay SGD 1,500 while you cover the remaining SGD 500.

Policy period — this refers to the time frame during which your insurance coverage is effective. It's vital to renew your policy before the end of each period to maintain continuous coverage.

Exclusion — this term describes what is not covered by your policy. Be sure to read these carefully to understand the full scope of your coverage.

Differentiating public liability insurance from other types of business insurance

There are various types of business insurance, each designed to cover specific risks. Let's take a look at how public liability insurance differs from some common types:

Employers' liability insurance — while public liability insurance covers injuries or property damage sustained by third parties due to your business activities, employers' liability insurance protects against claims from employees who suffer work-related injuries or illnesses.

Professional indemnity insurance — this covers claims arising from professional errors or negligence, such as faulty advice or services. In contrast, public liability insurance deals with physical injuries or property damage.

Product liability insurance — this insurance covers claims related to damage or injury caused by products your business supplies. Public liability insurance typically includes this, but if your business centres around selling or manufacturing products, you may require additional coverage.

Coverage and Scope

Public liability insurance in Singapore typically covers a wide range of incidents.

Types of incidents covered by public liability insurance in Singapore

Bodily injuries — if a customer, supplier, or any other third party sustains injuries on your premises or due to your business activities, your policy will cover the associated legal and compensation costs.

Property damage — if your business activities result in damage to third-party property, your policy will cover repair or replacement costs.

Legal fees — if a third party makes a claim against your business, the policy will cover the legal fees involved in defending the claim, as well as any settlement or compensation that you might have to pay.

Assessing the Extent of Coverage for Different Business Sectors

Different business sectors face varying levels of risk, and this is reflected in the extent of coverage required:

Retail and hospitality — businesses in these sectors often have high footfall, increasing the risk of accidents. Hence, a high level of coverage may be necessary.

Construction — as construction sites are inherently risky, public liability insurance is crucial. It may need to cover potential damages to the property or neighbouring properties, as well as injuries to subcontractors or visitors.

Professional services — while they may not have the same physical risks, they still require coverage for scenarios like a client tripping over a computer cord in their office.

It's important to note that public liability insurance does not cover injuries to your employees or damage to your own property; you would need separate insurance policies to cover these aspects.

Benefits of Public Liability Insurance

Having public liability insurance offers several benefits for your business:

  1. Financial protection — public liability insurance provides coverage for legal expenses and potential compensation claims, saving you from bearing the full financial burden yourself.
  2. Client peace of mind — by having public liability insurance, you demonstrate to your clients that you are a responsible business owner who takes their safety and security seriously.
  3. Enhanced business reputation — being insured can give potential clients and partners the confidence to engage with your business, knowing that they are protected in case of any mishaps.

Remember, accidents can happen at any time, and having appropriate insurance coverage is crucial to protect your business and personal finances.

Factors To Consider When Choosing a Public Liability Insurance Policy

When selecting a public liability insurance policy that best suits your needs, consider the following factors:

  • Business activities — evaluate the nature of your business and the associated risks to ensure that the policy covers all relevant activities.
  • Policy limits — check the maximum coverage provided by the policy and ensure it aligns with your potential liabilities.
  • Exclusions — understand the exclusions and limitations of the policy to avoid any surprises when making a claim.
  • Claims process — research the reputation and efficiency of the insurance company's claims process to ensure smooth and hassle-free claim settlements when needed.

Claim Process and Procedures

In the unfortunate event that you need to make a claim, the following steps outline the typical claim process:

  1. Incident report

Creating an incident report is your first step after an accident occurs. This should include a detailed description of the incident: what happened, when and where it happened, who was involved, and the immediate actions taken. It is crucial to complete this report as soon as possible when the details are still fresh. Having a structured incident reporting process in place can be immensely helpful in this step, providing a framework to capture all relevant details.

  1. Gather evidence

Next, you must collect all available evidence related to the incident. This could include photographs of the accident scene, CCTV footage, witness statements, and any other relevant documents such as emails or contracts. Be sure to preserve all physical evidence too, as it could be pivotal in determining the outcome of your claim.

  1. Contact authorities

Depending on the severity and nature of the incident, it may be necessary to report it to the appropriate authorities. In Singapore, for instance, serious workplace accidents must be reported to the Ministry of Manpower. Always ensure you are familiar with your legal obligations regarding incident reporting.

  1. Contact third parties

Notify any third parties involved in the incident, such as customers or contractors, as soon as possible. Keep communication lines open and professional, as this can help manage expectations and reduce the chances of a dispute escalating.

  1. Contact insurance provider

Contact your public liability insurance provider promptly to report the incident and seek guidance on the next steps. Your insurer will provide you with a claim form and explain what documentation they need to process your claim.

  1. Claims assessment

Once your claim and supporting documents are submitted, the insurance company will assess the claim's validity. This involves verifying the incident, evaluating the extent of the damage, and determining your policy's coverage. Cooperation is key during this process, as any delay or misinformation can prolong the assessment period.

  1. Claim approval or rejection

Following the assessment, the insurer will either approve or reject your claim. If approved, they will decide the appropriate compensation amount and arrange for payment. If rejected, they must provide a valid reason based on your policy terms.

  1. Review policy coverage

After a claim, it's a good practice to review your insurance policy's coverage. An incident might reveal areas where your coverage is insufficient or where it could be streamlined. Regular reviews ensure that your public liability insurance remains up-to-date and fit-for-purpose, providing robust protection for your business.

Premiums and Costs

The cost of public liability insurance can vary depending on the size and nature of your business, the coverage limits required, and the level of risk associated with your activities. Factors that may affect the premiums include your claims history, the level of risk management practices in place, and any additional coverage options you choose.

You should get quotes from multiple insurance providers to compare prices and coverage options. Remember to carefully review the policy terms, conditions, and exclusions before making a decision.

Special Considerations

There are certain special considerations to keep in mind when it comes to public liability insurance:

Public liability insurance for different business types and industries

Public liability insurance is crucial for businesses across all industries and sizes. Whether you're running a bustling retail store, an IT consultancy firm, or a limited liability company, being insured protects you from unexpected liabilities. However, the coverage requirements can vary depending on the type of business and the industry. For instance, construction companies may need a higher coverage due to the high-risk nature of their operations, while a freelance graphic designer might require less.

Special considerations for sole proprietors and freelancers

Sole proprietors and freelancers, while smaller operations, still face significant public liability risks. If you're considering sole proprietorship registration, it's important to know that you might work from home or a client's premises, interact with customers, or deliver products and services that could potentially cause harm. Hence, public liability insurance is still crucial. The key is to assess the unique risks involved in your specific line of work and to choose a policy that provides adequate coverage. Also, some clients might require you to have public liability insurance before starting a project, making it not just an option but often a business necessity.


Public liability insurance is an important aspect of protecting your business from unforeseen legal claims. It offers financial coverage for injuries to third parties, property damage, and legal costs. When choosing a policy, carefully consider your business activities, policy limits, and the claims process. Remember to obtain multiple quotes and review the policy regularly. By having public liability insurance, you can gain peace of mind and safeguard your business against potential financial hardships.

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