Public Liability Insurance in Australia

No matter what industry you work in, getting public liability insurance should be at the top of your checklist.

Office manager addressing his team

To all occupations and industries: Whether you're in the construction business or you run a small motel, the risk of injuring someone or damaging their property shouldn't be ignored. In just 2017 alone1, there were 30,000 liability claims reported in Australia for accidents that occurred in 2017. This doesn't even include accidents that occurred in years prior.

Luckily, public liability insurance is designed specifically to cover the above. It provides necessary financial protection for costly lawsuits e.g the cost of compensation and any legal expenses if someone sues you for being injured on your worksite.

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If you are ready to speak with a consultant about different business insurance options available, simply enter your details in the form. Keep reading if you want to learn more about the different types of cover available.
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Compare public liability insurance quotes for July 2018.

We used our engine to grab a quote estimate for an electrician with three people employed and with an annual turnover of $70,000.

Policies Annul business turnover. Annual premium Occupation
RelyOn Insurance $70,000 $477.73 Electricians Trade
AIG Insurance $70,000 $751.68 Electrical Services
QBE $70,000 $1,410.80 Electricians Commercial

Note: Your quote will vary based on your specific details. Quotes last generated on 30 July 2018.

Apply with a direct business insurance brand

Note: If you are after an insurance quote for professional indemnity insurance, you'll need to either speak to a broker or use our online engine.

What is public liability insurance?

Public liability insurance protects you if someone is injured or their property is damaged as a result of your job e.g. a passing by pedestrian could sue you for an injury as a result of your work.

It refers to damages from the physical surroundings and physical property rather than damages from services you provide. For example, it will cover you if someone slips and falls on your property, but not if you splash bleach into their eye while dyeing their hair.

What's costs are covered?

  • If approved, your public liability claim will cover what you owe the person suing you, plus your legal fees.

What is and isn't covered

Public liability insurance has a specific use. Here's what is and isn't covered:

Covers Doesn't cover
  • General negligence e.g.
    • Having someone slip on your premise
    • Injury someone with your trade equipment
  • Faulty products and physical e.g.
    • You serve food that gives people food poisoning
    • This is usually called product liability which comes under public liability insurance.
  • Negligence in your service (this is covered by professional indemnity insurance) e.g.
    • You incorrectly install a kitchen sink
  • Injuries to your employees, this is covered by:
    • Workers compensation (for injuries, illnesses)

Note: Professional indemnity insurance is offered by insurers in conjunction with public liability insurance.

Full guide: What is public liability insurance?

Do I even need public liability insurance?

After worker's compensation, public liability insurance is one of the foundational forms of cover that very few occupations should go without. It's not mandatory in most cases, but lawsuits of this sort can affect almost any type of business and put you on the hook for large sums of money.

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Does your work impact the public?
  2. Are you willing to cover the costs of a claim against you out of your own pocket?

If a public liability claim were to arise then you'll need to cover both

  1. Any compensation to the person who makes a claim against you
  2. The cost of your legals expenses e.g. hiring a defence lawyer, court fees. Public liability insurance is designed to help you cover these expenses e.g. if an accident happens at your restaurant.

Here are some situations where you could be at risk:

  • You invite customers onto your property. Supermarkets, clothing shops, pizza parlours and beauty salons are just a few businesses that rely on public foot traffic to stay in business. With foot traffic comes the potential for injury.
  • You invite anyone onto your property. Even if you're not a customer-facing business, a member of the public could still get injured on your property. For example, a courier visiting a corporate office could slip and fall on their way out of the building.
  • You take your clients out into the public. Those providing mobile services can be held responsible if they injure someone or damage something while out and about, especially if they carry equipment. Window cleaners, painters, plumbers and mobile hairdressers all need public liability insurance if they want to be protected.
  • You're in the trades. Businesses operating on temporary work sites will need public liability insurance even though they aren't inviting the public onto the site. Why? Because an innocent bystander could be injured by stray equipment. Independent contractors on site will need their own cover apart from the business that hired them.

Look no further than the claims data

A snapshot of Australia. In 20171 there were over 30,000 claims reported for accidents that occurred in 2017 and 36,000 reported for accidents that occurred in 2016. If we go back four years to 2013, we can can get a snapshot of liability incidents by state and type.

Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, 2014. Note: incidents takes into account claims reported and an estimate for claims unreported.

What industries usually need public liability cover?

As mentioned previously, almost all businesses would benefit from this protection. Here are some obvious examples:

  • Retail. Grocery stores, book shops and department stores have physical locations with lots of foot traffic, increasing the chances of someone getting injured.
  • Health and beauty. Gyms, physical therapy centres and hair salons also bring the public into their premises. Even solo professionals may need public liability if they carry equipment that could damage or injure a member of the public.
  • Hospitality. Restaurants, bars, clubs and cafes bring in lots of people while also creating a fast-paced environment where injuries are more likely.
  • The trades. Any business or independent contractor operating on a work site would benefit from public liability insurance, and in some cases are required by law or by contract to have it.
  • Entertainment. e.g. dancers, performers, event organisers, etc.
  • Real estate e.g. Landlords, Strata management.

It’s important to remember that public liability will protect business in these industries if they cause injuries or damage that are not related to the professional service provided.

Do small businesses need public liability insurance?

Regardless of business size, public liability insurance is suitable if the business has a physical premise or operates in public (such as a mobile business). Small businesses that fall into this category include:

  • Cafes
  • Clothing shops
  • Restaurants
  • Retail shops
  • Bars
  • Gyms
  • Salons
  • Mobile businesses

What's covered?

What is and isn't covered?

Public liability won't cover every type of liability. Policies will generally include cover for:

  • Legal liability. Public liability insurance provides cover when a court finds that you are legally responsible to pay damages and additional costs for:
  • Damage to someone else’s property
  • Personal injury to someone else
  • Advertising liability
  • Legal costs. If a legal liability claim is made against you, your public liability policy will cover the costs incurred in your legal defence.
  • Differing levels of cover. Many insurers will offer you a choice of the maximum level of cover, for example $5 million, $10 million or $20 million.
  • Property in your care. You may be able to take out additional cover for damage to property in your care, custody or control. Covered items include personal belongings, temporarily occupied or leased premises and vehicles in a car park.
  • Cover for other people. Public liability will not only include you but any director, business partner, executive officer, shareholder or employee.
  • Cover for other activities. Many policies will allow you to extend cover beyond your normal business activities to include the provision of sports and child care facilities, first aid and ambulance services, and the provision of food and beverages to employees and visitors.
  • Products liability. Some policies will also include products liability cover for injury or damage caused by your products.
  • Loss of goods in possession or legal control: Provides cover for loss of, loss of use of goods that are not owned by the insured but are in their possession and legal control, as though it were Damage to the Property
  • Damage to goods in possession or legal control: Provides cover for physical damage to goods that are not owned by the insured but are in their possession or legal control.
  • First aid expenses: Provides cover for expenses incurred by the insured for first aid given to other parties at the time of an injury.
Although the list of general exclusions on a public liability insurance policy differs between insurers, your claim will typically not be paid if:
  • It relates to asbestos
  • It relates to your responsibility to injured workers (workers compensation)
  • It relates to punitive damages
  • It's caused by the operation, possession or use of an aircraft or watercraft
  • It arises due to defective work done or undertaken by you
  • It relates to products liability
  • It's for damage to property you own or that is in your care, except for certain items such as vehicles and business premises
  • It arises due to the use of a vehicle
  • It relates to the cost of recalling, withdrawing, replacing or repairing products, or making a refund on the price paid for products
  • It's for certain types of advertising liability, for example a mistake in the advertised price of a product or service
  • It's for any liability or obligation that you assume under contract or agreement
  • It's caused by a deliberate act or omission by you or any employee
  • It's caused by electromagnetic fields or electromagnetic interference
  • It results from your Internet operations
  • It's for damage to computer data or programs caused by the use of any computer hardware of software
  • It's caused by a claim of defamation brought against you
  • It arises from the communication, display, distribution or publication of electronic data
  • It arises from the total or partial destruction, erasure or corruption of electronic data
  • It's caused by any breach of professional duty by you
  • It results from an act of war or terrorism

Who is covered under a public liability insurance policy?

When a business takes out a public liability policy, the policy will protect the business and people directly employees by the business, including:

  • The business itself
  • The company directors
  • The employees of the business
  • Business partners

Contract workers are usually not covered by a business policy, so either the worker or the business would have to take out extra cover if they want to be protected from that person's actions.

Comparing and buying cover

How do I compare public liability insurance policies?

We'd usually recommend using a broker to help you compare policies, because there's a lot more to business insurance than just public liability. A broker will consult with you to determine the appropriate package, and then go off and find you the best value for your money.

But if you want to go it alone, here are a few questions to ask yourself as you mull your options:

How much does public liability insurance cost?

The cost of your policy is entirely dependent on your business' unique circumstances. The insurer will analyze your business to determine the likelihood that damage or injury could occur, and they'll use that to calculate your premiums.

Depending on the nature and size of your business, the cost could be anywhere from a few hundred to tens of thousands of dollars per year.

Here's what an insurer will take into consideration when coming up with your premium:

How to get cheap cover

While you don't want to skimp on a product that could literally save you from millions of dollars in damages, there are still ways you can save some money. Here's what you can do:

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Some final questions you might have

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*The products compared on this page are chosen from a range of offers available to us and are not representative of all the products available in the market. There is no perfect order or perfect ranking system for the products we list on our Site, so we provide you with the functionality to self-select, re-order and compare products. The initial display order is influenced by a range of factors including conversion rates, product costs and commercial arrangements, so please don't interpret the listing order as an endorsement or recommendation from us. We're happy to provide you with the tools you need to make better decisions, but we'd like you to make your own decisions and compare and assess products based on your own preferences, circumstances and needs.

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19 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    SandraFebruary 8, 2018

    I have a group meeting once a month in local church hall and are required to have public liability by the Diocese……can you help?

    • Default Gravatar
      Ash MunozMarch 1, 2018

      Hi Sandra,

      Thank you for reaching out to us.

      Public Liability Insurance will give assurance to the Church that the costs of any property damage if that has occurred through the negligence of the third party using the premises will be covered. To get a sample quotation for the Public Liability Insurance for Events, you may look at this page then fill-in the form at the beginning. You may also reach out directly to other insurance provider listed in the page for their fees and rates.

      I hope this helps.

      Please do not hesitate to reach out to us again if you have additional questions.


    • Default Gravatar
      Ash MunozMarch 1, 2018

      Hi Sandra,

      Thank you for reaching out to us.

      Public Liability Insurance will give assurance to the Church that the costs of any property damage that has occurred through the negligence of the third party using the premises will be covered. To get a sample quotation for the Public Liability Insurance for Events, you may look at this page then fill-in the form at the beginning. You may also reach out directly to other insurance provider listed in the page for their fees and rates.

      I hope this helps.

      Please do not hesitate to reach out to us again if you have additional questions.


  2. Default Gravatar
    MollyJuly 12, 2017

    Hi, I have a dilemma and cannot find a satisfying solution to. I work as an Educator in my own home.
    I am registered with the gov’t and come under the Family day care Scheme. This is my 9th year and my only working hours are from 7am -9am ( 2 HOURS ONLY ) ( Mon – Fri ) aka known as before school care. No one is interested in pro -rata. They insist I pay the same as other educators who do 10 hours a day. I make a measly $15.000 per year ( Hardly rolling in it ) Is there another option for me. Can you help please?
    Thank you & kind regards

    • Default Gravatar
      JonathanJuly 16, 2017

      Hello Molly,

      Thank you for the comment. :)

      We understand that paying the same premiums with full-time counterparts can be challenging. :(

      We suggest that you consult your concern with your local insurance commission to determine if it’s required to have cover in your employment conditions and what options you have under your present circumstances.

      In case you’ll be allowed to take your own cover, you may send your details to a broker on this page so that they can give you personalized services on getting the right quote.

      Hope this helps.


  3. Default Gravatar
    TracyMay 4, 2017

    hi, my name is Tracy and I am after public liability insurance for my wedding styling, hiring service company.

    Could you please provide me with some quotes??


    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      ZubairMay 5, 2017Staff

      Hi Tracy,

      Thank you for your inquiry.

      You have contacted, a comparison and information service and not actually an insurer.

      You can receive a quote for public liability insurance by entering your details into the enquiry form on the top of this page. Once you have done so an adviser will be in touch to discuss your policy options. This service is provided free of charge and there is absolutely no obligation to sign up for a policy.


  4. Default Gravatar
    HarjeetMarch 1, 2017

    I’m looking public liability insurance for my taxi

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      ZubairMarch 2, 2017Staff

      Hi Harjeet,

      Thank you for your question. is a comparison and information service and not actually an insurer. To get a quote for public liability insurance for your taxi, you would be best to reach out to an advisor through the enquiry form who will take all your circumstances into account and offer you a range of insurance options through insurers in our panel.


  5. Default Gravatar
    BillJuly 17, 2016

    How much would it cost for Public Liability cover for the amount of 5 million

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      RichardJuly 19, 2016Staff

      Hi Bill,

      Thanks for your question. is comparison service and not an insurer. To speak with an advisor about getting a quote, please complete the quote form above and a broker will be in touch with your personalised quote.

      All the best,

  6. Default Gravatar
    RICKMay 24, 2016

    Need quote on 10 million public liability insurance.

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      RichardMay 24, 2016Staff

      Hi Rick,

      Thanks for your question. is a comparison service. To speak with an advisor about getting a quote, please complete the contact form above.

      I hope this was helpful,

  7. Default Gravatar
    NickJune 21, 2015

    My band of 5 members are willing to play for no cost at a yearly street parade as a once off event but require 10k of public liability insurance. How much is it for a once off event

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      RichardJune 22, 2015Staff

      Hi Nick,

      Thanks for your question. is a comparison service and not an insurer. However, if you would like to get a quote from the providers in our panel, please enter you details into the contact form at the top.

      I hope this was helpful,

  8. Default Gravatar
    arnoldMarch 27, 2015

    I am a part time mobile disco DJ that provides Lights and sounds to events. Yearly income would only be around $1500-$2000. I can’t seem to find a insurance for DJ’s so I am not sure what the cost is. Some venues requires public liability insurance and most don’t.
    Since DJ work is mostly on and off, can I get insurance per event ie if venue requires it. like when you getting a travel insurance when you are only insured for a limited period of time. Also, do you need to have an ABN number to get insured??


    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      RichardMarch 30, 2015Staff

      Hi Arnold,

      Thanks for your question. Unfortunately, is a comparison service and not an insurer. However, if you would like to speak with one of our brokers about the options available to you, please enter your details into the contact form above.

      I hope this was helpful,

  9. Default Gravatar
    govindFebruary 5, 2015

    please could you advise how to go about having a public liability and also covering product worth about $ 7000
    will be stored in a locked at a farming expo for 3 x days (nights)
    And costs if you could

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      WilliamFebruary 5, 2015Staff

      Hi Govind,

      Thank you for your enquiry regarding public and product liability cover. If you would like to receive a quote for cover and begin your application, you can enter your details on the form on the business insurance page. An insurance consultant will be in touch to discuss different options and provide you with a quote.

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