Public Liability Insurance in Australia

Does your business work with customers in person? If so, you'll need public liability insurance.

Public liability insurance offers financial protection for you and your business if you are found legally responsible for personal injury to a third party or damage to their property. You're covered for any costly legal fees as well as damages or injuries that you have caused. A public liability insurance policy can extend cover to members of your business including staff, employees, directors and partners.

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Business Liability Insurance
Business Liability Insurance
Tailored made cover with a wide range of additional options to choose from. Up to $20 million in liability cover and choice of excess.
  • $20 million in liability cover
  • Consumer protection cover for Queensland electricians
  • 24/7 emergency claims assistance
  • Optional cover for Money, Business Items and Stocks
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What's in this guide?

This guide looks at the ins and outs of public liability insurance, specifically at what is and isn't covered and how it is different to other forms of cover. If you are ready to receive quotes for cover, simply enter your details in the form below and an adviser will be in touch to help you compare different options.

What is and isn't covered by public liability insurance ?

While cover between companies may vary, 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.
  • Choose your level 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 is 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 is 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 is for certain types of advertising liability, for example a mistake in the advertised price of a product or service
  • It is for any liability or obligation that you assume under contract or agreement
  • It is caused by a deliberate act or omission by you or any employee
  • It results due to electromagnetic fields or electromagnetic interference
  • It results from your internet operations
  • It is for damage to computer data or programs caused by the use of any computer hardware of software
  • It is 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 is caused by any breach of professional duty by you
  • It results due to an act of war or terrorism

How is public liability different to product liability insurance?

Product liability is generally available as additional cover option to public liability and provides cover for claims arising from injury or damage caused by the use of a product provided by your business.

How is a product defined?

A product is a tangible good that was either sold, supplied, maintained or modified by your business. Claims can be made if the product has a safety defect and it's safety is different to what the community generally expect the product to do.

How is public liability insurance different to professional indemnity insurance?

Professional Indemnity InsurancePublic Liability Insurance
  • Provides cover if incorrect advice or behaviour of the professional leads to damage or injury to the customer and a claim is lodged for damages to recover any costs financially or physically
  • Specifically covers claims arising from acts, errors or omissions of duty by the professional
  • In addition to personal injury and professional injury, cover can also include financial losses suffered
  • Some industries will be required to take out professional indemnity insurance to practice
  • Related to claims made for property damage or personal injury that have occurred as a result of the service provided by the business
  • Product liability insurance can be added to public liability insurance if there is any chance that someone could be injured due to the use of a product provided by the business
  • Cover will generally only apply if the event being claimed for has occurred within the period of insurance
  • Claimant will need to be able to prove that the loss suffered has a direct connection to the business activities

Can I combine these under one policy?

Professional indemnity insurance covers the professional and his or her actions but does not provide cover for an accident that may take place on the professional’s premises when a customer is present. The professional will have to purchase public liability insurance cover as part of his or her full insurance package.

Do I even need public liability insurance?

Public liability insurance has the benefit of covering a business for all possible claims that may occur due to injury or damage to a third party’s property on the business’s premises. It is a crucial consideration to those businesses that involve direct contact with members of the public whether it is through the provision of a service or the selling of a tangible product. Supermarkets, manicurists, tattooists, doctors and dentists are just a few businesses that invite the public onto their property as the main part of their business operations. Legal costs when fighting a case are often covered by public liability insurance too as negligence has to be proven beyond doubt before a compensation claim is awarded so often the business requires a defence lawyer to ensure that the business gets a fair hearing.

Industries that may need public liability cover

  • Entertainment e.g. Dancers, Performers, Event organisers, etc.
  • Health professionals e.g. Nutritionists, Occupational Therapists, Yoga Instructors etc.
  • Hospitality. Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Cafes
  • Real estate e.g. Landlords, Strata management.
  • Other. Building / landscape designers, Vets, Public Relations, Outdoor Internships

States or territories where public liability insurance is required

It's usually a requirement for business owners to secure a license.
Electricians require PL insurance with an option known as 'consumer protection'. A minmum of $5 million in PL is required with at least $50,000.
Plumbers are required to acquire liability coverage before getting a license. Plumbing contractors need a minimum of $5 million in public liability insurance.
PL insurance is required for film makers before they are given permission to shoot films in the ACT. A minimum of $10 million in cover is required.
Most businesses require PL insurance before being able to provide services.

Need some help assessing if you actually need cover?

When deciding if your business could cope without public liability insurance, there are some key questions to ask when considering the immediate and consequential losses that may occur as a result.

  • In the event of a claim, would I be able to cover the legal expenses that may be occurred? Court and lawyer fees can add up extremely quickly.
  • How might your business suffer if you were forced to take time out of work frequently to attend court hearings? Would you be required to hire alternate staff to step in for you while you were absent?
  • In the event that you were found liable for damages, would you be able to rely on capital that your business had saved to cover losses?
  • In the event that you were required to close your business temporarily, would you be able to handle potential losses sustained from clients taking their business elsewhere?
  • Could you afford to loose staff if you were no longer able to cover their wages?

When is public liability insurance compulsory?

As a general rule, public liability insurance is not compulsory for businesses in Australia. However, certain types of businesses have their own unique requirements when it comes to public liability cover. In many Australian states, trades that operate under a license issued by the state government, for example electricians and plumbers, have mandatory public liability insurance requirements that must be met. Other businesses may also need to consider public liability requirements imposed by industry bodies. In addition, a business’ landlord may require them to have a certain level of public liability insurance cover in place in order to be allowed to operate their business out of certain premises. On a similar note, if you’re a tradie employed as a subcontractor, you may need insurance cover in order to access certain work sites. However, such requirements are usually contained in individual contracts rather than being required under a particular law.

Who is covered under a public liability insurance policy?

Public liability insurance will only cover the insured parties that have been listed in the policy. This is usually defined as:

  • The business that has been nominated for the work
  • The company directors of the business
  • The business employees
  • Partners of the business
  • Contract workers will generally be required to take out their own form of protection in order to be eligible to work on the building site.

Do small businesses need public liability insurance?

Regardless of business size, public liability insurance is suitable if the business has a physical premise. Small businesses that fall into this category include:

  • Cafes
  • Clothing shops
  • Restaurants
  • Retail shops
  • Bars
  • A gym

Comparing and selecting cover

How much does public liability insurance cost?

As with most insurance packages, how much public liability insurance will cost will depend on any potential risks associated with outsiders who use the premises. The cost of cover can range from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars per year depending on the nature of the business. Factors considered by insurers when determining public liability insurance premiums:

  • Nature of the business provided: This will involve looking at the type of activities the business undertakes. An insurer will review past claims data and go to great lengths researching different occupations and business types. For example, the risk of liability arising for personal injury or property damage may be higher on a construction site than in a retail store. Nature of the business provided will have the largest impact on the cost of the public liability insurance.
  • Size of the business: A larger business with more employees is likely to face an increased number of risks to smaller businesses. Insurers will consider the annual turnover of the business and average number of staff.
  • Location of business activities: Businesses that regularly carry out business in environments that have an increased likelihood of a claim arising can expect to pay higher for cover. Such high-risk environments may include airports, construction sites, railway stations and mine sites.

Is Public Liability Insurance Tax Deductible?

One important consideration when choosing the right business insurance policy is whether or not your premiums will be tax deductible. As a general rule, you can claim your business insurance premiums as a tax deduction if they are directly related to your ability to earn an assessable income. With this in mind, public liability insurance premiums are 100 per cent tax deductible. If you purchased your policy direct from an insurer, the insurer will provide you with a tax invoice each year that you can keep for your records. This invoice will come via your insurance broker if you purchased through a broker.

What should I look for when comparing public liability insurance policies?

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Some final questions you might have

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16 Responses

  1. 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.


  2. 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??


    • Staff
      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.


  3. Default Gravatar
    HarjeetMarch 1, 2017

    I’m looking public liability insurance for my taxi

    • Staff
      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.


  4. Default Gravatar
    BillJuly 17, 2016

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

    • Staff
      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,

  5. Default Gravatar
    RICKMay 24, 2016

    Need quote on 10 million public liability insurance.

    • Staff
      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,

  6. Default Gravatar
    June 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

    • Staff
      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,

  7. 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??


    • Staff
      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,

  8. 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

    • Staff
      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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