Public Liability Insurance for Events

What is public liability insurance?

Public liability insurance is one of the many forms of business insurance offered to business owners. It provides an essential form of cover against claims of legal liability resulting from negligence.

When you run a business that deals with clients and/or the general public, you are exposed to a unique range of risks. For example, a customer could slip on a recently mopped floor and injure themselves, and then decide to sue you for compensation. Defending yourself against these claims can be time consuming, stressful and very expensive.

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But this is where public liability insurance for events comes in. If as a result of your business’ activities a third party suffers an injury or property damage, public liability insurance covers any legal and medical costs that may arise. Importantly, this type of cover will also look after any compensation that you are liable to pay.

Liability lawsuits are becoming more common and some compensation payouts can be in excess of a million dollars. Public liability insurance is essential cover for many businesses, offering the peace of mind that comes with knowing you have adequate protection in place should you need it.

Taking out Public Liability Insurance for Events

If you work in event management, taking out public liability is a wise financial decision. Events can be crowded and all it takes is one thing to go wrong for you to find yourself the subject of an expensive lawsuit.

However, many insurance providers offer public liability and other insurance policies that are specifically designed for event managers. If you are legally liable for any injury or property damage suffered by a third party, these policies can provide the protection you need. In fact, some venues make it a mandatory requirement for event managers to have some form of liability cover in place before they can put on an event.

If a member of the public is injured at an event due to your negligence, public liability insurance for events will cover you. As well as legal and medical costs, this type of policy will also cover any compensation you are required to pay.

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Do I Need Public Liability Insurance Cover for Events?

You might think that public liability insurance is an unnecessary expense, something that eats up money that could be better spent elsewhere.

By their very nature, events expose you to a wide range of risks — any event where you’re in close contact with members of the general public, especially in large numbers, you increase your level of risk.

Even if you think you have eliminated all the possible risks, all it takes is a minor error or omission and you could find yourself in a difficult situation. A customer could slip and fall or machinery could malfunction and injure a passer-by.

If you think the money you’re required to pay for public liability insurance premiums is too much, think about how much a protracted legal battle might cost. What about if a court ruled that you had to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages to a third party? Would you be able to continue trading?

In some parts of Australia, public liability insurance for events is required by some organisers. Similarly, some event venues will also make it a requirement for organisers to have cover in place to protect themselves from financial loss.

It’s possible to take out public liability insurance cover for a wide range of events including:

  • food and wine festivals
  • community fairs
  • art exhibitions
  • garden shows
  • parades
  • car shows
  • concerts
  • cultural festivals
  • conferences
  • sporting events.
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What Protection Does Public Liability Insurance Provide?

Public liability insurance offers essential cover for a wide range of events, from flower and garden shows to music festivals and business conferences. The NSW Government’s Office of Fair Trading defines this cover as, “Insurance under which the insurer agrees to indemnify the insured for legal liability owed to another person who suffers loss or damage by reason of the insured's activities.” In other words, if your negligence causes injury or property damage to a third party, this type of cover protects you against any costs which may result.

How much cover do I need?

Policies typically have limits of indemnity of $10 million or $20 million, offering ample cover for legal costs. Having public liability cover in place means that instead of needing to have a sizable emergency, you simply pay your insurer a much smaller annual sum to manage the risk for you.

What is covered?

If a customer or event attendee claims that your negligence resulted in them suffering a loss and decides to sue you, public liability insurance covers your legal and associated costs. In addition, if you are deemed legally liable and have to pay compensation, your policy will cover that as well.

Product’s liability cover

Many policies will also include product’s liability cover, which is important insurance if you are selling any products at your event. This type of cover protects you in cases where a product you sell causes injury or property damage to a third party, for example if an event attendee gets food poisoning after chowing down on a dodgy hot dog.

Find out more about public liability insurance

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Things to Know When Choosing Public Liability Insurance for Events

As mentioned above, public liability policies include a limit of indemnity. You can choose how much cover you want when taking out a policy, with typical limits including $5 million, $10 million and $20 million. It’s also a good idea to make sure you’re aware of any excess you might have to pay when making a claim, as this can obviously contribute to the overall cost of your insurance policy.

Just like with any other form of insurance, public liability policies also feature a range of exclusions. Fireworks or pyrotechnics are often excluded from cover, while claims relating to injury or property damage caused by amusement rides will also typically not be paid. In these cases, it may be necessary to sub-contract fireworks and amusement rides to reduce your risk. Make sure to read the fine print when taking out cover so that you know exactly what is and isn’t covered.

Finally, it’s also essential your event has been planned and designed in a way that minimises public risk. If deliberate neglect means your event is not a safe environment, your policy will be void.

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Steps to Manage an Event Properly and Minimise Risks

A crucial part of planning a successful event is ensuring you have effective strategies in place to minimise risk. A risk management plan is designed to identify all the potential risks your event is exposed to and then suggest how the organisers can lessen the likelihood of those risks occurring.

You’ll need to consider a range of issues when putting together a risk management plan including:

    How many people will be attending the event?

  • Are there any inherent risks present at the event venue?
  • Will there be infrastructure brought onto the event site?
  • Will there be any moving vehicles on the event site?
  • Is there anything at the venue that could become dangerous in the event of inclement weather?

It’s also important to develop an evacuation an emergency plan. This will include determining who is responsible for ensuring a safe evacuation, as well as where to evacuate to and whether emergency services need to be notified of any possible risks in advance.

Planning and running an event exposes you to a wide range of unique risks. However, finding the right form of public liability insurance cover for your needs will ensure that you have adequate protection in place should something go wrong.

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Richard Laycock

Richard is the senior insurance writer at and is on a mission to make insurance easier to understand.

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2 Responses to Public Liability Insurance for Events

  1. Default Gravatar
    christine | July 21, 2014

    My sons wedding is on 4th October 2014. To hire the Community Centre for the reception we need to have Public Liability Insurance. Around 80 guests, normal wedding reception anticipated, can you recommend someone?

    • Staff
      William | July 24, 2014

      Hi Christine,

      Apologies for the delay getting back to your enquiry. If you submit your details via the form on the public liability insurance page, a business insurance broker will be in touch to discuss the different options available and provide you with a quote. This service is provided free of charge and there is absolutely no obligation to sign up for a policy.

      Thank you for your enquiry and all the best,


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