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Men and women surrounding a computerMost business owners in South Africa can benefit from a public liability insurance policy. Public liability insurance offers the insured company protection against claims made by third parties for damages or injuries. If the third party can prove your business is liable for the damages or injuries caused, you will have to pay up. Public liability Insurance, in such cases, can protect you from the legal fees and the costs for damages and injuries.

Is Public Liability Insurance Required by South African Law?

South Africa’s laws around insurance are not very inhibiting for the policyholders. Business owners can get away with having very little insurance depending on their industry and operations. The same applies for public insurance, however,  businesses have come to recognise the benefits of having public liability insurance in place and it is growing in popularity.

Some clients may require that you have public liability insurance in place before working with you. These situations are dependent on your industry. Public liability is more important for some kinds of companies than for others. Public liability insurance should not be disregarded, even for small companies or start-ups. It can protect you from huge financial losses.

What is my Company’s Risk for Public Liability Claims?

While almost all companies need public liability insurance, some types of companies may need it more. Your need for public liability insurance depends on your public liability risk profile. How at risk is your company for public liability claims? Is your company frequently in contact with the public, with customers, suppliers, and other third parties? What practices in the way your business operates puts you at risk for events that could lead to claims?

As the business owner, you can best assess the level of risk your company is exposed to when it comes to public liability. Some business owners opt to assess their risks with the help of professionals. Either way, the end result should make it obvious whether you need public liability insurance and to what extent. Here are the industries and business types most at risk for public liability claims:

What Kinds of Companies Need Public Liability Insurance in South Africa?

Companies that come into contact with consumers, clients, suppliers, or even people walking past their place of business need public liability insurance. If any member of the public could potentially get injured, or if their property could potentially be damaged due to your company, its employees, and its operations, you need liability cover. As you can see, this includes almost all businesses in South Africa.

Retailers Need Public Liability Insurance

Retailers can benefit from good public liability insurance. If you have a store that is open to the public, this kind of cover is essential. If a customer slips on a wet floor in your shop, they can bring a claim against you, and if they can prove they slipped due to the negligence of an employee or your company, you will be liable to pay damages. Because retailers come in contact with many members of the public daily, the risk is larger than in some other cases.

Retailers and Shop-Owning Business Types that can benefit from Public Liability Insurance include:

  • Bars and Clubs
  • Beauty Salons
  • Conference Centres
  • Dojos
  • Gyms
  • Hairdressers
  • Restaurants
  • Supermarkets
  • Stores

Tradesmen & Builders Need Public Liability Insurance

Companies operating in the construction, building, and repair sector will need public liability insurance, including car repairs. A builder’s services are not executed on their own premises, but on the premises of their client. Even so, they can be held liable if they mess up and injure someone or break something. For example, if a builder incorrectly installs a ceiling panel, and it later falls and causes damage.

Tradesmen are also at higher risk for public liability claims and should get liability cover to protect the future of their company. These tradesmen will benefit from public liability cover:

  • Carpenters
  • Cleaners
  • Decorators
  • Electricians
  • Gardeners
  • Painters
  • Plumbers
  • Sign Writers

Questions to Ask to Assess the Public Liability Risks for my Business

You may own a unique company that operates in conditions unique to itself. Maybe you own a travelling petting zoo, or maybe you sell malware protection to corporate clients. You may be a sole proprietor designing websites or someone who does shark cage diving every Tuesday. With such a large variety of business types and operations, how can you best assess your risk for public liability claims?

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does my business, including its employees and operations, come into contact with members of the public often?
  • Do my clients require that I have public liability protection?
  • Can my business operations cause injury or damage to any third party?
  • If I had a public liability policy, would it help reassure my customers should anything go wrong?
  • If something did go wrong, could my business afford the possible legal and compensatory costs involved?

If you read these and came to the conclusion that your company needs public liability insurance, you are correct. Even the lone website designer could accidentally drop his laptop on a client’s foot or accidentally knock over a cup of coffee onto important equipment at a meeting. You can get Business Insurance cover for public liabilities today!

DISCLAIMER: The information provided in this article is meant for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, medical, or financial advice. Facts stated in this article are correct at the time it has been published.


Sources:; lloydsbank; eprop;

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