Scaffolding insurance refers to a set of insurance policies that a scaffolder needs to be able to do their job properly, covering liability, loss or damage if something goes wrong. Scaffolding is a risky business, and so having quality scaffolding insurance can allow you the freedom to complete your work without worrying about what you’d do if something did go wrong.
Some of the parts of an insurance policy that a scaffolder might hold are compulsory – Employers’ Liability, for example, is required by law if you hire any staff and will protect you if one of your employees (whether full-time, part-time or contracted) become injured or unwell as a result of their work for you.
Other sections, such as Public Liability, aren’t a legal requirement; however, most clients and customers wouldn’t engage you if you didn’t hold a policy before starting work. Public Liability will cover you if somebody incurs damages or injury due to your work – say you damage a customer’s external wall while setting up the scaffolding.
Simply put, what makes sense for one scaffolder might not make sense for you, so it’s important to be aware of all your options before making a decision.
- Employers’ Liability: A legal requirement if you employ anybody, will protect you if a staff member is injured or becomes unwell while working with you
- Public Liability: Financial protection if a third party (customer, the general public, other business on-site) incurs financial loss or injury as a result of your operation
- Tools and Equipment: Covers the costs of replacing tools that are stolen, lost or damaged (fire, flood etc.)
- Personal Accident: If you or an employee are seriously injured while at work, this will compensate them for medical expenses/lost wages
- Commercial Vehicle: Comes in the same three levels as your traditional vehicle insurance (Third Party Only, Third Party, Fire and Theft, Comprehensive). Protection if a business vehicle (truck, van etc.) is involved in an accident on the roads.
Scaffolding Public Liability insurance
A core component of scaffolding insurance is Public Liability, which protects you if a third party, such as a customer, member of the general public or another business you’re sharing a construction site with incurs damages or injuries resulting from your operation. It’ll cover any related legal expenses and compensation awarded against your business, and most clients will not hire a scaffolding company that doesn’t already have a policy.
It typically comes in 4 levels of protection (i.e. the maximum amount the policy would payout in the event of an accident) – £1 million, £2 million, £5 million or £10 million. Even higher levels are available, but these typically require a more rigorous sign-up process and some additional questions. If you’re working on big contracts or expensive buildings, it’s well worth considering, however.
Scaffolding Public Liability Examples:
- You’ve left some scaffolding on the pavement outside your customer’s home while putting it up. A member of the public walks past and trips over the scaffolding, causing them to fall and hurt their leg. Their doctor recommends they take 2 weeks off of work, and they sue you for the lost income.
- You’re carrying scaffolding through to the back garden of a customer’s property when you stumble into their shed, causing damage. The customer sues you to have the shed repaired.
Scaffolding Personal Injury insurance
Personal injury insurance provides protection if you or an employee becomes seriously injured or unwell, usually due to work. Different policies offer different compensation methods – policies designed for more “short-term” injuries (<6 months) might cover a percentage of your average weekly/monthly salary (typically 50-70%), where policies designed for more “long-term” injuries or illnesses (1 year+) would usually pay out a “lump-sum”.
Personal Injury example:
- While installing scaffolding at a customer’s home, you lift a heavy toolbox and injure your back in the process. You have to take 4 weeks off work as a result. Your personal injury coverage protects your income, paying out a weekly benefit each week you’re off work.
Scaffolding Vehicle insurance
Scaffolding Vehicle coverage will cover you or your employees if a vehicle owned by your business is involved in an accident that causes injury/damages to other people’s property. Like traditional vehicle insurance, it comes in three levels:
- Third-Party Only: Covers damages to third parties
- Third-Party, Fire and Theft: Covers damages to third parties, as well as your business if your truck is stolen or damaged in a fire
- Comprehensive: Includes all Third-Party coverage, but includes protection/compensation for your vehicle in the event of an accident
Driving without the correct insurance is illegal in the UK, and traditional Social, Domestic & Pleasure insurance will not suffice if you’re using a car, van or truck to support your business, so make sure you’re sufficiently covered before taking to the road.
Public Liability insurance cost for scaffolders
Public Liability insurance for a self-employed scaffolder (with no employees or additional coverages) is likely to start from over £700 per year. This is considerably more than the typical cost of Public Liability in the UK, which is around £120 annually.
It isn’t necessarily surprising – the 2019/20 Labour Force Survey had Construction as the UK industry with the 2nd highest incident of injuries in the UK, trailing only agriculture, forestry and fishing, and given the risks that construction workers and scaffolders face every day it isn’t shocking to see the costs of a Public Liability policy reflect that.