Public liability insurance

At BrokerLink, we understand that protecting your business is about more than just safeguarding your assets—it’s about peace of mind. Whether you’re a small startup or a large corporation, our tailored public liability insurance policies ensure that you’re covered for any phenomenon, from personal injuries to property damage claims. With BrokerLink, you’re not just getting insurance; you’re getting a partner committed to your business’s safety and growth. Let our expert business insurance brokers help you navigate the complexities of liability risks so you can focus on what you do best—running your business.


How does public liability insurance work?

Public liability insurance is an important form of business liability insurance for Canadian businesses, offering protection against a range of business liabilities associated with interactions with the public, like bodily injury and property damage. Even with precautionary measures and clear hazard warnings in place, there’s always a risk of unexpected incidents. Public liability insurance is designed to address these risks. It ensures that if someone sues your business for damages or injuries that occur on your property, the insurance company will cover the legal costs, subject to the limits of your policy.

Facing a liability claim can be financially draining for a business. Public liability insurance provides a financial cushion, ensuring that a single accident or lawsuit doesn’t jeopardize the business’s financial stability or reputation. Here’s a breakdown of what it typically covers:

Bodily injury

Public liability insurance is crucial in addressing injuries that occur due to a business’s operations or on its premises. This includes accidents like slips and falls, equipment-related injuries, or other incidents where a third party is inadvertently harmed. The insurance typically covers medical expenses, which can encompass emergency treatment costs, ongoing medical care, rehabilitation, and potential compensation for pain and suffering.

Property damage

In addition to bodily injuries, there’s also the risk of property damage. This could involve scenarios such as a business accidentally damaging a client’s property during a service call or a product causing damage to a customer’s home. Public liability insurance assists in covering the costs of repairing or replacing the damaged property. This can be a critical financial relief, especially if the cost of damage is significant.

Legal defence costs

Legal defence can be one of a liability claim's most financially taxing aspects. Even a baseless lawsuit can result in substantial legal expenses. Should your business be sued for a liability claim, public liability insurance can help cover the costs of legal defence, regardless of the lawsuit’s outcome. It helps cover attorney fees, court costs, and any other expenses related to defending against a claim. This aspect is vital for businesses, as it ensures that legal costs do not become a crippling financial burden.

Completed operations

This aspect of public liability insurance is particularly relevant for businesses that work on multiple job sites or engage in projects that could result in liability after the work is completed. For example, if a construction company builds a structure and, post-completion, an issue arises from the work done like structural damage or injury caused by the work, this insurance may cover the liability claims. It’s essential for businesses involved in construction, contracting, or similar fields, where the effects of their work might not be immediately apparent but could lead to liability issues later on.

This coverage ensures that businesses are protected not just during the execution of a project but also after its completion for any liabilities that may arise as a result of their completed work.

Personal and advertising injury

This part of the policy addresses non-physical injuries such as slander, libel, false advertising, wrongful eviction, and privacy rights violations. In today’s digital age, where information spreads quickly, protecting against claims of personal and advertising injuries is increasingly important.

These claims can harm a business’s reputation, and insurance helps in managing and mitigating these risks. As with physical injury or property damage claims, this part of your coverage includes legal defence costs, which can be vital in cases where reputational matters lead to litigation.

Tenant’s legal liability

If your business rents or leases a space, this insurance can cover damages caused to that property. This insurance explicitly addresses situations where a tenant of the business is legally responsible for damage to the leased or rented property. Common causes of such damage include fires, water damage due to plumbing issues, or structural damage caused by accidents or negligence.

For example, if a fire originating from your business’s negligence damages a rented office space, this insurance will cover the costs of repairing the damage to the building structure, electrical systems, and other affected areas.

How does public liability insurance benefit your business?

Public liability insurance is a vital tool for protecting a business financially and legally from the risks associated with public interaction. It enhances the business’s reputation, contributes to its continuity, and provides peace of mind, allowing business owners to focus on their core activities. Let’s explore these benefits further:

Financial protection against claims

One of the primary benefits of public liability insurance is the financial protection it provides against claims made by third parties for bodily injury or property damage. These types of claims can be exceedingly costly, especially when they involve medical expenses, repair or replacement of damaged property, and legal settlements. Public liability insurance covers these costs, safeguarding the business’s finances.

Legal defense support

If a business faces a lawsuit related to a third-party injury or property damage, the legal fees can be substantial. Public liability insurance typically includes coverage for legal defence costs, which can be a lifeline for a business, especially if it’s wrongly accused or the claim is frivolous.

Risk management

Public liability insurance is a key component of a comprehensive risk management strategy. It helps businesses identify, assess, and manage the risks associated with interacting with the public, ensuring they are prepared for unforeseen incidents.

Enhances business reputation

Having public liability insurance demonstrates to customers, clients, and the community that a business is responsible and committed to safety. This can enhance the business’s reputation and can be a deciding factor for clients or customers choosing between competitors.

Business continuity

By protecting against potentially crippling financial losses due to liability claims, public liability insurance helps ensure business continuity. Without this protection, a single large claim could potentially bankrupt a small or medium-sized business.

Contractual requirements

Often, having public liability insurance is a prerequisite for entering into certain contracts, especially in industries like construction, events, or those involving government contracts. Therefore, having this insurance not only protects the business but also opens up opportunities for new projects and contracts.

Peace of mind

Knowing that the business is protected against the financial and legal repercussions of accidents or damage involving third parties provides peace of mind. This allows business owners and managers to focus on running and growing the business rather than worrying about potential liability risks.

Public liability insurance vs. commercial general liability insurance

Public liability insurance and commercial general liability insurance are both critical for businesses, but they cover different aspects of liability risk. Let’s explore how these two commercial insurances differ:

Public liability insurance

Public liability insurance is specifically designed to cover claims made by third parties for bodily injury or property damage resulting from a business’s activities. This type of insurance is particularly focused on incidents involving the public. It includes liability coverage for third-party bodily injury to third parties, property damage to third-party property, and the legal defence costs associated with these claims. This insurance is ideal for businesses that frequently interact with the public, such as retail stores, restaurants, or small service providers.

Commercial general liability insurance

On the other hand, commercial general liability (CGL) insurance offers a broader scope of coverage. While it includes the coverage provided by public liability insurance, it extends further to cover additional risks. CGL policies often come with higher coverage limits than public liability insurance and can be customized with various endorsements to suit specific business needs. This makes CGL essential for most businesses, especially those with higher-risk exposures, like manufacturing companies, large service providers, or companies that produce products.

The key difference

The key difference between the two lies in their scope and breadth of coverage. Public liability insurance is more specific to incidents involving the public, focusing on a narrower range of risks. In contrast, CGL provides a comprehensive package that addresses a wider range of business liability risks, including higher coverage limits and more customization options.

The choice between public liability and commercial general liability insurance depends on a business's specific needs and risk profile. Larger businesses or those with a broader range of potential liabilities often opt for CGL for its comprehensive nature. In comparison, smaller or public-facing businesses might find public liability insurance sufficient.

For businesses seeking to navigate the complexities of choosing between public liability insurance and CGL insurance, reaching out to a knowledgeable insurance provider like BrokerLink can be an invaluable step. Our team of experienced professionals can help you gain insights into the most appropriate coverage options tailored to your specific risk profiles and operational needs.

What does public liability insurance coverage not cover?

Public liability insurance protects businesses against certain types of risks; however, there are several areas it typically does not cover, like professional negligence or product recalls. Here’s what public liability coverage doesn’t include:

Professional negligence or errors

This insurance does not cover claims arising from professional services or advice. For instance, if a consultancy firm gives incorrect advice leading to a client’s financial loss or if an architectural firm’s design flaw causes a structural issue, these instances of professional negligence are not covered by public liability insurance. Such risks are instead covered by professional liability insurance, also known as errors and omissions (E&O) insurance.

Product liability

While public liability insurance covers injuries or damage caused by business operations, it doesn’t cover issues arising from products the business sells or manufactures. For example, if a consumer is harmed by a defective product manufactured by a company or if a product causes property damage, the resulting claims are not covered under public liability insurance. Product liability insurance is necessary for these scenarios, offering protection against claims of product defects, including design, manufacturing, or labelling faults.

Employee liabilities

Public liability insurance does not cover injuries sustained by employees while on the job. These are typically covered under workers’ compensation insurance, which is a separate policy that businesses need to have in place and provides coverage for medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, and lost wages for employees injured on the job.

Contractual liabilities

Assumed liabilities that arise from the terms of a contract you have entered into, such as certain indemnities or obligations that a business agrees to in a contract beyond what is covered under common law, are generally not covered by public liability insurance. For this, businesses would need contractual liability coverage.

Directors’ and officers’ liabilities

Public liability insurance does not cover issues like mismanagement, breach of fiduciary duties, or wrongful acts in their managerial roles. Instead, they require liability insurance for directors and officers.

Cyber risks

As businesses increasingly rely on digital technologies, the risk of cyber incidents grows. However, public liability insurance does not cover data breaches, cyber-attacks, or related liabilities. Cyber insurance is a specialized liability policy that addresses risks such as data loss, hacking incidents, and the legal and regulatory consequences of such breaches.

Damage to own property

Public liability insurance is designed to cover damage to third-party property, not damage to your own business property. Damage to the business’s own property, whether from fire, theft, or other perils, requires commercial property insurance.

Business interruption

Losses due to business interruption, such as a forced closure or reduced operations, are not covered under public liability insurance. Business interruption insurance is a separate policy for this purpose that is designed to cover lost income and additional expenses that occur when a business is unable to operate normally due to various covered perils.

How to save money on your public liability insurance policy

Saving money on your public liability insurance policy while still ensuring adequate coverage involves a combination of understanding your specific needs, assessing your risks, and being strategic about your insurance choices. Here are a few of our expert tips to help you start saving money:

Understand your risks

Tailor your coverage to your business’s specific needs. Over-insuring can lead to unnecessarily high premiums, while under-insuring can leave you vulnerable. Understanding the risks unique to your industry and business operations can help you find the right balance.

Shop around and compare quotes

Don’t settle for the first quote you receive. Shop around and compare different insurance providers. Each insurer has its own method for assessing risk and calculating premiums, so prices can vary.

Consider a higher deductible

Opting for a higher deductible can lower your premium. However, ensure that the deductible is still affordable in the event of a claim. It’s a balance between what you can pay out of pocket and the premium savings.

Review and update your policy regularly

Your insurance needs can change over time. Regularly reviewing and updating your policy ensures that you’re paying for coverage you no longer need.

Inquire about discounts

Ask insurers about any discounts that may apply to your business. Some companies offer discounts for installing security systems and fire alarms or have a good claims history.

Use a broker

Insurance brokers can help you find the best deal. They know the market and can negotiate with insurers on your behalf. Local brokerages like BrokerLink specialize in understanding client needs and finding cost-effective solutions.

Consider exploring additional insurance options for comprehensive coverage of your business

Businesses that work with the public should consider a range of additional insurance options to ensure comprehensive protection. Having a well-rounded insurance portfolio is crucial, not just for fulfilling legal and contractual obligations but also for establishing a robust safety net capable of handling unexpected disruptions from unforeseen events. Here are some essential insurance coverage options often needed alongside public liability insurance:

For businesses of any size, from small startups to large corporations, that interact with the public, a thorough evaluation of risk exposure is essential. Consider consulting with insurance experts like BrokerLink to craft a customized and comprehensive insurance plan for your business needs. While businesses working with the public count on public liability insurance as a key component of their risk management, incorporating additional insurance options enhances and reinforces the overall insurance portfolio, ensuring robust and thorough protection.

Get in touch with BrokerLink

When it comes to public safety, being prepared for the unexpected is not just an option—it’s a necessity. BrokerLink’s Public Liability Insurance offers the comprehensive protection your business needs to navigate the complexities of public interactions with confidence. From bodily injuries and property damage to legal defence costs, our tailored policies are designed to provide peace of mind and a solid foundation for your business’s growth and success. Ready to safeguard your business’s future? Contact BrokerLink today and take the first step towards comprehensive public liability protection.


FAQs for public liability insurance

What is public liability insurance in Canada?

Public liability insurance in Canada is a type of insurance that provides protection to businesses against financial losses resulting from claims of injury or property damage caused by third parties. It covers legal fees, medical expenses, and compensation costs in such instances.

What is an example of public liability insurance?

An example of public liability insurance is a retail store policy that covers the store in case a customer slips and falls on the premises, injuring themselves. If the customer sues for injury, the insurance will cover the store’s legal defence costs and any compensation awarded to the customer up to the policy limit.

How much is liability insurance in Canada?

The cost of liability insurance in Canada varies widely depending on several factors, such as the type of business, its size, location, the industry it operates in, and the specific risks associated with the business. It’s best to get personalized quotes from multiple insurance providers to understand the exact cost for your specific business needs.

Do I need public liability insurance coverage for my small business?

Yes. Even small businesses face risks of liability claims, such as accidents or damages occurring on their premises or due to their business activities. Public liability insurance can protect against potentially crippling financial costs associated with legal claims or settlements. Regardless of the size of your business, this insurance is a key part of risk management and can provide peace of mind as you operate your business.

If you have any questions, contact one of our local branches.

Other Ways to Find Business Insurance with BrokerLink

By coverage type

By occupation:

By province:

By city: