UK consumers and home owners are more informed than ever when it comes buying products and hiring service providers. Whilst “word of mouth” remains a tried and tested benchmark for hiring professionals, the internet and social media in particular makes it easier than ever to whittle down a list of prospective builders, plumbers or electricians.

The recent popularity of dedicated trade reviews and recommendation websites like Checkatrade, Rated People, and Trust A Trader again, provides home owners with yet more means of validating an ultimately choosing a trade professional that’s both reliable and trustworthy.

Whilst this is all good and dandy for consumers, what effect does it have on the tradesmen? Well for a start they’ve been having to up their game.

The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) advises home owners on the “best practices” in regards to finding, hiring and overseeing builders and building work in the UK. Their recent findings suggest that a large portion of home owners still do not ask for such essentials as recent references or even for a contract to be put in place upon beginning major works.

Despite all the consumer TV shows and websites, less than 10% of builders surveyed say that clients normally request to see valid insurance policies such as public liability insurance and employers’ liability insurance for their firm.

Having the correct insurance in place is absolutely vital, it protects your firm and ultimately your livelihood, but also provides peace of mind for your clients and the job you’re working on.

So, what does having tradesman insurance entail, and how does it help and cover you. Firstly, whilst there are general tradesman policies (also known as professional tradesman cover) available on the market, in most cases you will find your needs better met with a more specialist or trade-focused policy.

In its most basic of criteria, a tradesman is someone over the age of 16 who has been deemed a professional in their field of work. Should they wish to undertake work on their own home (both inside and out), or on a clients’ home then tradesman insurance is required – your clients may even be looking for proof of it. Additional cover, or a full business insurance may be required if you have an off-site lock-up or premises , which is worth keeping in mind when shopping around for quotes.

The type of cover you need will very much depend on the type of business you operate and the trade in which you work. The very basic but most important level of cover is liability protection. As the term suggests public liability insurance for tradesman protects both yourself and your clients – should yourself or your client or a member of the public be injured as a result of the works in which you carry out. As I’m sure you can imagine, as a builder there’s a whole magnitude of potential dangers involved in your line of work and despite the very best workplace practices and precautionary safety measures – accidents can happen anywhere.

Should such an incident arise, the insurance policy will cover you against any legitimate compensation claims that may be brought against you or your firm.

In addition to liability for yourself, you are legally required to also have in place employers’ liability cover should your business also employ other workers such as a labourer, contractor or other temporary or casual worker. In this instance, employers’ liability insurance (as the name would suggest) will cover any claims made by an employee who has been injured or has become seriously ill as a result of working for you. Such a policy will extend to cover any/all employees of the firm – whether that be full-time positions or casual labouring.

Another facet of liability protection for tradesmen is known as “product liability”. This will usually be trade specific and therefore might not be relevant to some trades. In a nutshell, a “product” policy will offer liability protection for the products you use, make or refurbish. It will protect your firm against any injury (to individuals or property) or faulty workmanship that may arise due to a product you have made, fixed or have used. in such a situation, it is possible that a claim could be made against your business, and such an insurance policy would cover any compensation claims made by an injured party.

So that wraps up the liability angle of the most common type of trade insurance policies, but there are a number of additional and extra levels of cover that can be taken out alongside. The public/employers/product liability policies should be a staple for you as a professional trader, but it is also worth considering tools and stock cover and maybe even contract works insurance depending on the type of work you do.

Most professionals use their own equipment, usually hiring any extra bits for heavy duty jobs as and when needed. Such specialist equipment can quickly get expensive so it’s always worthwhile protecting them however you can, so should the worst happen you’ll be financially covered and will hopefully be back up and running quickly and not jeopardise any current or planned jobs.

That leads us on to the final option which is definitely worth of consideration as part of any tradesman policy, that of contracts work insurance. Depending on the scope and complexity of the jobs in which you undertake this type of policy could be worth it’s weight in gold should the day comes that a claim is made. The policy is aimed at on-going jobs, where prior to completion and customer handover, something becomes damaged or there is an unforeseen hold-up with the job. In such an event without this type of insurance, any costs would likely have to be settled or absorbed by yourself. So it’s definitely a worthy consideration when it comes to putting together a tradesman insurance policy that’s right for your line of work.

Having the correct and proper types of insurance for your business whether you’re a builder, roofer, plumber or cake decorator, not only protects yourself, your livelihood and your customers, but it also displays a level of legitimacy and peace of mind to prospective customers.