Why do charities need public liability insurance?

category Charities

To School of Risk home

charities public liability insurance

A recipe for trouble

Thumb through any parish newsletter today and you’ll find some kind of charity cake sale, coffee morning or book fair going on.

It’s clear, as a nation, we’re a generous bunch. And we enjoy doing what we can to help others less fortunate.

But with everyone up on their feet, it’s a sad fact that public events don’t always go to plan.

A twisted ankle here. A slip on some wet grass* there …

If you’ve not done a risk assessment, your cake sale could leave you with a bad taste in the mouth.


But I only do the odd small event; no one’s really going to sue me … are they?

Many smaller charities don’t really ‘get’ the hazards involved in putting on events. It’s tough understanding what insurance they need (not to mention how it really benefits them), or if they even need it at all.

So let’s take an average coffee morning as an example.

It’s likely you need to hire a room in a community centre or village hall to host it.

Fine. But what happens if someone topples off a wobbly chair? Or hot tea gets spilt in someone’s lap? Or someone slips on the wet kitchen floor?

Many people wrongly think the building owner covers any injuries or property damage.

Sadly, this isn’t true. As the event organiser, if something does go wrong, the claim will be made against you or your charity. And, as you’re liable, you’ll have to pay a solicitor to help defend you, and write a cheque for any compensation if it comes to it.


So what can you do?

Well, risk assessment isn’t time-consuming or tricky once you know what to look for. If you can prove you’ve done as much as you can, it’ll help if Joe Public has a fall (or damages something).

Here are a few things to consider:

  • Get your health and safety up to scratch. Take a walk round your surroundings with a ‘hazard checklist’. That way you can look at any areas where there’s a bigger risk of accident or injury. Once you’ve done that, take steps to deal with it. The sooner you do things, the less chance of more problems down the line. Make clear to the public any loose cables, uneven terrain or areas where there’s moving vehicles. Put up some signs if you need to.
  • Be open. If you have staff or volunteers helping you, the law says you need to provide a safe working environment. If you’ve spotted anything that looks a bit dicey, tell them. Do you have any first aid kits? Are there adequate toilets and wash facilities? What’s the maximum speed limit on site? Make sure you share this sort of info. Some areas may need extra attention. Give training if you think it’ll help.
  • Review the situation. Depending on the size of the event and the level of risk, you should have a decent amount of supervision on the ground to keep things ticking over. They’ll help you keep tabs on how it’s all going while the party’s in full swing. That way you can make adjustments, or act on any problems, as they crop up. Oh, and it doesn’t hurt to keep one eye on the weather too.


Protect your cake. Then eat it.

Public liability insurance for charities can help.

If a member of public’s injured or their property’s damaged, and the finger’s pointing in your direction, you’re covered. It covers your legal costs if you have to defend yourself and, if you’re found at fault, any compensation you have to pay.

Getting the right insurance for your charity shouldn’t be intimidating or difficult. If you’re not sure where to start, our team can help. Call a friendly expert on 0345 222 5399 and ask about the cover your charity needs.

*Someone really did claim against a charity because they slipped on some wet grass. They successfully argued there were no signs out to warn that grass can indeed be slippery when wet. Just a little something to think about next time the rain clouds gather …



Share this

More from this category

Are small charities sleepwalking into a governance and risk management crisis?
Do charities need professional indemnity insurance?
Research reveals the UK loves a small charity
Buy online in minutes. Less admin, more business!
yay banner image