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Do private tutors need public liability insurance?


A newspaper job listing for a tutor is circled. Below, the word necessary highlights that tutors need public liability insurance.

In short, yes, they do. Or at the very least they should think seriously about it. The alternative is to learn from experience –­ and that can prove a very costly lesson indeed.

Why public liability insurance for tutors is a good idea

On the face of it, tutoring falls into the ‘really quite safe’ bracket of occupations. It’s hardly on a par with the risks a steeplejack takes, after all. Unless, of course, you happen to be tutoring people in fire eating or knife-throwing.

So, let’s say you’re what would be considered a normal type of tutor. The kind that goes to people’s houses to help kids prep for their maths GCSE or to sharpen up their essay writing skills. Maybe they come to your house instead.

So far, so safe. The lesson proceeds to plan and everyone’s happy. By the end of the hourly slot your student’s made some progress, and you’ve earned a fee. All in all, it’s a masterclass in how the tutoring game works.

But what if something unexpected happens and someone or something gets hurt in the process? What could the consequences be?

Murphy’s Law

Say you’re tutoring from home and, as your student walks through the door, your attention-seeking cat winds itself affectionately round their legs…causing your student to fall and break an arm. Worse, it’s the arm they use for writing.

The same sort of thing can happen to a parent collecting their child. Whether they fall foul of the cat, a rucked-up rug or any other type of trip hazard, the potential for injury remains the same. Plus, if it happens on your premises, the blame’s on you.

And it’s not just people that get accidently hurt, either. Property, potentially worth a lot of money, can get damaged too.

Say you’re hard at work with your student, poring over an English set text. It’s a hot day and you’ve got a glass of water to hand. But in reaching for it you somehow knock it over...and suddenly your student’s top-of-the-range iMac is awash. Then the screen goes blank. End of lesson.

Tutors’ public liability insurance to cover the costs

The thing is, whether the damage is the kind that hurts people or their property, both can hurt your bank balance. And that’s because people will want compensating - either for the pain and inconvenience of bodily injury, or for the cost of fixing and replacing damaged items.

Claims can cost £thousands. Because someone whose son has been unable to sit their GCSE papers as normal because their arm is in a cast will want payback. And a claim for a ruined iMac alone can be more than £2000. That’s without even considering the legal fees that are part and parcel of any claim.

Then there’s your reputation to consider. A lot of tutoring works by word of mouth. If you get an in with a certain school, or a particular set of parents, then your contact details tend to be passed seamlessly from one person to the next.

But if there’s a problem, like there's a compensation claim you dispute or simply can't cover through lack of funds, that’s when things can go wrong. Your name is suddenly whispered in less flattering terms. Word of mouth becomes moan of mouth. And work starts to fall off.

Top marks for professionalism

It doesn’t take a Mensa IQ to realise protecting yourself with public liability insurance for tutors makes good common sense. That’s because accidents happen, as sure as some of your students won’t do their homework. And whether those mishaps happen in your home or elsewhere, you're covered.

If someone or something does get hurt while you're working, public liability insurance acts in two important ways – both of which can save your financial bacon. First, it buys you legal expertise (and we all know how expensive solicitors' bills can be). Second, it covers any compensation you're liable for.

It also gives you that professional edge, demonstrating that you’re serious about both your business and your clients’ welfare. And it ensures that if there is a claim, it’s dealt with quickly and effectively by specialists, leaving you free to concentrate on your students. So, it helps to protect your reputation too.

Preparation is everything in tutoring. A lot of what you do is focused on getting your students ready for their exams. Equally important is preparing for all eventualities – including the possibility of public liability claims. It’s a matter of practising what you preach.

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