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Tue,23Jul2024

Public Liability Insurance

Industry and commerce are based on a range of processes and activities that have the potential to affect third parties (members of the public, visitors, trespassers, sub-contractors, etc. who may be physically injured or whose property may be damaged or both). It varies from state to state as to whether either or both employer's liability insurance and public liability insurance have been made compulsory by law.

 

Regardless of compulsion, however, most organizations include public liability insurance in their insurance portfolio even though the conditions, exclusions, and warranties included within the standard policies can be a burden. A company owning an industrial facility, for instance, may buy pollution insurance to cover lawsuits resulting from environmental accidents.


Many small businesses do not secure general or professional liability insurance due to the high cost of premiums. However, in the event of a claim, out-of-pocket costs for a legal defense or settlement can far exceed premium costs. In some cases, the costs of a claim could be enough to shut down a small business.


Businesses must consider all potential risk exposures when deciding whether liability insurance is needed, and, if so, how much coverage is appropriate and cost-effective. Those with the greatest public liability risk exposure are occupiers of premises where large numbers of third parties frequent at leisure including shopping centers, pubs, clubs, theaters, sporting venues, markets, hotels and resorts. The risk increases dramatically when consumption of alcohol and sporting events are included. Certain industries such as security and cleaning are considered high risk by underwriters.

 

In some cases underwriters even refuse to insure the liability of these industries or choose to apply a large deductible in order to minimize the potential compensations. Private individuals also occupy land and engage in potentially dangerous activities. For example, a rotten branch may fall from an old tree and injure a pedestrian, and many people ride bicycles and skateboards in public places. The majority of states require motorists to carry insurance and criminalise those who drive without a valid policy.

 

Many also require insurance companies to provide a default fund to offer compensation to those physically injured in accidents where the driver did not have a valid policy.


In many countries claims are dealt with under common law principles established through a long history of case law and, if litigated, are made by way of civil actions in the relevant jurisdiction.

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