Public and Products Liability Insurance

First let’s consider the liability risks for an ‘average’ business. We all hear about court decisions to grant substantial awards to claimants seeking compensation for material losses and, more dramatically, personal injury. There is certainly an increasing number of lawyers promoting ‘no win, no pay’ services through the media, supporting the fact Australia is becoming more litigious. So – how much cover is enough to take under Public and Products Liability insurance?

Benchmark figures

In simple terms – we don’t know. The problem is, an accident or occurrence resulting in legal action that happens today may not get to court until many years down the track. In fact, if an injury occurs to a child, the courts allow for the action to be delayed until that child is old enough to claim as an adult. This could be many years after the event. To date the largest individual (personal injury) award made in Australian courts is around $16 million. How do we know the value of a similar claim in five, 10, or more years? Again, the answer is – we don’t.

That’s why, as insurance brokers, we will never normally suggest what is ‘enough’ cover. The current benchmark is $20 million, however, levels of $50 million or more are becoming common where there are additional risks such as crowd exposure, child-related activities or risk to high-value property.

For most commercial-property leases, landlords are seeking cover of at least $20 million and requesting evidence of the insurance noting their interest. Under purchase-and-supply contracts, principals are asking contractors to have ‘Broadform’ or ‘General’ liability in place, with approved insurers, for amounts of at least $20 million, and for larger projects up to $50 million.


What about tree loppers and others in the horticultural business? For horticulturalists, particularly tree loppers who work around powerlines, risks are substantial. Following the tragic Victoria Black Saturday bushfires of 2009, legal action involving class-action claims resulted in massive awards for negligence against service providers amounting to almost $700 million. These are scary amounts of money. The NSW Blue Mountains bushfires of 2013 also resulted in legal action against electrical-service providers. In one particular case, a number of property owners – through their insurers – successfully sued for property losses. Tree loppers who contract their services can be caught up in these legal actions as they may be directly or indirectly liable.

Specialist cover

What are the solutions? Those involved in the industry should seek the best liability cover available and, as explained earlier, the highest possible limits of cover should be sought. Look closely at your insurances, not all policies are the same. An important aspect of the insurance review process is analysing the risks that can adversely impact you or your business. Your Austbrokers SPT broker will review the risks affecting you and recommend a solution to safeguard against them. The specialised Public Liability Insurance that Austbrokers SPT offers is available to all those in the industry – from Line Inspectors to arborists and those specialising in powerline corridors. Benefits of Austbrokers SPT’s Horticultural Program are:
• Public Liability cover up to $50,000,000, including powerline work
• Backed by major international insurance companies with an Australian Standard and Poor’s rating level greater than ‘A’ strength
• A dedicated broker with 20 years’ experience in this field who is committed to assisting you with your needs
• Quick turnaround of documentation, including Certificates of Currency
• An Internal Claims Team dedicated to handling your claims with Australian-based insurer claims teams
• Competitive premiums and level of cover
• Comprehensive Machinery, Truck and Tools of Trade cover provided under one insurance package.

Austbrokers SPT is passionate about the horticultural industry, and it is this passion that continues to drive it to exceed its clients’ expectations.

To discuss your insurances, contact the team at Austbrokers SPT on or call (02) 9525 9311.

This advice has been prepared without taking into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. Please refer to the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) before deciding whether to acquire our product. Please contact our office if you would like to receive a copy of the PDS.

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