what insurance do i need to be a carpenter

What insurance do I need to be a carpenter?

Insurance is important for those working as a carpenter because they are exposed to a lot of risks. There is a risk of injury whilst working as a carpenter, as well as a risk of injury to the public.  Also, there are expensive tools and equipment that can be attractive to thieves, making a variety of insurances appealing for those in the carpentry business.  Read on to see exactly what insurance is recommended for carpenters and why.

carpentry framework

Why does a carpenter need insurance?

A carpenter is a craftsman/tradesman who builds, repairs, and installs wooden structures such as a framework for house builds (i.e. for internal walls), door frames, window frames, staircases, porches, cabinets and shelves and so on.  Some carpenters specialise in one type of wood or in a certain style of building. For example, cabinet makers make furniture out of wood.  

Woodworking is a rewarding hobby, but it can also be dangerous and accidents can happen, which is why insurance is recommended.  Carpenters use many tools like saws, hammers and power tools to build these houses and other structures, meaning they are at risk of injury while completing these jobs. 

There is also a risk of injury to the public or other people on a site where a carpenter is working, such as tripping over a carpenter’s tools or a wooden structure falling down due to it not being fixed properly. 

Then there is the possibility of damage to another person’s property while completing carpentry tasks.

Also, a carpenter has expensive tools and equipment that could be stolen and possibly a work van that is also at risk of theft.

As well as protecting yourself financially against claims, some customers won’t employ you without proof of a valid insurance policy.

What insurance do I need to be a carpenter

How to reduce the risk of injury as a carpenter

Rather than get insurance, you might be wondering if you can simply reduce the risks and hazards.

The risks of being a carpenter can range from occupational hazards such as falls, cuts, and burns to the physical toll of long hours.

There are ways carpenters can reduce risks by taking extra precautions to ensure their own safety and the safety of others.  Here’s how:

  • Many woodworking injuries happen due to accidents involving power tools, so it is important that carpenters know how to use these tools properly and safely.  They should also be well rested and not work with dangerous power tools if they are too tired.
  • Whilst a carpenter doesn’t legally need any formal qualifications, it can be useful to undertake professional carpentry training to learn how to effectively and safely complete jobs.
  • Carpenters should also wear appropriate safety protective gear when using power tools to minimise the risk of injury, such as wearing safety gloves, hearing protection, a dust mask, goggles and hard-toe non-skid boots.
  • Work tidily and don’t leave tools lying around that could be a trip hazard.
  • Use the right materials for the job to ensure all wooden structures are as safe as possible.

However, even reducing the chance of an injury won’t completely eliminate the risk, so it’s still important to have appropriate tradesman liability insurance to cover all eventualities.  Insurance can protect and cover the cost of any expenses incurred as a result of these accidents or injuries.  Not having insurance means the carpenter has to pay for any legal and medical costs from their own pocket which could run into the tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of pounds.  This can result in financial hardship, the loss of the business and loss of other personal assets if self-employed. 

What insurance do I need to be a carpenter?

In the UK it’s not actually a legal requirement to have business insurance when you’re self-employed or run a business single-handedly, but it’s certainly highly recommended!  

There are a variety of insurances that are suitable to protect a carpenter against any lawsuits that might arise due to injury caused to the public.  

Also, there are insurances that protect a carpenter against injury to themself, as well as insurance to cover stolen tools.  

Let’s take a look at these business insurances in more detail below.  It may be that you can get a single tradesman liability insurance with add-ons that will cover the lot.

Public liability insurance

Firstly, to protect against a claim of injury, damage or death as a result of carpentry activities, you will need adequate public liability insurance.  This type of insurance can protect you whether you work on-site or at a customer’s location, covering compensation costs. It’s not just about injuring someone, but damage too.  Imagine you drop a heavy tool and damage a customer’s floor and it can’t be repaired, you’ll be covered for the cost of the claim with public liability insurance.

Employers’ liability insurance

If the carpenter has employees then it’s a legal requirement in the UK to have employers’ liability insurance. Many insurance companies will offer this as an add-on to the public liability insurance, so the insurance can be taken out by the same provider and for one monthly payment.

“You must get Employers’ Liability (EL) insurance as soon as you become an employer – your policy must cover you for at least £5 million and come from an authorised insurer. EL insurance will help you pay compensation if an employee is injured or becomes ill because of the work they do for you.” – GOV.UK

Professional indemnity insurance

If you offer advice, designs or expertise to a customer or business as part of your carpentry services then you may also want to consider professional indemnity insurance.  This can cover you for any compensation claims due to a mistake in your designs or advice that result in a financial loss for a client.

Personal accident and income protection insurance

If carpentry is your livelihood and you are self-employed, then how will you be able to make an income and work if you are ill or injured?  There are special types of insurance such as personal accident insurance and income protection insurance that can cover your loss in income as a result of an injury or illness.

Tradesman tool insurance

If your tools are stolen as a tradesman, not only are they expensive to replace, but the loss of tools can prevent work from being completed until more tools are sourced, resulting in a loss of income too.  Tools are so expensive that it might not be possible to replace them all in one go, again affecting the business and income possibilities until they are all purchased again. For some people, it might be impossible to buy all these tools again at a later date as it depends on the finances available. 

protect your tools

It’s important to protect your tools as best as possible from theft by not making them so easy for thieves to access, but to ensure your woodworking business can quickly get up and running again if your tools are stolen, you can protect yourself financially by taking out tradesman tool insurance.  This will cover the cost of replacing the tools if they are stolen, so you can get straight back to work.

Not only can this insurance cover theft of tools, but sometimes for damage too.  If your tools are damaged accidentally, such as while in transit, then appropriate insurance will cover the cost of any repairs.

Business equipment insurance

It may be that you have an office for your carpentry business or at least a phone and laptop for the admin and promotion side of things.  Replacing a business phone and laptop can be expensive if they are lost, stolen or damaged, so taking out insurance to cover this might be wise.

Commercial vehicle insurance

It’s likely you’ll have a separate work van for your carpentry business which will need its own insurance.  But if you use your regular day-to-day car for transporting your business tools and work-related purposes then you need to ensure your existing car insurance covers for such use.  If not, you may need to switch to commercial vehicle insurance to keep your policy valid. 

Final word

If you are a carpenter, then it’s really important to buy the right kind of insurance to protect yourself financially in the event of a claim from a third party, but also to protect yourself financially if you can’t work or your business equipment is damaged or stolen. There are many companies that offer specialised tradesman insurance online and you can easily build a policy to meet your needs.

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