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What liability insurance does a mobile catering company need?

Whether serving the best burritos to hungry clubbers or the perfect coffee to city workers, mobile catering companies need a range of insurance cover to protect against business risks. But when you’re new to the mobile catering industry, you may be wondering what type of insurance you need.

It’s one of the most common questions we get asked here at Mobilers by new business owners. That’s why we’ve put together this quick guide to demystify the different types of cover and show you some of the options available.

What liability insurance does a mobile catering company need?

When dealing with business risks it’s important to choose a company that understands the unique challenges facing a catering business. You’ll no doubt want tailored and quality cover, but at a great price, too.

Mobilers has been arranging caterers insurance for more than 20 years. That means we can quickly arrange catering public liability insurance for a wide range of catering business types. Just give us a call to find out more.

Catering Trailer

Why do you need liability insurance as a mobile caterer?

Working in the catering industry can be a risky business, from slips and trips to burns and food poisoning there are plenty of hazards for the unwary. Hopefully nothing will ever go wrong at your mobile catering business, but if it does it’s vital for the protection of all concerned that you have adequate liability insurance in place.

After all, if a legal claim for injuries or damage is brought against your business and you’re not covered then it could be the end of your foodie empire dreams. 

What liability insurance do you need?

There are three main types of liability insurance all mobile catering companies should consider having. They all have certain similarities but also some important differences you need to be aware of.

It’s worth noting, right at the outset, liability cover often comes as a bundled package – but never assume this, always speak to your insurance provider to check precisely what your specific policy cover.

Public liability insurance

This is by far the most important type of insurance for a mobile catering company to have in its protective armoury. It’s what protects your business against a whole variety of compensation claims from customers or other members of the general public.

These claims can easily arise from injuries or damage to people and property caused by hazards associated with the day-to-day running of your catering business. A potential claim could also include costs of NHS medical treatment or an ambulance call out following an incident.

Examples of compensation claims include:

  • A piece of signage isn’t properly secured. It falls down and injures (or even kills) a customer or damages someone’s property.
  • You drop a heavy cooking utensil from your van and it damages a car parked next to you.
  • As you’re passing a cup of hot coffee to a customer you spill it and it burns their hand.
  • A passer-by trips over some boxes left carelessly behind your van and injures themselves. As well as medical bills, if they’re self-employed you could be sued for loss of earnings.
  • You serve up some incorrectly stored burgers, causing food poisoning to your customers.
  • You don’t handle food correctly, causing a customer to come into contact with an allergen and suffer anaphylactic shock.
  • A gas or electrical fault causes a fire or explosion and damages surrounding properties. Learn more about gas safety over on our blog.

Any one of these compensation claims and the legal costs in dealing with them could easily put you out of business if you’re found liable. Indeed, even if you win the case, you could still be left out of pocket due to heavy legal expenses.

While it’s often possible to claim back some of these costs from the person who sued you, they’re very rarely paid in full.

Public liability doesn’t cover any injury to yourself or your employees or any damage to your property. It also doesn’t protect you if you’re sued by an employee – that’s covered by employers’ liability insurance.

It isn’t a legal requirement for your business to have catering public liability insurance. However, nowadays most councils and event organisers demand mobile caterers have a minimum public liability insurance to cover claims up to £5 million – indeed some will only accept £10 million coverage. If you’re not covered then not only will you leave yourself open to potential claims, but you may not be able to set up at certain pitches.

If you get cover through Mobilers, the catering public liability insurance can be extended to £10 million at no extra cost if required by a contract or event. That’s why it’s so important to choose a specialist insurer that understands the mobile catering industry like we do.

Employers’ liability insurance

One of the many benefits of starting out in the mobile catering business is that often you just need to take care of yourself. Many start-ups have only one employee (you) and therefore have less paperwork. However, as your business grows and more money is coming in you often need to take on extra staff to cope with demand.

This is obviously a very exciting time, but with this extra growth comes a bit more responsibility, paperwork, and expense. Perhaps the most important being the need to arrange employers’ liability insurance.

As soon as you employ one other person the law requires you to have appropriate insurance cover for them. Whether they’re full-time, part-time or just temporary, cover must be in place. Indeed, you could be fined £2,500 a day, per employee, for each day you're not covered.

This insurance cover will protect your business from any compensation claims as a result of injury or illness to your employees. These can include substantial medical expenses and even legal fees.

Examples of compensation claims include:

  • A hot pan or a sharp kitchen knife is left in the sink, causing an injury to a member of staff.
  • An employee slips on a wet kitchen floor or trips over a power cable and breaks their wrist. As the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) explains, slips and trips are the single most common cause of serious injury within UK workplaces.
  • A chef develops an RSI or musculoskeletal problem because of their work for you.
  • A faulty food hatch slams shut on a staff member’s fingers causing injury.

Note that by law you must have an employers’ liability insurance policy with a minimum of £5 million of cover. However, at Mobilers we offer £10 million of cover as standard.

Remember, not all injuries and illnesses show symptoms immediately. It’s certainly possible that an ex-employee may claim compensation, even years after they’ve stopped working for you. Employers’ liability insurance can cover this, provided you’ve kept on top of your insurance paperwork. You could be covered even if the insurance has since expired.

If you’re prosecuted for health and safety breaches, employers’ liability cover could also include the legal expenses of your defence.

Product liability insurance

Depending on the type of mobile catering business you have this type of insurance could be invaluable. It gives you that extra protection against any legal claims specifically related to your food product.

This is particularly important if you’ve expanded your food offering so other outlets are stocking your delicious products.

Example claims include:

  • A customer gets food poisoning as a result of eating your product.
  • A customer suffers an allergic reaction to something contained in your product that was not clearly labelled.

While product liability insurance is not actually a legal requirement in the UK it is something worth considering. At Mobilers we can package product liability cover up to £5 million alongside public liability and employers’ liability insurance.

We can also extend product liability up to £10 million at no extra cost where a contract or event requires it.

Bakery Pop Up

What does liability insurance not cover?

As you can see, there are a huge range of instances where having the right liability insurance will really help you out. However, it’s also important to remember that deliberate acts are not covered by liability insurance.

These types of insurance are designed to cover claims for damages or injuries that have happened due to mistakes, oversights or accidents. If there has been an intentional attempt to cause harm then you won’t be covered. Check out our blog on common kitchen accidents and how to prevent them.

It’s also worth noting policies often contain exclusions that might render your policy invalid. These can include unforeseeable situations, such as natural disasters or force majeure events. If there’s a nuclear spill in your area then you’re probably not going to be covered under this kind of insurance!

There are also some situations that require other forms of insurance. For example, the costs of recalling a product or infringing someone else’s trademark. If in doubt, always speak to your insurance provider. If you have a policy arranged through Mobilers, our helpful team is always ready to answer any queries.

How to check your liability insurance meets your business needs

Protecting yourself against some of the top risks for mobile caterers  is an important part of effective business planning. However, if you don’t have the right level of cover in place then all your efforts could end up being for nothing.

Have a think about the answers to these questions to make sure your policy suits your business:

  • Do you have any employees? Even if they’re only casual, you’re legally required to take out insurance protection to cover any harm to them.
  • Is your business insured for the right things? For example, if you carry a lot of stock in your van, are you covered if anything happens to it?
  • Do you have the right level of cover for your business? Many councils now demand £10 million liability insurance cover if you want to bid for any pitches.
  • Have you checked your policy documents? While there should be no surprises, are there any exclusions or excesses that mean you won't be properly covered if something untoward happens?

If you’re at all unsure as to whether your current insurance cover is right for your business give our friendly team a call. They’ll be only too happy to discuss your needs with you and make the world of insurance a little clearer! You can also check out our blog on starting a roadside catering business to see if it is right for you.

What other insurance cover do you need?

While you’re thinking about whether you’ve the right level of catering public liability insurance, have you thought about other cover, too?

From food trucks and vans to trailers, your catering vehicle will be one of the biggest investments in your business. So, you’re going to want to protect it. Mobilers can tailor insurance to cover all shapes and sizes of vehicle for theft, loss, fire and damage.

You can choose from comprehensive, third party fire and theft, and third party only. We can  also provide cover for your vehicle’s permanent fixtures and fittings. After all, the value of your top-of-the-range cooking and food storage equipment can often exceed the cost of the vehicle itself!

Don’t forget, there’s plenty of optional cover on offer as well. This can include cover for legal expenses, business interruption, generators, and loss of stock.

What legal licences and certificates do you need?

As well as keeping on top of insurance paperwork you’ll also need to check you’ve the right licences, permits and certificates in place to sell street food. These include:

  • Food business registration and a food hygiene rating.
  • Street trading licence
  • HACCP (hazard analysis and critical control point) plan.
  • Detailed risk assessment.
  • Gas and PAT testing.
  • Food safety and hygiene certificate.
  • Alcohol licence (if necessary).

There’s lots of helpful information out there about how to start a mobile catering business . Check it out to make sure you’re set up for success.

Liability insurance from Mobilers

Take out catering public liability insurance through Mobilers and you could enjoy policy benefits such as:

  • Immediate cover and quotations available
  • Documents emailed or sent out immediately
  • Short period policies available on request

With flexible payment options and exclusive discounts available, it’s so easy to protect your food business with insurance from Mobilers.

Get a quote for catering public liability insurance today.

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