If you are a craft seller, then you will need to take out some form of public liability insurance before you sell your goods to the public. Public liability insurance for craft stall holders is compulsory when you book a table in a public or private venue.
All craft show venues, markets and fairs will insist you have public liability insurance before you are allowed to sell at their venue.
Get Quotes Early
You should start to get insurance quotes early on in your new craft venture - this mentally prepares you for the cost, as well as ensuring you've time to research and find the BEST insurance policy for your needs at the lowest price you can find. If you have to find and arrange insurance at the last minute it'll cost you more and you might regret the choice you made.
Below are the main points you need to look into and think about. Public liability insurance for crafters isn't expensive to get started, however, depending how your business expands, there might be other issues you should think about.
Note: Although this article is written with UK Craft sellers in mind, the messages are relevant for craft sellers in other countries too.
Apart from public liability insurance, you will also potentially need to consider:
- Product liability Insurance
- Stock cover insurance
You Will Need Public Liability and Product Liability Insurance For:
Craft Fairs | Car Boot Sales | Farmers Markets | Street Markets | Table Top Sales | Market Stalls | Street Party Sales | School Xmas Fairs | Festivals & Events
Public liability insurance is not something you can ignore, avoid or skimp on. It is essential to protect yourself and to protect your customers. Your customers are there to give you money for your products in good faith - and it's your duty that, should something go wrong, they are protected.
"What could possibly go wrong?"
The answer to this is - you never know what could go wrong, or when it will. Insurance is a necessary cost and it is tax deductible when you fill in your tax return forms.
You will need to have public liability insurance in place before you do your first craft show.
Public Liability Insurance
Public liability insurance covers you if you are selling at craft fairs, or other venues, where you are face to face with your customers.
This type of insurance is to cover you against accidents happening on/around your craft stall - if it should collapse, or somebody knock over a display onto somebody else. There are 1001 things which could go wrong - and public liability insurance ensures that if you have a mishap and somebody sues you for damages, you're covered up to £1-5million.
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Craft fairs, markets and other public spaces where people, their children, their dogs, roam free are not the only potential risks. There's the danger, too, that a fellow craft stall holder has a mishap that causes a domino effect to you. e.g. imagine if there were a strong wind and your neighbour's stall falls over, knocks an edge of your table, that collapses, all your products fall to the floor and somebody's foot is crushed by your most heavy product :) You need to be covered [a] in case your neighbouring stall isn't [b] to cover the costs in the interim while your insurance company sues your neighbour.
Companies Offering Public Liability Insurance for Crafters
The craft business market is a niche market. Often you've a small income and small turnover - your business liability needs are not the same as, say, a Hobbycraft shop!
There are specialist public liability insurance policies that were designed with the small craft maker in mind. Below is a list of some of these companies and policies to give you an idea and overview.
There will be other companies offering this type of insurance and you should get 2-3 quotes to discover the best one for your craft business.
- The Artist's Information Company. The £28 membership includes access to (the typically required) £5m public AND product liablity insurance
- The National Market Traders Federation (NMTF) provides access to public liability insurance. You need to become a member of the Federation first, at a cost of around £75.
- The Combined Market Traders Insurance Asssociation (CMTIA) offer a policy for approximately £47.00, which is probably one of the cheapest you will find anywhere.
- Ian Wallace of Craft Insurance offers public liability and product liability insurances. He is very helpful in helping you to get the right insurance for your needs. This company also provide insurance for crafters in the Republic of Ireland.
- GM Imber & Sons offer public liability insurance for car booters, antiques dealers, crafts people, marketstall holders and similar.
- Event Insurance Services provide liability insurance cover for market traders and exhibition stands, both ndoors or outdoors, shows or fayres - cover from as little £51.00.
- Walker Midgely offer Specialist Insurance to craft makers and stallholders.
- UK Sites Like Etsy
Sites like Etsy are springing up regularly now, so if you are a producer of hand-made items, then you might be looking to get your business online - and looking for sites like Etsy to quickly get your products online.
Craft Sellers' Product Liability Insurance
For a lot of craft sellers, having product liability insurance is essential. Product liability insurance protects you against being sued for a malfunction of your product. Clearly, most of the time, this wouldn't be important if you are selling knitted scarves for dolls, but if your product range is candles, body lotions/soaps, or food items, then there is a small chance that a customer could have a problem.
You will need product liability insurance whether you are selling face to face, or online through your own website, or handmade goods websites like Etsy.
Product liability insurance will typically cover you for damage or injury arising from defects in your product, design or manufacture, even if you have not been negligent. Your products DO still have to be "fit for purpose".
Companies Offering Product Liability Insurance for Crafters
Look around the market place and get some comparative quotes before you decide on the right product liability insurance for the craft products you are making. Here are a few companies that do offer craft-specific product liability insurance policies:
- Ian Wallace of Craft Insurance offers public liability and product liability insurances. He is very helpful in helping you to get the right insurance for your needs.
- The Artists Information Company provide product insurance as part of their subscription.
- Simply Business offer product liability insurance for creatives and crafters, including precious stones.
Exporting and Selling Goods Abroad
If you are selling your goods abroad, this will impact upon the product liability insurance you have - and will significantly increase your insurance costs.
Check the small print and check what you are covered for.
If you are selling through sites like Etsy, Folksy or eBay, it is highly probable that your customers will live abroad. In the UK we are part of the EU and most insurance policies will cover you when selling within the EU. However, if you are sending your products around the world, then you need to get a quote for International Seller Insurance, which is a ten-fold cost over selling more locally.
Again - get some quotes, compare the small print, if in doubt ask.
Insurance For Stolen Money
If you are taking cash in your business, then there are times when your money might be stolen. You could, for example, have a burglary on the night after your biggest weekend craft fair ever, where you made an absolute fortune! Or, what if, you take your takings to the bank just 100 yards from your house and lose the money, or get mugged?
For many people selling at craft markets and similar, there is an added risk that your takings might be stolen while you were packing up - a popular time for opportunist thieves to pounce!
You can insure against this risk, usually as an add on extra to one of the other policies.
If your cash is ever in a vulnerable position (particularly relevant to fairs/open venues), then this is well worth the small investment.
Stock Cover Insurance
To get to the point where you are selling products at craft fairs and on markets, you will have built up a lot of materials and stock items, ready for sale.
If you have a fire, or flood, at home, then your normal home insurance won't cover these items as they will be declared as "business stock and assets" - so you'd lose the lot. Losing your entire stock, materials and tools might mean you are no longer in a position to continue trading, bringing a sudden halt to your income.
You should also tell your home contents insurance provider that you are running a business from home, so there are no problems with your household insurance if you try to make a claim and they disallow it as you hadn't told them. Additionally, should this happen, they might even put a fraud mark on your records.
Trade Credit Insurance
For those of you selling to stockists, galleries, or local shops - where you leave your products on a "sale or return" basis, you should consider taking out trade credit insurance.
If you are offering "sale or return" then you are, effectively, giving your stockists credit, hence the insurance name. Trade credit insurance will cover you in the event that your stockist goes out of business and you cannot recover your products as they have been lost or seized without trace. This is worth considering in the current economic climate if you have a lot of stock placed with several stockists around the UK.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
donna on August 31, 2015:
I am looking at selling candles and bath bombs etc but I do not run a business. Any pointers for the right type of insurance to go with? Thanks
Dedicated Content Curator (author) from United Kingdom on May 30, 2013:
Thanks for your feedback heidithorpe.
Insurance is something many people will think they can get away with, but they then find they can't sell their handmade goods at craft fairs because they can't provide evidence of an insurance policy in place.
There is so much that could go wrong - and society being more keen to sue and get compensation that it's really not worth the risk.
All the best.
Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on May 30, 2013:
I know and work with a lot of small businesses, craft or otherwise. Commercial liability insurance is one of the things I encourage everyone to have. It was one of the first purchases for my business! Thanks for spreading the word on this important issue!