Public Liability Insurance FAQs

What is Public Liability insurance?

Public liability insurance covers claims that arise should your negligence result in injury to a member of the public or damage to their property.

Incidents where people trip or fall over are among the most common accidents which can result in public liability insurance claims.  For example, if a member of the public trips over a bag that has been left on the floor at a workshop you were running as an independent practitioner, and the member of public is injured as a result, they may claim against you for compensation.  

Am I insured?

If you are a current, paid up BASW member, resident of the UK and subscribe to the Independents Plus membership package, you will have £5 million public liability insurance cover for your professional social work activities.

May I use my BASW insurance to take legal action against another individual?

No. The public liability cover within BASW membership only applies if a claim is brought against you as an individual.

Is my BASW insurance valid outside of the UK?

Yes and no.

Should the social work been contracted within the UK by a UK based client, your BASW insurance would be applicable internationally.

Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure that all registration and other legal requirements are met whilst working abroad.

The Public Liability insurance will not provide cover for you unless these legal requirements have been met.  This includes ensuring you have permission from the relevant authority to practice within their jurisdiction.

In the instance that your services are being commissioned from a client who is not UK-based, the insurance would not be valid.

Members who are not UK residents are not normally covered. Please contact BASW for specific queries.

Do you have to be a Social Worker to join BASW and access the insurance?

To join BASW and benefit from the insurance as part of membership, you are required to have a social work qualification and/ or work in a social work or social work related role.

Do all social work professionals and/ or independent practitioners require Public Liability insurance?

Should you meet with any clients, service users and/ or members of the public when conducting business or as part of your practice, then you will need Public Liability insurance. Clients may occasionally cover contractor activities, however, in the vast majority of instances you will need to organise your own cover and this will likely be a condition of contractual arrangements.

How do I make an insurance claim?

The insurance policy covers claims made for compensation or damages.

IMPORTANT. If you receive a notification of a claim against you or have reasonable grounds to believe that a claim might be produced, contact BASW immediately even if you do not believe the claim to be justifiable.

Failure to notify promptly could invalidate your cover.

When you do get in touch, provide as much information as possible including individuals involved, circumstances and accurate timeline.

If your claim is accepted, our insurers will arrange legal advice on your behalf. 

  • Please contact us in the first instance as it is unlikely we will be able to reimburse you if you arrange your own legal provider.   Please call 0121 622 8415 or contact us here. 
  • NOTE: The insurance policy covers claims made for compensation or damages.  Should you be subject to a complaint referred to a regulatory body please contact the BASW Advice and Representation department who can support you with this on 0121 6228413 or email

I am in a non-working category of membership, am I still insured?

Should your work be undertaken on an entirely voluntary basis, then your BASW professional indemnity insurance within the non-working category would still be applicable.

If you receive payment for contracted work and in a non-working category of membership, then your BASW professional indemnity insurance is invalid. If you are unsure about your membership category, please contact the BASW membership team.

My practice is not exclusively social work, are these activities still covered?

The Public Liability insurance will be valid when you are on social work or social work related business. Activities that are entirely unrelated to social work will not be covered. Please contact us for specific queries.

Are my business associates also covered by my BASW insurance?

No. Should your business associates also be social workers then they may join BASW individually to access the BASW insurance. If they are not social workers, they will need to source cover independently. We strongly recommend that when working with associates either on a single contract or on a long-term arrangement to seek legal advice on how best to proceed.

If you are employing colleagues be it social workers, administrative support or other professionals, you may require employers’ liability insurance. At present, BASW does not provide this cover.

Working within a Partnership, Social Enterprise, consortium or other joined arrangement

Always seek legal advice when entering a business arrangement with colleagues. Items to discuss and have a written agreement may include (though not exhaustive):

  • Clarity of commitment & responsibilities (business & practice)
  • Liability
  • Insurance
  • Exit strategy

How much can be claimed?

Up to £5 million for any one claim or in total during any one year.

This includes any legal costs you may sustain in defending yourself and any legal costs of the claimant that you may be called upon to pay as a result of a judgement against you.

Is there an excess to make a claim against my BASW Insurance?

There is a £250 excess for property damage to make an insurance claim which is paid by the insured member.  A £2,500 excess applies to claims arising for property damage in the USA and Canada.

Are there VAT implications should I make a claim on my BASW Insurance?

There are VAT implications but these are not met by the BASW member making a viable claim.

Can I have my individual name or business name on the verification of insurance document?

As BASW members are protected under the BASW umbrella policy, it is not possible to add your name or business name to the insurance document. A personalised accompanying letter can be issued upon request.

I’m an Independent, does the BASW Public Liability insurance cover my business?

The BASW Public Liability insurance covers you as an individual and not your business as an entity. Therefore, within your company you are covered for any damages caused. If working with colleagues and/ or if you employ anyone, we strongly recommend seeking independent legal advice on the most appropriate way to insure your practice.