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I’ve had an accident at work, will my employer have insurance and am I covered?

Most employers are required by the law to insure against liability for injury or disease to their employees arising out of their employment. 

What is employers’ liability insurance?

Your employer is responsible for your health and safety while you are at work. 

If you are injured as a result of an accident at work, or become ill as a result of your work, and if you believe your employer is responsible, you may be able to seek compensation from them. 

The Employers’ Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act 1969 requires your employer to have at least a minimum level of insurance against any such claims.

Employers’ liability insurance will cover relevant work injuries or illness whether these are caused on or off site. However, any injuries or illness relating to motor accidents which occur while you are at work may be covered separately by your employer’s motor insurance

Does my employer need employers’ liability insurance?

All employers must have employers’ liability insurance except the following:*

  • most public organisations including government departments and agencies, local authorities, police authorities and nationalised industries;
  • health service bodies including National Health Service trusts, health authorities, primary care trusts and Scottish health boards;
  • some other organisations which are financed through public funds, such as passenger transport executives and magistrates’ courts committees.

If you work for one of these public sector organisations, you can still claim compensation if you are injured at work or become ill as a result of your work and your employer is to blame. Any compensation will be paid directly from public funds.

How do I find out about my employer’s insurance policy?

When your employer takes out or renews a policy for employers’ liability insurance, the insurance company will give them a certificate containing information about the policy. Your employer must display a copy of this certificate where you have reasonable access to it. If they do not, they can be fined.

Since 1 October 2008, employers have been allowed to satisfy this requirement by displaying the certificate electronically. If your employer chooses this method, they must ensure that you know how and where to find the certificate and you have reasonable access to it.

How do I know whether I am protected by employers’ liability insurance?

You will only be protected by your employers’ liability insurance if you are an employee.

Sometimes it can be difficult to work out whether you are protected, especially if you generally think of yourself as self-employed. Whether or not you are covered by employers’ liability insurance depends on your contract with the person you work for. This contract can be spoken, written or implied. Even if you consider yourself to be self-employed for the purposes of tax, you may still be an employee for the purposes of employers’ liability insurance depending on the nature of your relationship with the person you work for.

What happens if my injury or illness was caused some time ago?

If you are awarded compensation, this will relate to the insurance policies which were in force at the time your illness or injury was caused. Your employer will renew their employers’ liability insurance every year. It is therefore important that you are able to find details of policies which have expired.

Since 1 October 2008, there has been no legal requirement for employers to keep copies of out-of-date certificates. However, employers are strongly advised to keep, as far as is possible, a complete record of their employers’ liability insurance. This is because some diseases can appear decades after exposure to their cause.

If your employer has gone out of business since your original illness or injury, you can still claim compensation from the insurer who issued the employers’ liability insurance policy which was in force at the time. However, it can be difficult to find the details of the policy and the name of the insurer.

If you are in any doubt or have any questions about your accident at work, do not hesitate to give us a call to discuss the matter on 08000 84 2000. We are available 24/7 to answer your call.