FAQs: Occupiers’ liability insurance


What is occupiers’ liability insurance?

Occupiers of premises can be held liable to people who suffer damage or injury there. This liability arises principally from the Occupiers’ Liability Acts 1957 and 1984. Occupiers can take out insurance cover to protect themselves in the case of compensation claims from people injured on their premises.

Who counts as an occupier?

For the purpose of the Occupiers Liability Act 1957, an occupier can be someone who owns, occupies, or has a level of control over premises sufficient to make them responsible for ensuring its safety. Occupiers can be organisations, businesses or individuals.
In some situations, several parties could be considered the “occupier” for liability purposes. For example, in the case of a rented home or business premises, the landlord or the tenant might be deemed to be the occupier.
“Premises” include land and any fixed or movable structure on it including buildings, sheds, scaffolding, and so on. 

When can occupiers be liable?

The 1957 Act gives occupiers a duty "to take such care as in all the circumstances of the case is reasonable to see that the visitor will be reasonably safe in using the premises for the purposes for which he is invited or permitted by the occupier to be there." In some circumstances, this includes trespassers on the premises.
If an occupier breaches this duty and someone is injured as a result they could be liable. An example would be if a shopkeeper failed to warn customers that they had just cleaned a floor and someone slipped and hurt themselves.

How else can occupiers protect themselves against compensation claims?

There are several steps that occupiers can take in addition to purchasing occupiers’ liability insurance and taking steps to make their premises safe for visitors. This includes giving warnings about potential risks (this must be sufficient to keep visitors safe, so a written warning is unlikely to be enough for young children). It is also possible to ask visitors to accept risks, by signing a release form for example, but this will only protect the occupier from liability in certain circumstances.
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