In product liability insurance (PLI) terms, a product is any physical item that is sold or given away.
Products must be "fit for purpose". Under the Consumer Protection Act 1987, you're legally responsible
for any damage or injury that a product you supply may cause.
If you supply a faulty product, claimants may try to claim from you first, even if you did not
manufacture it. You'll be liable for compensation claims if:
- Your business' name is on the product - ie the manufacturer made it for your brand
- Your business repairs, refurbishes or changes it
- You imported it from outside the European Union
- You cannot clearly identify the manufacturer
- The manufacturer has gone out of business
Otherwise, the manufacturer is liable - or the processor, where the product involves parts from
multiple manufacturers. However, you must also:
- Show that the products were faulty when supplied to you
- Show that you gave consumers adequate safety instructions and warnings about misuseshow that you included terms for return of faulty goods to the manufacturer or processor in any sales contract you issued to the consumer
- Make sure that your supply contract with the manufacturer or processor covers product safety, quality control and product returns
- Have good quality control and record-keeping systems
The nature of risk, ie the viability of a claim and the premium, is affected by:
- Who the product is sold to
- How and where it is used
- Any warnings or labels provided
What is covered
PLI covers you against compensation awarded as a result of damage to property or personal injury
caused by your product. Bear in mind that if someone is awarded personal injury compensation,
the NHS can claim to recover the costs of hospital treatment (including ambulance costs).
This applies to incidents that occur either on or after 29 January 2007.
Read about the Injury Costs Recovery Scheme on the Department of Health (DoH) website.
PLI may not cover you against financial losses to a business or person caused by a faulty product
which you manufactured, serviced or supplied.
PLI also covers you against unforeseen circumstances, such as product faults your quality control
system couldn't trace. However, if you simply make an inferior product, you may be unable to make a
claim, or even get insurance. Bad workmanship is not covered either.
Before issuing a policy your insurer will want to know that your:
- Manufacturing or services are conducted according to industry best practice
- Staff are adequately trained
- Equipment and systems are appropriate, up to date and well maintained
- How much cover to take out - Most businesses have cover of between £1 million and £5 million. The norm is £2 million.
To reduce your premiums, implement quality control measures. This ensures lower premiums,
reduces the risk of compensation claims and helps protect your reputation in the marketplace.