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Product and Public Liability Insurance for Markets Etc

As we are currently getting ready to attend a local craft market, namely the Queens Park Craft Market in Toowoomba, Australia, the issue of Public Liability insurance reared its ugly head.

It is not unusual, and understandably, for market organisers to require stall holders to have Public Liability insurance. So a few enquiries with stall holders and others about who they used lead me to make several phone calls enquiring about a suitable policy.

That led to a can of worms and a long drawn out process before we actually managed to find the right policy.

First step was to speak with our insurance broker. Their response was it was very expensive, $400-$600 at least. Well, we are very small and just starting out so that was a bit daunting. However, I did still ask for her to look into it further. In the meantime I did my own research.

The first spanner in the works came when the subject of Product Liability came up. This was raised by a number of the insurance companies I rang. Each suggested that we should consider Products Liability as well as Public Liability, and offered a policy including both.

On thinking about this I decided that their advice, while I am sure was mostly about selling more insurance, did hold some value and that product liability was probably a good idea. One issue with selling glass products is that glass can break and can cause injury. So back to the insurance companies.

A very popular company, AAMI, that offers reasonable priced Public Liability was first on the list. They also offered a combined policy for Public and Product liability. However, on talking to their sales person they advised me that they couldn’t offer a policy because we sell art glass products. In this respect, they were the exception as no other company excluded us because of this. So they were off the list, and most stall holders I spoke to used them.

Talking to further companies, and I spoke to several, another issue raised its head. The issue of import and export. They all see selling through a website like Etsy to anyone outside Australia as export, and buying any jewellery components from outside Australia as import. As soon as they found out we intended to do this they advised they could not offer us a policy as their policies all exclude any import/export activities. They would not even insure us just for Australia and simply exclude outside Australia. Apparently, even though the policy has a territory exclusion, this can be overruled in a court and they can still be held liable.

So we arrived at a position where it looked like we had to choose. Either forget about Product Liability insurance, or make a choice to not sell or buy outside Australia. Well, excluding the rest of the world as a market just seemed ludicrous to me so that wasn’t an option. Not having Product Liability also did not seem like a wise option as there is a real risk. A brick wall.

Then I rang back the broker and found they had actually compiled a list of companies that would offer a policy, to sort of suit, and surprisingly one of these was way cheaper than expected, and it was a large and well know company. Surprisingly, they also accepted what we did, including art glass, and selling online, overseas and at markets. In fact, any retail and online sales. But there was a catch. The overseas sales did exclude North America (USA and Canada), due to the litigious nature of these countries. We could sell anywhere in the world except there. But there was still hope. If we did ever get an order from these countries we just needed to advise the insurance company and they may still accept this.

Wow, what a surprise. And the premium was only $10 more than the larger well know company I mentioned earlier, and that included the brokers fee.

In summary, I suppose I am saying you should consider product liability if there is a reasonable risk. I know most stall holders don’t carry this, though food sellers should definitely have it.

If you are unsure if your policy includes Product Liability, and you feel there is a risk, you should talk to your insurer and clarify the situation.

You can waste a whole lot of time trying to find insurance yourself. Believe me, I spent hours doing this. I strongly suggest getting a good broker and let them do the hard work for you. Their small fee is well worth it.

Want to know who we eventually decided on? Zurich Insurance. I am in no way recommending this company, just saying that is who we decided to use.

Please engage your own broker and explain your circumstances. They will do the work for you and give you a number of options. Check the different policies and choose wisely. I hope we did.

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