Find out what insurance for caterers includes, who needs to take it out and how much it might cost.
As a caterer, seeing people enjoy the food you make can bring great satisfaction. But there’s also some risk. A supplier selling you a bad ingredient can cause serious damage to your reputation, and none of us are immune to human error.
Taking out business insurance for caterers can help protect you and your business when things turn sour. We looked at what’s included in catering insurance, what type of cover you need and how much it might cost.
What is catering insurance?
Catering insurance is business insurance designed for professionals in the catering industry, including those supplying food for weddings or corporate events, or running a food van or market stall.
Why do caterers need business insurance?
Any business owner should consider taking out business insurance to protect themselves and their business from damage and legal action by other people.
As a caterer, you are dealing with people on a daily basis and serving a product that can have an effect on people’s wellbeing. If you work private events, there’s even more pressure for everything to be perfect, as well as the risk of action being taken against you if any damage is done (whether it’s your fault or not).
Lastly, but crucially, caterers usually own expensive specialised equipment. What would happen to your business if your equipment was damaged? Would you be able to replace everything easily? If the answer is no, then you need insurance to protect yourself from a serious dent in your income.
What business insurance do caterers need?
The type of cover you need will vary according to the kind of catering business you run. For example, a food truck won’t need the exact same cover as a caterer who supplies food for weddings out of a home kitchen.
However, elements like public, professional and product liability insurance are all important to caterers. You might also consider taking out cover for your equipment or premises. See below for what each cover element includes.
The exact policy spec will depend on your personal requirements, but insurance for caterers generally includes the following elements:
- Public liability insurance. One of the most important elements of cover for any business owner or professional, public liability cover protects you in case a member of the public is injured or their property is damaged and your business is legally liable. For example, if you are working at a wedding and one of the guests trips over a bit of your equipment and injures themselves, public liability insurance may cover you if action is taken against you.
- Product liability insurance. The food you serve counts as a product (whether the person consuming it has paid you directly or not). Product liability insurance protects you in case your food (or a particular ingredient within it) causes harm to a customer. Even if the ingredient came from a supplier, you can still be held responsible.
- Professional liability insurance. Also known as indemnity insurance, this is an important element for caterers. Food can have a serious effect on people’s wellbeing and, while the majority of the time things will likely go smoothly, mistakes can happen, which can lead to action against you. These type of claims can run into the millions of pounds, so protecting yourself is paramount.
- Equipment insurance. Professional cooking equipment doesn’t come cheap and can involve specialist tools. This type of cover can protect it all against damage, loss and theft. If you travel to clients’ houses or to party venues, you’d want to take out a policy that covers your equipment while in transit and away from your premises.
- Employers’ liability insurance. If you employ staff, you are legally required to take out employers’ liability insurance to protect your employees and yourself against legal action. If your staff are freelancers, this might not apply to you, but it’s best to check with your insurance company to make sure.
- Business vehicle cover. If you deliver your food or travel to see clients, you will need to declare this to your car insurance company. Business use may be excluded from your car insurance policy or require an extra fee, but failing to be open and honest with your insurer could invalidate your policy. If you use a van for your business, you should look at van insurance for it. Note that this type of cover doesn’t usually include food trucks, so you will have to find a specialist policy to cover you if you operate one.
- Legal expenses cover. While liability compensation payouts can run into the millions, other costs involved in a court case can also be a serious burden. Legal expenses cover can help you in the event that action is taken against you.
- Personal accident cover. Other people’s health isn’t the only thing that matters – your wellbeing does too. This type of insurance covers you in case you are injured and cannot work.
- Business contents insurance. If you have your own premises, business contents insurance can help you replace things like furniture and other items if they are damaged in an insured incident, as well as your equipment and your employees’ personal belongings if they are damaged, lost or stolen. If you prepare your food at home, note that your home insurance is unlikely to cover you for this. You can find out more in our guide to working from home insurance.
What isn’t covered?
Most providers let you pick and choose the elements included in your cover, to suit your personal needs.
However, some benefits, such as legal expenses cover, business contents insurance and business vehicle cover might require an additional fee.
How much does catering insurance cost?
Premiums will vary by insurer and the level of cover you need. Optional extras (such as legal expenses cover and business contents cover, for example) will also add to the cost.
How much catering insurance cover do I need?
This will depend on the size of your business and the type of catering you provide. Consider these factors when choosing how much cover to take out:
- Whether you own or rent your equipment
- Whether you offer mobile catering services, and what kind of vehicle you use
- Whether you have your own business premises or catering truck
- Whether you offer catering services at private or large scale events
- Whether you employ staff
As you offer consumable products to customers, consider taking out a high level of product liability cover. If you often work at private or large scale events, you’ll want to take out higher levels of public liability and indemnity cover. If you have your own premises (even if these are located in your home), business contents insurance would be a good idea.
Examples of how catering insurance can cover you
- Action taken by a client. Many caterers offer their services at weddings. While those are usually joyful occasions, they also involve a lot of pressure and emotions can run high. If something goes wrong with the food or your service, the bride and groom might take legal action against you. Having indemnity insurance can help protect you in this instance.
- An accident at an event. It’s not just party guests that can be hurt at a busy event. Imagine you’re running around making sure everything is going smoothly and you trip and break your arm. If you are the sole cook in the business, this can put you out of action for a while and cost you a lot of money in lost income. Personal accident insurance and income protection cover can both help here.
- Fire damage. Whether you cook at home or at dedicated premises, if your prep area catches fire, you’ll have to close up shop until the damage is fixed and the lost equipment is replaced. Having business contents insurance should cover the cost of the damage and help you get back to making delicious treats as soon as possible. Note that if your professional kitchen is in your house, your standard building and contents insurance is unlikely to cover damage to items relating to your business.
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