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Catering Insurance

Comprehensive Guide to Catering Insurance

Emma Lunn
Written by  Emma Lunn
Donna McConnell
Reviewed by  Donna McConnell
6 min read
Updated: 02 Apr 2024

Find the right insurance for your catering or food vendor business. Read about the cover options available, what type of insurance you need, and how to buy it.

If you run a catering business, insurance can help protect you against the financial impact of certain events you can’t plan for, meaning you can focus on making and serving great food. 

Whether you’re running a food van, a market stall, or a kitchen in a hotel, it’s important to have the right insurance in place to protect your catering business in case something goes wrong.  

This guide will tell you how to get protection against the costs of accidents and damage, as well as employee and public liability claims. 

What is catering insurance? 

Catering insurance is a type of business insurance designed specifically for catering companies. 

It’s advisable to have catering insurance to protect your business from a range of unforeseen circumstances – anything from a power cut ruining a fridge full of food, to your equipment being stolen, or a client refusing to pay an invoice. It will also protect you if a caterer’s worse nightmare happens – an outbreak of food poisoning caused by your food.  

Exactly what cover you’ll need depends on your set-up – insurance isn’t mandatory for all catering companies, but it makes sense to protect your business. Premiums are relatively cheap in return for thousands of pounds worth of cover. 

Types of insurance you might need include business insurance, public liability insurance for catering, food vendor insurance, and business interruption insurance. There are also certain types of catering cover you might benefit from if you’re self-employed or run a small business.  

Chefs working in commercial kitchen

What types of businesses need catering insurance? 

Types of businesses that should consider catering insurance include: 

  • street food vendors 

  • fast food outlets 

  • coffee and food vans 

  • cafes and restaurants 

  • pubs 

  • ice cream vans 

  • caterers for weddings and corporate events 

What protection does catering insurance offer my business? 

Catering insurance can protect you, your business, and your staff from a number of risks associated with making and selling food. 

Some of the things that might go wrong include:  

  • customers getting food poisoning after eating your food 

  • someone having an allergic reaction to an ingredient 

  • loss or damage of kitchen equipment 

  • break-ins and theft 

  • a cyber-attack putting you or your customers’ data at risk 

  • a member of the public being injured (i.e. slipping over in a cafe) 

  • an employee being injured (i.e. suffering a burn in the kitchen) 

  • a fire or flood meaning you cannot open your establishment 

  • contract disputes with suppliers or customers 

What sort of catering insurance does my business need? 

There are various types of cover that can protect your catering business.  

Exactly what cover you need will depend on the type of business you run, your premises, and whether you employ any staff. 

Some types of cover you might need are explained below. 

The Employers' Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act 1969 makes it compulsory for anyone who has one or more employees to have employers' liability insurance. There are a couple of exceptions to this, such as if you only employ family members or only use independent/self-employed contractors. 

Employers’ liability insurance covers the legal and compensation costs you’ll be required to pay if an employee gets injured or becomes ill because of the work they do for you. For example, if you fail to train staff properly and a member of staff injures themselves whilst using a machine at work, they could file a claim against you. 

This covers your business if you cause an injury to a member of the public or accidentally damage someone's property, and they sue you for costs. 

For example, a customer might trip over a cable in your restaurant, or a member of staff might accidentally spill a drink on a customer’s smartphone. 

  • Product liability insurance 

This provides cover if your catering business supplies or sells a product that causes a customer or member of the public to suffer in some way. In catering, this includes food poisoning and allergic reactions to certain foods. As a professional caterer, you need to ensure that all food you serve is cooked and properly prepared, with any allergen information clearly labelled and explained. 

This type of cover protects your equipment and other items against being stolen or damaged during an insured event (such as a fire or flood). 

Catering businesses tend to use a lot of equipment such as food processors, ovens, coffee machines and refrigeration. Some types of business might take items to a client’s venue – for example, if you took cooking equipment to cater for an outdoor wedding. Some policies also include cover for equipment breakdown. 

Contents cover can also ensure the technology products necessary to run your business, such as smartphones, computers, electronic tills and payment devices.  

  • Stock cover 

Stock insurance covers the cost of replacing spoiled or stolen food produce. For example, if you have bought ingredients for a catering event and your fridge breaks down and the food goes off.  

Stock insurance can also provide cover if you transport food to a venue and something happens to it on the way. 

This could help to cover any loss of income while your catering business is unable to operate. For example, if you can’t open your market stall due to a flood or fire.   

Business interruption cover can also help if your main supplier or customer suffers damage to their premises and can't trade, causing a knock-on effect to your business.  

  • Theft of takings 

If you accept cash payments, this covers money up to certain limits stolen from you in transit, from a safe, or on you while you're working at other premises, such as your clients' premises. 

  • Commercial property insurance 

If you own your business premises, this can cover the cost of repairing or rebuilding the structure, plus any permanent fixtures and fittings, after an insured event such as a flood or fire. 

  • Legal expenses 

This covers the costs of lawyers and solicitors in the event of many common legal problems, such as contract disputes with suppliers, clients or employees.  

  • Catering van insurance  

Depending on the type of catering business you run, you might have a food truck, trailer or delivery vehicle. If you are a mobile caterer, you might need a specialist mobile catering van and trailer insurance policy. This will cover your business use when travelling to different catering locations, and also provide cover for your catering vehicle and permanent fixtures and fittings. Catering van insurance should include fire cover – this is particularly important if you are cooking hot food or using electrical appliances on board. 

  • Cyber cover 

This type of cover protects against a range of cyber and data incidents such as your customer data being hacked or scammers gaining access to your bank account.  

As well as help with the loss of business income after a cyber incident, some insurance can also cover public relations and crisis management experts to minimise damage to your brand and business. 

What are common exclusions on catering insurance? 

Make sure you read what is and what isn’t covered by your catering insurance policy. The following are often policy exclusions (not covered): 

  • wear and tear of vans, trailers or equipment 

  • theft by employees 

  • theft not as a result of a break-in 

  • theft from an unattended vehicle 

  • negligence or recklessness 

  • losses arising from a pandemic (e.g. Covid 19) 

  • terrorism, riot, civil commotion or war 

  • legal expenses where there is not a realistic chance of success 

As with most other types of insurance, catering insurance policies will come with an excess which is the amount the policyholder must pay towards any claim. 

Flexible cover options 

Every catering business is different with different insurance needs.  

Catering business insurers accommodate this by offering flexible policies that can be adapted for different business types and also work for growing businesses that might open additional premises or hire more staff. 

What affects the price of catering insurance? 

According to NimbleFins, the average cost of public liability insurance for a catering business starts from around £50 for £2m of cover.  

However, premiums depend on various factors including. 

  • annual turnover 

  • whether your business is static or mobile 

  • number of employees 

  • value of equipment, vehicles and premises 

  • your cover limit 

  • where your catering business is located 

  • your business structure 

  • previous catering insurance claims 

Catering insurance policies normally run for 12 months with premiums paid annually upfront or by monthly direct debit. 

How do I buy catering business insurance? 

Catering insurance is a type of business insurance. So to buy catering insurance you should compare quotes for business insurance – the price comparison site or insurer will ask you questions about the nature of your business.  

Make sure you only buy the cover you need. For example, you’ll only need employee liability insurance if you employ other people.  

Compare business insurance with MoneySupermarket.