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Everything you need to know about tools insurance

Tradespeople face constant threats from tool theft, loss and damage. This article looks at how insurance for work tools can provide financial support if it happens.

Not having the tools you need for a job is more than just frustrating. It can quickly put a dent in your profits if you have to delay or cancel work.

Why tradespeople should consider tools insurance

Stolen, lost or damaged tools can be an unfortunate fact of life for tradespeople. It can happen where you’re working, from your van or while you’re travelling on a job.

The Federation of Master Builders reports that 83% of UK builders have fallen victim to tool theft. The FMB says the average value of stolen tools is £2,500.

Insurer Direct Line estimates that tools valued at over £66 million were stolen from tradespeople’s vehicles in 2022. The figure works out as a tool being stolen every 15 minutes.

What tool insurance is available?

Insurance for work tools for is usually available as a standalone product from insurers. It can also be included in other business insurance.

Having insurance for your tools is not something you are legally required to have. But it can make good business sense to have financial backup if your tools go missing or break.

Often, cover for tools is part of general tradesperson insurance packages. It can also appear in handyman insurance. Tools insurance can also be part of public liability insurance (which can be a requirement in order to work with certain clients or trade associations).

While other insurance products might cover your workplace or even your work, they may not cover tools when you work remotely. So, if you are working at a customer’s home then you might need separate insurance for your tools.

Insurance cover for different trades

Here are examples of trade-specific insurance that might cover tools:

If you’re thinking about getting tools insurance, it’s probably best to take a wider view of your insurance needs. This is especially true if you’re going into a niche trade, such as starting a blacksmithing business.

By reviewing all the types of business insurance you might need, you can avoid overlaps. That way, you won’t be paying twice for the same tools insurance.

Protect the tools of your trade

Get the right insurance to cover you, your work and your assets

Find out more

How tools insurance works

Insurance for tools at work covers a number of situations. As well as the tools themselves, it also relates to where they are kept and who uses them.

If you make a claim on your policy, the lost, stolen or broken tool can get replaced, or a payment will be made to you.

Most insurance policies come with a compulsory excess. This is the amount you have to pay towards any claim. It’s important to ensure you can cover the excess payment, and that you consider what the claim would be worth after the excess is paid.

What tools insurance covers

Insurance for tools at work includes many types of equipment. They tend to be smaller items – usually handheld, including power tools.

Insurance products often extend beyond tools to include other types of trade equipment. Here are some examples:

  • Angle grinders
  • Blow torches
  • Drills
  • Hammers
  • Lawnmowers
  • Saws
  • Screwdrivers
  • Steps
  • Vacuum cleaners
  • Workbenches
  • Wrenches

cordless combi drill laying on a workbench

Getting insurance for your work tools could also protect the following if they’re used in connection with your business:

  • Cameras
  • Digital equipment, such as surveying equipment
  • Mobile phones
  • Laptops
  • Smart devices

However, be sure to check policy details and make sure you have the right cover.

Protection available with insurance for work tools

Insurance for trade tools can pay out on:

  • Theft or loss
  • Damage – including accidental damage
  • Vandalism
  • Theft from a van or vehicle (including overnight depending on your policy)
  • Equipment on hire by your business

Tools insurance often won’t necessarily cover:

  • Normal wear and tear
  • Faulty equipment
  • Tools left in a van for a long period
  • Damage to unsecured tools stored off-site

However, insurers’ policies vary widely. Always check carefully what you’re getting. For example, a policy with wear and tear cover might be a cost-effective choice for your business.

Protect the tools of your trade

Get the right insurance to cover you, your work and your assets

Find out more

Tools insurance for vans

When it comes to protecting your tools, one of the weak spots for many tradespeople is their van. Research referenced by RAC calculates that over a 40-year career, a tradesperson will lose an average of six days’ work and £10,000 due to tool theft.

While most tools insurance has sections that cover items kept in vans, not all do. Most policies will also include some exclusions.

For example, a claim will be declined if you haven’t followed the insurer’s requirements. These generally relate to security measures, such as a manufacturer-approved alarm on a van, a tool safe or wheel locks for trailers. Always check your policy documents for full details.

A builder using construction plant

Tools insurance for employees

Here again, you’ll need to check what the insurer is offering. Any given policy will vary according to:

  • How many employees are named in the policy
  • Whether they use their own tools for work

How much you can claim

Insurers vary in the cover they provide for. Make sure to check your policy documents, as there may be limits on:

  • A maximum amount you can claim each per year
  • A maximum amount you can claim per item

The amount you can claim will vary according to the insurer. Typically, this can be up to £10,000, and up to £1,000 per item.

How much insuring your tools will cost

The amount you can insure your tools for will vary from insurer to insurer. Your trade has no bearing on the cost of insurance.

Not all tools can always be covered by tools insurance. Larger and more expensive items might need to be insured separately. Always read your policy documents to make sure you have the coverage you need.

Protect the tools of your trade

Get the right insurance to cover you, your work and your assets

Find out more

The cost of insuring tools will depend on a number of factors, including:

  • Your level of excess (the amount of any claim that you pay)
  • How many tools you insure
  • The type of tools you insure
  • The nature of your trade
  • Where you keep tools overnight

If you’re looking for somewhere to start with insurance, then we can help. Checkatrade members can save 20% on their Public Liability Insurance*. Log in to our Member’s Area today to see the latest deals. As well as claiming 20% off the cost of PLI, find out how much you could save on other cover, including getting your tools insured.

Protecting your tools and equipment

Of course, it’s better not to have to claim for tools that get stolen, damaged or lost. Here are some of the ways you can reduce the risks:

Practical protection steps

  • Remove batteries and chargers from electrical tools when not using them and store them separately
  • Buy lockable tools
  • Plan ahead – only take tools you need out on jobs

Track your tools

  • Register tools – usually when you buy them
  • Make a note of tool serial numbers (which is helpful for insurance claims)
  • Mark tools using invisible ink or engrave them (often with your postcode)
  • Use GPS tracking for larger tools

Secure your tools

  • Store tools securely
  • Keep tools out of sight
  • Don’t leave tools unattended when you’re not using them
  • Avoid storing expensive tools in your van overnight
  • Install tracking devices on tools
  • Install CCTV in workplaces
  • Install alarms in vans or buildings where you keep tools
  • Use a tool safe
  • Park your van carefully in places that reduce the risk of break-ins like well-lit, well-populated areas – or in a garage or secure yard
  • Use wheel lock for vans and trailers

FAQs

Why does it make business sense to have tools insurance?

If it would be hard or impossible for you to work without tools, then tools and equipment insurance might make a lot of sense to help financially protect your business – and your profits.

Do I need tools insurance for vans?

Any tools that you carry in a van might be vulnerable to theft. The risk can be even higher if you leave them in a van overnight. Check your policy documents for the full details of your cover, including where your tools are stored.

What insurance for employees’ tools do I need?

You might need your insurance to cover employees who use them. Check what your insurer offers. You can also buy tools insurance that covers tools owned by employees and used by them at work.

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Content disclaimer: This content has been created for general information purposes and should not be taken as formal advice. Read our full disclaimer here. Enro Ltd t/a Superscript is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

* As you’d expect, terms and conditions apply.The discount offer of 20% off Public Liability for Checkatrade Members (‘the Offer’) is only available to Checkatrade Members who are new Superscript customers. The Offer will be applied to your Superscript policy for a lifetime (applied continuously at renewal). You will be informed of any price changes in good time, prior to the anniversary of your policy.

The Offer will not apply to cancellation fees, and cannot be retrospectively applied. In the event that you cancel your Superscript policy within the first 6 months of cover, we reserve the right to deduct, withhold or charge the total value of the Offer from any payments due to or from you. To be eligible, you must have been directed from Covea or Checkatrade by clicking on the appropriate link or receiving an email directly. The Offer is not assignable.

The Superscript  Offer will be automatically applied to your account by Superscript. It will be applied each month, regardless of annual or monthly payment option selection. There is no cash alternative. The Offer cannot be used in conjunction with any other Superscript offer, voucher or promotional benefit. The Offer is subject to eligibility requirements. We reserve the right to withdraw the Offer at any time. Terms and conditions are subject to change and you may not be informed.

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