Are You Really Protecting Yourself and Your Career?
By AHP Staff
Whether you are a newly licensed esthetician, or you’ve been in the skin care business for years, chances are at some point, you will be, or have been, an employee working at a spa.
The first day you arrived at the spa for your orientation, the manager probably gave you a tour of the spa and showed you where your treatment room would be, where the backbar products were stocked, and where the retail display was. They certainly took you through the various set-up and clean-up protocols. When you and the manager sat down to finalize some details of your employment, such as the pay structure, retail and service commission, employee benefits, etc., did they ever mention liability insurance? Some employers will require you provide your own personal liability insurance, whereas other may tell you you’re covered by the spa’s policy. If you were fresh out of school, you might not have even known what liability insurance was! You might have had that deer-in-the-headlights look and thought to yourself, “I thought only doctors needed that kind of insurance.”
If your esthetic school didn’t cover this topic, hopefully your employer explained that in the skin care business there are risks associated with the treatments and services we perform, and clients can be accidentally harmed. They may have even cited some of the client injuries they witnessed or heard about from other spas and estheticians, such as burns from a chemical peel, skin tearing or lifting during a wax, or even a client tripping on the cord to a steamer and breaking an ankle.
Unfortunately, some employers won’t mention liability insurance at all, but to protect you and your career, it may be up to you to ask some questions that could potentially save you thousands of dollars if you have a client mishap.
If your employer says you don’t need personal insurance coverage because their policy will cover you, you’ll want to be certain you are completely covered by asking them these questions:
1. “Does your liability insurance policy cover me individually?”
Many estheticians who work in a spa may assume that the owner’s insurance will cover them should they injure a client. Be careful what you assume. If only the business name is listed on the policy, then only the business is protected. If your employer’s policy does not name you individually, then you are not individually covered. If you are personally named in a lawsuit, and the employer’s policy doesn’t cover you, you will be expected to pay your own attorney’s fees, court costs, and share of the settlement. There are no rules as to who can be named in a lawsuit, and if do end up scarring a client’s face, do you really think they aren’t going to sue you along with the employer?
2. “Does your policy cover every type of service I perform at work?”
Many traditional insurance companies don’t understand what estheticians do. They may not cover services you’re performing every day at the spa. Many insurance companies will not cover lash extensions, Brazilian waxing, or even chemical peels! They may also exclude the use of some equipment or tools, such as microdermabrasion machines or blades for dermaplaning. Double check that all the services you are performing at the spa are included under the policy.
3. “Am I covered for services I perform outside of the spa’s physical location?”
If you provide treatments to clients, friends, or family members outside of the spa, you most likely aren’t covered by your employer’s policy. Maybe you want to go on location to do make-up for a wedding party or you are providing facials at a baby shower. Maybe you work at a couple different spas. Whatever the case may be, most business policies will not cover you once you leave the premises. If you plan to work outside of your employer’s physical place of business, you will need individual insurance that covers you anywhere you work.
4. “Is your policy current?”
Even the most competent spa owners and managers get busy and can easily forget to renew their policy on time. And things to get lost in the mail, including bills. If you injure a client and the policy has lapsed, you won’t have coverage and the financial burden may fall on you.
Even if all these questions check out, a client can still file a claim or lawsuit against you personally and may not even mention the spa where you work. That situation might not be covered by your employer whatsoever—you’ll need to have your own insurance.
If you’re unsure about employer coverage, why take the risk? Legal fees and court costs can be substantial—even when you aren’t found liable. Why take the chance of losing everything you’ve worked so hard for and possibly threaten your future earnings? Estheticians who are serious about protecting their livelihoods and their careers realize that insuring themselves is not only a smart decision, but a necessary one as well.
What should I look for in a liability insurance policy?
Your policy should include professional, general, and product liability. Many business policies will help you out with slips, trips, and falls, but not with accidents that occur during a service, or chemical reactions that may happen after the client leaves your treatment room. You should have all three types of liability insurance to be fully covered. You will also want to see if there is a deductible you would have to pay before the claim would be covered.
How much will liability insurance cost me?
Fortunately, these policies can be very inexpensive. You can find comprehensive coverage for as little as $259/year.
Where can estheticians find liability insurance?
You can Google anything these days, but if you want to get the best bang for your buck, Associated Skin Care Professionals (ASCP) offers comprehensive liability insurance to members of the association, along with extensive educational resources, business-building tools such as a free website, client treatment forms, legislative advocacy, and more, all for a very reasonable price.