Dave Horton, Director of Associated Beauty Therapists (ABT), explains the importance of therapy insurance.

Of course, the answer as we all know is yes, yet time and time again therapists let their cover lapse, convince themselves that they only do a few treatments a week on the side or, in some cases, just simply forget altogether.

Professionalism and being responsible for our actions make insurance in our field especially important. ABT view therapists as commercial clients, i.e. working within a trade field and taking financial remuneration for their services, regardless of where the therapist works, be that home, salon or mobile. Furthermore, a therapist sometimes uses proprietary products, which can cause reactions or problems with their clients for which insurance should be obtained.

When we consider companies like ABT offer an annual insurance policy, with free membership benefits, website listings for the public to find an ABT therapist and subscription to Scratch from as little as £55 per year, is there really a reason to risk everything?

Maybe it is because life gets in the way, insurance is either a pretty boring subject, or is viewed as too complicated to understand, and anyway, no one likes spending money if they don't have to. And of course, what is going to go wrong? To answer that question, I outline by way of example three typical claims from this year so far:

Public Liability Claim:
  • Client fell, slipped and accidental injury was caused.
  • Claimant suffered a smashed vertebrae resulting in an operation to insert metal plates
  • Reserved / Paid Amount: £140,431
Treatment Risk / Product Liability Claim – Acrylic & UV Gel Nails
  • Client alleges that having had acrylic nails applied, she sustained a burning sensation on the evening. Blistering appeared, and a day later her nail beds were swollen. GP prescribed antibiotic cream and signed her off work to try and stop an infection occurring.
  • Reserved / Paid Amount: £48,970
Treatment Risk Claim – Eyelashes Extensions
  • Client alleges to have suffered an injury after eyelash extensions.
  • After attending A&E, it was confirmed that claimant had glue on the iris of the eye.
  • Reserved / Paid Amount: £8,989

Remember that as well as the financial implications, there are moral and ethical reasons to be insured. When someone is hurt, incapable of work or needs medical care as a result of your actions, directly or indirectly, it's important to take responsibility for the situation you may have caused.

For every three claims we see that go through to the stage above, there are another eight that are reported that sit on the file for six years.  Imagine getting a legal letter on your doormat, not knowing if or how to respond, or how much it might cost to defend, let alone compensation you may need to pay?  Some claims can surface years after the work was performed.

Whether the therapists did anything wrong or whether they could have been avoided are not relevant, as any allegation still has to be defended and that usually means legal fees which are not cheap!

To answer the original question, do I need insurance, let's look at the l definition of what insurance is:

“Insurance is a contract in which an individual or entity receives financial protection or reimbursement against losses from an insurance company in exchange for pre-agreed fees.”

ABT offer membership packages that offer protection to working therapists and techs from as little as £55 per year. This article is too short to detail everything that is included – www.abtinsurance.co.uk is a good place to start for this, and contains all the details you should need to make a decision. However, if you are looking to insure yourself or your business, there are a few essentials to look for when making a choice, in my opinion:

  • Make sure the policy is claims occurring wording
  • Make sure you have treatments risk or medical malpractice insurance within the package
  • Check the small print for exclusions, claims excesses, patch tests requirements, extra charges and endorsements
  • Use a company that is a specialist within the beauty and nail industry and really understands what you do

Point one above is very, very important and actually a very complex subject that is far too detailed to elaborate on in this short article, however you should really check on what basis the policy is written and in my opinion you should steer clear of ‘claims made' wordings for this industry, as they tend not to give you long term protection after you stop the policy.

The simple answer to the question of ‘Do I need Insurance' is of course a resounding ‘YES' especially when you consider insurance provided by the ABT / Zurich Insurance plc includes:

  • £6 million Professional Liability Insurance.
  • £6 million Public Liability Insurance.
  • £6 million Product Liability Insurance.
  • £6 million Medical Malpractice/Treatment Risk Insurance.
  • Comprehensive policy cover designed for ABT Members by experts with sympathetic and effective claims support
  • Free VIP trade show entry
  • Free Scratch Magazine subscription (or alternative titles)
  • Free website listings
  • Free online starter packs and support
  • Lots more benefits.

Really, why take the risk – one treatment a year or a thousand – insuring yourself or your business is essential.

Dave Horton is Director of Associated Beauty Therapists (ABT), the industry's leading membership and insurance provider representing over 18,000 clients. For more information telephone 01789 773573, email info@abtinsurance.co.uk or visit www.abtinsurance.co.uk