As a professional esthetician, you provide services to help your clients feel more beautiful and more relaxed than before they stepped foot in your spa.
But what happens if a service goes wrong?
There is nothing more horrifying than an accident happening right in front of your own eyes. Imagine a relaxing facial experience that you are providing to your client. Out of the blue, a facial steamer malfunctions and spits boiling water onto the client’s face. Oh, the horror!
The above example is an example of an actual claim that was filed with an insurance company. The customer’s face was burned and required plastic surgery. This customer sued the spa and the esthetician and was awarded a little over $32,000 according to ASCP’s website.
As hard as you try to avoid these situations, they will happen. Whether due to a human error, an equipment malfunction or an allergic reaction, the outcome is the same –an exhausting and expensive lawsuit.
So how can you protect yourself against such claims? And if it wasn’t enough how can you make sure that if you do find yourself in a sticky situation, you have ample guidance throughout the process from the minute the incident happens and until it is fully resolved?
In this blog post, we want to talk about professional liability insurance for estheticians.
Let’s take a look at the coverages that this insurance policy provides, claim examples and what to look out for when purchasing this essential policy. We’ll also discuss the policy’s potential cost (although of course, it can vary greatly) and the factors that affect it.
What is professional liability insurance?
As an esthetician, you see many customers a day. Unfortunately, not all of them are going to walk out of your spa as happy customers. Professional liability insurance, otherwise known as an errors & omissions policy, is designed to protect you in a case of a lawsuit. The policy will cover the court fees, the cost to hire an attorney and the cost to investigate the allegations against you. The policy also provides coverage for any settlements or judgments awarded against you.
It’s important to note that the policy will cover the cost of defending you whether or not you are found guilty. Even if you win the lawsuit, you still need to hire a lawyer and bear all the costs associated with proving and defending your case. As we all know, lawyers are not cheap. That expense alone can amount to thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The difference between General Liability and Professional Liability insurance
When you get a quote for a liability policy or discuss a liability policy with the spa owner (more on that below), it’s important to specify what kind of liability policy you are referring to.
There are two primary liability policies, applicable to you as an esthetician – general liability and professional liability. Many think that if you have a general liability policy, then you are covered for any professional errors as well. This could not be farther from the truth. In fact, your general liability policy will exclude any lawsuit stemming from professional advice or an action gone wrong.
A general liability policy insures you against negligence towards others resulting in bodily injury or property damage. An example of a general liability claim would be a customer tripping, falling and sustaining injuries from the fall while at the salon.
Recommended reading: General Liability vs Professional Liability insurance
Unlike a general liability, professional liability insurance specifically covers professional errors. Anything that you do as a licensed esthetician will potentially be covered.
Possible claim scenarios
Let’s take a look at the exposures you have as an esthetician and possible claim scenarios to illustrate the importance of a professional liability policy.
Your main exposures as a salon esthetician involve burns and allergic reactions. If you are a medical esthetician, you carry even more risk since you work with harsher chemicals and using laser treatments. As hard as you try to avoid making a mistake, sometimes they’ll happen and occasionally it won’t be your fault at all. Imagine that a client insists on finishing a treatment against your recommendations. This certainly puts you in a bad situation if something was to occur.
– You apply a chemical peel treatment on client’s face. However, the client has sensitive skin and the peel results in chemical burns
– You start a bikini wax treatment and stop the procedure because you see that the skin is too tender. The customer insists on finishing the treatment and gets a wax burn as a result.
– Hair removal burns
– A client’s skin does not respond well to the skin rejuvenation treatment
– A vascular/leg vein treatment does not go as planned
– A client sues you after burns following a procedure involving laser
It’s important to note that if you provide micro-pigmentation or permanent makeup services, finding coverage might be a challenge as these are considered very risky.
Does the spa owner’s policy cover individual estheticians?
If you work for a spa, you might be asking – do I need my own policy? Wouldn’t the spa owner’s policy cover me?
As many answers in the insurance field go, the answer is “it depends.”
Here are a few issues to be aware of when considering not purchasing your own insurance, and instead trusting your employer to cover you:
- Treatments performed outside of the spa – Your employer’s professional liability insurance policy will only cover the work of estheticians when they work on behalf of the spa. Any work that you do on the side will be specifically excluded. Consider if you have ever performed treatments for clients at their home or your home, separately from your work at the salon. If this is the case, you definitely need a separate policy to protect yourself.
- Individual coverage – What do we mean by that? Depending on the policy’s language, often the “named insured” or the entity that is covered under the policy is only the business. That means that if you are co-named in a lawsuit as a defendant along with the spa that policy might not cover you. You will need to cover the cost of the lawyer, court fees and pay your share in any settlements. This can get expensive very quickly. It’s important to double check with your employer who exactly the insurance covers and if there are doubts, a separate policy might be in order.
- The scope of coverage – Is every treatment that you provide covered by the policy? It often happens that insurance is taken out by the owner, but as the business grows and more services are added, the insurance is not updated. Understanding what treatments the business’s professional policy covers can be the difference between a covered or uncovered claim.
As you can see, even though the idea of an employer’s policy covering you seems like a no-brainer at first glance, it is often not your best option.
Discussing the matter of insurance with the spa owner is crucial to understand the protection their insurance policy can provide for you.
When in doubt, consult with an experienced insurance agent to determine if you need a standalone coverage and what limits would suit your situation best. Explore the different insurance options that are available for professional estheticians like yourself, with a wide range of coverages here.
How much does esthetician professional liability insurance cost?
The cost of a professional liability policy depends on many factors. Your experience as an esthetician and location play a role but the most significant factors are the treatments that you provide and whether or not you are a salon or a medical esthetician.
As mentioned earlier, medical estheticians carry a much higher risk.
The cost for a salon esthetician starts from about $400 a year, but of course can be higher depending on the factors outlined above. It will also make a difference if you are purchasing the coverage just for yourself or need to cover additional estheticians under your policy (I.e., if you are the spa owner yourself).
The policy cost will also depend on the limits you choose. The policy will cover you up to those limits. The standard coverage begins at $1M, but higher limits can be purchased.
Perhaps more than any other industry, the estheticians are susceptible to injuries happening to their customers and lawsuits as a result. While your spa may or may not cover you under their policy, purchasing your own professional liability insurance is critical to cover all your bases in case a lawsuit happens.
We hope the blog post has answered your questions on what is professional liability insurance for estheticians and why you need it.
Professional Liability insurance is an essential tool in your preparedness toolbox. Bizinsure can provide you with instant quotes as well as human support on the other side of the screen (or the phone!). Click here to complete a short online form to receive your quotes instantly.
Associated Skin Care Professionals. (2018). Liability Insurance for Estheticians—ASCP Esthetician Insurance. [online] Available at: https://www.ascpskincare.com/liability-insurance-estheticians [Accessed 21 Aug. 2018].