As a professional esthetician, you provide services to help your clients feel beautiful and relaxed.
But, what happens if your client is not happy with the service you have provided?
Imagine while providing a relaxing facial to your client, a facial steamer malfunctions and spits boiling water onto the client’s face. A real example of a claim filed with an insurance company. The customer’s face was burned and required plastic surgery. As a result of this incident the 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 can happen. Whether due to a human error, an equipment malfunction or even an allergic reaction, the outcome is the same –an expensive lawsuit.
However, you can protect yourself against such claims.
Professional Liability Insurance Explained
As an esthetician, you see many customers every day. Unfortunately, not all of them are going to walk out of your spa as happy customers. Professional Liability insurance is designed to protect you in the event of a lawsuit. The policy will cover court fees, the cost of an attorney, and the cost to investigate the allegations against you. The policy also provides coverage for any settlements or judgments awarded against you.
Even if you are not at fault, you will still need to hire a lawyer and you will need to bear all the costs associated with defending your case. Those expenses can amount to thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The Difference Between General Liability and Professional Liability Insurance
There are two primary types of liability policies – General Liability and Professional Liability.
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. However, General Liability policies do not cover you from professional errors. They exclude any lawsuit stemming from professional advice or an action gone wrong.
Professional Liability policies specifically cover professional errors. Anything that you do as a licensed esthetician will potentially be covered.
Possible Claim Scenarios
Some of the 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 harsh chemicals and provide laser treatments. As hard as you try to avoid making a mistake, sometimes they’ll happen, and often they won’t even be your fault.
Imagine that a client insists on finishing a treatment against your recommendations. This certainly puts you in a bad situation with the risk of burns resulting from sensitive skin to allergic reactions to the products you use potentially occurring. While you are not at fault for these things happening, that does not mean you cannot be sued and even found culpable.
Does the spa owner’s policy cover individual Estheticians?
Here are some important facts to consider when deciding if you should purchase your own coverage as a professional esthetician:
- 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.
- Individual coverage – Sometimes 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 their policy may not cover you. You will need to cover the cost of your lawyer, court fees and pay your share in any settlements.
It’s important to double check with your employer to find out who exactly the insurance covers. If there are doubts, a separate policy may be in order.
- The scope of coverage – Often, only certain procedures are protected by the insurance policy. Insurance may have been taken out by the owner before certain services were offered. If the owner hasn’t updated the insurance policy to include these new services, they will not be covered.
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.
The Cost of Esthetician Professional Liability Insurance
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 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. 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.
How to Protect Yourself Against Litigation
Estheticians are particularly 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.
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 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].