Are You Really Protecting Yourself and Your Career?
By AHP Staff
Whether you’re brand spanking new to the hair profession, or if you’ve been a licensed hairdresser or barber for a long time, chances are at some point, you will be, or have been, an employee working at a salon.
When you stepped into the employer’s office for a debriefing before you started taking clients, they no doubt showed you where your station would be, where the backbar products were stocked, where the retail display was, and what the various clean-up protocols were. When it came down to the nitty-gritty details of your job, including the pay structure, retail 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 that you’re covered by the salon policy. Maybe at the time, you didn’t even know what liability insurance was. You might have thought to yourself, “Why would a hairstylist need liability insurance?”
Hopefully, your employer explained that in our line of business, there are risks associated with the treatments performed in the salon, and clients can be accidentally harmed. They may have even cited some of the client injuries they witnessed or heard about from other hair professionals, such as burns from chemical processing, nicks from shears, or even a client slipping on conditioner on the floor and breaking an ankle.
Unfortunately, some employers won’t mention liability insurance at all, but to protect yourself and your career, and 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, and their policy will cover you, you want to be absolutely certain you are completely covered by asking them these questions:
1. “Does your liability insurance policy cover me individually?”
Many beauty professionals who work in a salon may assume the owner’s insurance will cover them should they injure a client. Under some plans, 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 you do end up scarring a client’s scalp for life, 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?”
Certain services, techniques, products, or equipment may be excluded from an employer’s liability insurance policy, so double check that all the services you are performing at the salon are included under the policy.
3. “Am I covered for services I perform outside of the salon’s physical location?”
If you provide treatments to clients, friends, or family members outside of the salon, you most likely aren’t covered by your employer’s policy. Maybe you want to go on location for a wedding party or a photo shoot, or maybe you work at a couple different salons. 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 salon owners and managers get busy and can easily set their bill aside and forget to renew their policy on time. 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 salon 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? Hair professionals 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 your client has left your chair. 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 $199/year.
Where can hairdressers and barbers find liability insurance?
You can Google anything these days, but if you want to get the best bang for your buck, Associated Hair Professionals (AHP) offers liability insurance to members of the association, along with educational resources, and business-building tools, such as a free website and legislative advocacy, all for a very reasonable price.