Over the years many things have changed within the beauty industry. There is now more choice than ever for training, accreditation and insurance as well as products and machines. One of the more alarming changes has been the rise in non-therapists being able to train in any aspect of the industry without meeting the legal pre-requisites needed. For many of those that have spent many years of study, and many thousands of pounds on education they are growing increasingly irritated with the fact anyone can be trained in any aspect of the industry with no prior knowledge. Some argue that short courses are not as good as studying for longer periods of time and gaining relevant NVQs in their subject area. Medics in particular are putting the industry under the spot-light yet again, with scaremongering the general public that therapists should not be performing certain procedures. Changes in rules surrounding PDO threads, prescribing, availability of certain POM’s to non-medics as well as machines being pulled from the market due to safety are all stress signs that changes are about to happen in the industry.
Whilst many arguments and debates arise online over the credibility of the industry as a whole, one huge factor is being overlooked, and that is your insurance cover! You may think this is not relevant to you. After all you completed an accredited course, you are trained by a training provider, and you added the treatment to your insurance policy, so you are covered right? Truth is, many people will find at the time of a claim arising, you may just find your insurance is every bit invalid due to many factors. The fault typically lies with both the training academies and the accreditation companies, however when a claim is not paid by your insurer, it is of course your own personal assets that will be claimed against in the event of a court case going in your clients’ favour.
One particularly large insurer that has become the go-to favourite of salons, therapists and aesthetic practitioners are routinely washing their hands of claims for a whole number of reasons. These insurers, just like many training academies, will grab your money off you at the drop of a hat, but when a problem arises, they will tell you it was your responsibility to have met their minimum course requirements prior to training with them.
The truth is, that without an NVQ level 3 in either A&P or Beauty Therapy, many courses that are being undertaken by therapists and non-therapists alike will not be insurable! Yes, they will provide you cover, but when the time for a claim occurs and you are unable to provide your qualifications, your policy will be invalid. This is not a ‘what if’ situation, this is very much happening to people across the UK when faced with a claim from a client. Treatments such as anti-wrinkle injections and filler, dermaplaning and microneedling, HIFU, chemical peels and mesotherapy (including fat dissolve) all require a minimum pre-requisite. Some training providers offer pathways to aesthetics, but many of these will also be totally invalid as standards vary across the UK.
If you do not have your basic NVQ level 2, 3 or 4 qualifications it may be worth speaking with your insurers and getting written confirmation that you are covered in the event of any claim. It would also be worth working towards these basic qualifications to ensure protection against future changes within the industry.
Your training may not be the only thing that stops an insurer paying out on a claim. Many other factors play a role in the claim. These include:
Paperwork & records: When a claim is entered against you, the insurer will ask for a number of documents that will be needed to provide evidence to the claimant’s solicitor and/or to be used in any court proceedings. These may or may not include;
The clients signed consent forms
Before & after images of the treatment
Proof of the client receiving patch tests
Proof of you providing the client with aftercare advice
Copies, times and dates or all correspondence via phone, email or social media (it is very important to try to keep complaints done via email for paper records should claims occur).
Copies of the incident being recorded in your accident book
Copies or evidence of all previous similar accidents and/or all previous accidents you have recorded
Copies of your certificates, training manuals or training company details
A written timeline of events/statement from the therapist/manager/salon owner with regards to the appointment and all events pre/post treatment
Service records and PAT test records for your machine and in some cases the company details or proof of CE certification
Details of products used and/or invoices for these as well as batch numbers where relevant
Copies of any risk assessments
Keeping appropriate and detailed paperwork will greatly assist and protect you in the event of a claim. Not only does it make you look professional, but also allows you to prove that you take care of all safety aspects of your business.
Patch testing: As mentioned above, many insurers will request proof that you patch tested the client prior to treating them. Keeping a signed consent that the client received this regularly and in accordance with the manufacturers and/or training given will help protect you in the event of a claim. Even if the claim is not allergy related, failure to perform something as basic as a required patch test can go in the client’s favour. It is essential you ask your insurance company what they expect you to patch test and how soon prior to treatment and how often. Many insurers may state they require you to follow manufacturers or training guidelines so make sure that you have copies of either of these and you follow them as stated.
Accident report book: This is not just for you and your staff. Any accident, even a simple trip or fall, should be recorded. You should have an area on the form that covers actions taken to prevent future reoccurrence. When a client presents with an injury, even after they leave the salon, this should be recorded in your accident book. A risk assessment should then be performed to look at how to prevent the same incident in the future. This shows an ongoing commitment to safety in your business and can be called as evidence in court during a claim.
Machine safety: Whether or not the injury was caused by faulty equipment, if the procedure involved the use of any electrical equipment, your insurer or solicitor may request certain paperwork for the machine used. When faced with a claim you may be asked to provide the following:
Proof you are trained to use the equipment
Copy of your purchase invoice/warranty or details of the company
Copy of your maintenance reports (especially for laser machines, however it is good practice to have other machines serviced too)
PAT test records
If you purchase your machines from china, eBay, Amazon or other trade sites it is very important you ensure the machine has a UK, CE certificate. If the machine is not certified or not properly serviced for use in the UK, you may find your insurance company won’t cover you in the event of a claim. For more on CE Markings, this is a really good read: https://www.glazingvision.co.uk/blog/top-questions-on-ce-marking/
Product safety: Many insurers will only cover you to use professional products that are designed and used for the intention of your treatment. Injecting in products that are topical use only or using store purchased, imported or non-registered products (not registered on the CPNP portal) may just land you in hot water. Your insurers, or the claimant’s solicitor may request evidence that you are trained to use the products safety, they are used in their intended way and that they are registered on the CPNP portal. From October 2019, the laws will likely change with regards to product registration. For more information on the registration of products in the UK & EU the following blog explains it in more detail: https://www.eurofins.com/consumer-product-testing/media-centre/news/eurofins-newsflash-march-2019-brexit-cosmetics-chemicals/
With the possibility of a recession around the corner the beauty industry will be a soft target for claims from those looking to make quick money. Protect your business and your personal assets and don’t fall foul of a claim. Follow the below tips to help protect you and your business:
Ensure you are adequately and appropriately trained and meet all the required industry pre-requisites.
Check your insurer is happy to cover you with the qualifications you currently hold.
Use only CE marked and CPNP registered products from professional suppliers that meet the minimum UK requirements.
Keep records of everything from machine maintenance to product purchases, training manuals and manufacturer’s instructions and manuals as well as PAT test records and records of first aid training, first aid supplies and all accidents recorded and assessed within your premises. Our salon owners business pack has everything you need to set up a legally compliant business https://www.salonexpert.co.uk/product-page/salon-owners-paperwork-pack.
Keep complaints in writing only! If a client wants a visit face to face, or to speak about the issue/complaint then do so in a 1-2-1 meeting and record the outcome. This can be the time to complete an accident report form and/or write up an action plan and have the client sign this after the meeting. Emails are a great way to keep a full log of what has been said or recommended. It is good practice to follow up phone calls with an email or letter to outline the call, what was implied by the client and what you may have suggested to rectify the issue etc. This allows you to keep a log of all interaction. Do not record phone calls unless your system offers this facility and clients are aware calls are recorded. Calls recorded without client knowledge can not be submitted as evidence.
Write a statement up as soon as you are aware of any complaints and keep this in a file, along with before and after images and images submitted by the client, copies of witness statements and consultation forms and correspondence in preparation to send to your solicitor/insurer in the event of a claim letter.
If you have self-employed staff, remember a claim can be brought against you the salon owner at any time! Ensure your self-employed staff are adequately trained and insured and you keep copies of any current insurance documents. You should also have insurance to cover you in case of a third-party claim.
If you have personal assets, it may be worth speaking to an accountant about the possibility of becoming a limited company. This offers you some protection as the company becomes liable for any claims, rather than you personally. However, should negligence be proved, then you may still be prosecuted as the owner of the company.
Never ignore a claim, and never try to deal with it yourself. The minute you know of a pending claim or receive solicitor letters, speak to your insurer straight away!
At the end of your career, company or retirement, you may need to obtain run off insurance. This protects you for 6 years that your clients have to bring any claim against you.
Have you experienced any issues with your insurance provider? Let us know in the comments below.