Rules to live by – insurance matters

Insurance when you’re a freelancer can vary wildly – but it always pays to be prepared

There are so many add-ons and options when it comes to even basic salon insurance. Once you throw freelancing into the mix it can cause a real headache – realistically, what do you need?

We spoke with Gary Crowder, account director of Just Hair & Beauty Insurance, who work to find the right policies for your circumstances. First up, we look at mobile stylists and home salons…

“Insurance is not compulsory unless you employ someone – which sounds crazy, especially when you provide professional services to individuals involving products and sharps,” Gary says. “But as a professional, you need Professional Liability protection.”

Insurers or brokers who specialise in the hair and barbering sector are your best bet as they have a greater understanding of your needs.

“You need to start with a Public Liability policy that includes Treatment Risk; this covers your legal liability to pay compensation and costs in respect of accidental bodily injury to any person and accidental damage to third party property,” explains Gary. Be warned – standalone Public Liability policies have a standard exclusion relating to hairdressing/ barbering activities, so ensure that Treatment Risk is included.

“Always, always check that the policy covers your specific circumstances,” Gary adds, pointing to examples including:

  • Treatment Risk wording, which will state who is deemed ‘qualified’ (certificate/experience), what services (your service menu) are insured, how you must comply with manufacturers’ instructions (colour services) and sterilisation condition
  • Location, as not all policies cover home salons

“Skin testing, for example, becomes a contentious subject,” Gary adds. “Failing to adhere to the product label and instructions may lead to a claim not being insured. But adopting the ‘I skin test all new clients’ argument will always fall on deaf ears with insurers if there is an ongoing requirement.”

Incorporating ‘new products’, such as  colour additives mixed with colour, colourstart patches and use of the Allergy Alert Consultation and Colour Record Card (Annual Skin Test) will automatically flag up non-compliance with the standard Treatment Risk wording as they conflict with your colour house’s products or instructions. “In view of this, please contact your insurer and obtain written acceptance and confirmation prior to adopting the new services,” he suggests.

Most household contents insurers will not insure business equipment for mobile professionals and/or home salons. “Kit cover for mobile individuals should be available as an option to your Public Liability insurance, but care is needed due to inner limits (e.g. single article limits for scissor values). Equally, not all policies cover your kit in an unattended vehicle – for those situations where you need to grab a coffee, bite to eat or go to the ATM,” Gary warns.

If you operate a home salon, remember to notify the Council and your house insurer in view of the business activity and increased footfall to your property, resulting in a higher exposure to risk or loss.

A Risk Assessment should be undertaken, taking into account:

  • Accessibility of the home and location of the salon (examples: upstairs/garden room)
  • How products and tools or equipment are stored and secured
  • The changing seasons; in colder and wet months, pathways and drives become hazardous

“If in doubt, ask questions allowing you to undertake an informed decision before taking the plunge and purchasing cover,” says Gary.