Tuesday, 21 May 2019 01:39

Infections, Insurance, and Preparing for the Inevitable

Written by Susan Preston

The world is full of strange diseases and how people pick them up is often one of the great mysteries of life. Once a person has an infection, they will likely assign blame to the last known service or treatment they received. If that treatment was at a spa, there could be a claim.


Staph infections can happen if a person has an extended stay in a hospital or other medical facility. And, they can remain dormant until that individual goes to get a procedure, such as permanent cosmetics or microblading. The tattoo-like service could trigger an outbreak of the infection already in the body. The person getting the permanent cosmetics will then assume they got the infection from the procedure. This has led to a good number of lawsuits over the many years we have insured the industry.


It is almost impossible to prove the infection came from the permanent cosmetic procedure if the professional used proper sterilization and sanitary procedures. These guidelines are regulated by OSHA standards and numerous state laws, so they are well established. This can be a strong defense in a lawsuit; however, it cannot stop a lawsuit from occurring.



It is crucial to have communicable disease coverage on the insurance policy for any professional who breaks the skin. It is also important to have an insurance company experienced in covering permanent cosmetics; otherwise, the client might assume the professional caused the infection. This is not a reputation any business wants to have.


A recent claim we had involved infection allegations from eyebrow threading. What often happens with many types of procedures is that the person getting the treatment chooses not to follow the aftercare guidelines. In the case of this claim, the person alleged she got cellulitis from the salon. She was asked to provide medical proof that is where it came from. She could not do it. To close out the claim, the insurance company gave her $400 of no-fault medical payments to cover her doctor visit.


On most professional and general liability policies, there is some medical payment limit. This is essentially medical reimbursement coverage that does not require the claimant to prove the salon made a mistake or was negligent. Often, an insurance company will provide a low amount of medical payment reimbursement in an effort to avoid a costly lawsuit.



A few years back, a client of ours did a microdermabrasion procedure on a woman. The skin can be very sensitive for a few days after this treatment. This needs to be clearly spelled out in the aftercare guidelines and needs to be reviewed prior to the procedure. In this case, the woman getting the microdermabrasion was going on a motorcycle ride two days later in the hot summer sun. Things did not go well and she ended up with an infection. Our client ended up with a lawsuit. The ultimate payout was around $75,000, even though the salon was not entirely at fault.


The professional must be sure their client understands aftercare guidelines. In fact, if the aesthetician knew about the motorcycle ride, she probably should have told the client to come back when it was over. If there is a known contraindication to a service, the client should be turned down until it is remedied.


Lately, we are seeing a good number of Brazilian waxing infection claims. This is one of those areas that people get overly stressed out about if there is an infection. One lady was so upset about her alleged infection that she said she could not consummate her marriage and thus sued our client. It turned out she already had three children with her new husband, so the claim did not get very far.


Again, it is important to provide written aftercare instructions and a signed statement from the client saying they will follow them. Some waxing professionals provide the appropriate aftercare products to be used. If this is done, be sure these products are clearly meant for the waxing procedure and have stood the test of time.


There is an increase in liability claims and the amount claimants are asking for. Professionals are advised to treat every client the same, including friends, family, and business colleagues. All proper business disclosures and aftercare should be part of the pre-service consultation.


Susan Preston 2019Susan Preston has been at the forefront of insurance program innovation since 1993 when she founded Professional Program Insurance Brokerage (PPIB) in Novato, California. Preston is also the co-founder of a non-profit association setting standards for the permanent makeup industry, Society of Permanent Cosmetic Professionals (SPCP). With industry involvement, Preston and PPIB have been leaders in insurance programs for emerging markets and for the spa industry. Due to the national reputation of PPIB, in 2016 and 2017, Insurance Business America Magazine named Preston one of the 144 Elite Women in Insurance. ppibcorp.com 

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