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Know Your Risk Management

By: Sallie Deitz
Posted: June 2, 2009, from the June 2009 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

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Obtain professional and general liability insurance. This is particulary important if you are working as an independent contractor. Insurance professionals say it may not be enough to have professional liability insurance if you work as an independent contractor, particularly in the event one is named individually in a claim. Case in point, according to Samantha Strickler of Strickler Insurance, “… if you are working for a salon as an independent contractor and you leave the wax machine on and a fire ensues, the salon owner’s general liability insurance will cover the business’ recovery expenses; however, the owner could ask you for expenses, which would be out-of-pocket if you do not have appropriate coverage.” Strickler continues, “The take-home here is, in addition to having professional liability insurance as an independent contractor, it is wise to have general liability insurance as well.”

Use appropriate documentation and conventional charting methods. It’s important to document any deviations from the normal protocol of a treatment or service. Moreover, “papering your file” with as much documentation as possible is another recommendation Strickler further says, “If a claim does occur against you, you can paint a picture for your defense with your documentation. Without it, you may be proven negligent.”

Take a good look at your employer’s insurance policy with yourself in mind. Katie Armitage, president of Associated Skin Care Professionals, says, “Many skin care professionals who work in spas, salons and physicians’ offices mistakenly believe their employer’s coverage protects them. If a claim is made, your employer’s policy may not cover you if you are named in the claim. It is unlikely to cover your court costs, legal expenses and settlement fees. Review your employer’s policy carefully and read the fine print, otherwise you are at risk.

“Employers often assume their staff members are protected because they don’t fully understand their own insurance policy,” Armitage adds. “One of our own staff members owns a small day spa and made this mistake. When she came to work for us and learned more about insurance, she dug deeper and discovered her staff was not covered. An employer might also forget a payment or fail to renew a policy, leaving staff at risk. Most often, an employer’s policy will not cover you if you work in locations outside the business premises or offer services out of your home. Also, some treatment or techniques you provide may not be covered by your employers’ policy. If your employer’s insurance doesn’t cover you, guess who’s responsible for those costs? You are.”

Add a client waiver statement to your informed consent document. This will help absolve you of any liability if a client refuses to seek medical attention as recommended. Often clients become like family members or friends, and some professionals become more lax in these instances. However, if your client has a medical condition, you absolutely need to refer her to a medical professional and should reschedule the treatment until she has been seen by a dermatologist or qualified health care authority.