Think Before You Ink: Tattoo and Body Piercing Shop Insurance

Think Before You Ink: Tattoo and Body Piercing Shop Insurance

The business of tattooing and body piercing has been considered one of the fastest-growing industries in the last 20 years, and it continues to thrive and tighten its hold on mainstream culture.

An online Harris Poll estimated that 14 percent of Americans have one or more tattoos. The age group most likely to be inked ranged from 25 to 39 years old. Men are also more likely to have tattoos than women, but this is changing.

Safety Precautions Before You Get Inked or Pierced
Are you taking blood thinners? Do you have heart conditions or are you nursing? Have you had a few drinks already tonight? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are not an ideal candidate to get a tattoo right now.
Other Health risks to consider:
• Allergic reactions (especially to red dye) can result in an itchy rash at the tattoo site, sometimes lasting years after you get the tattoo
• Various bacterial infections can occur and include swelling, drainage and pain.

• If the tattoo equipment has not been properly sterilized, you could be susceptible to deadly blood-borne diseases like hepatitis, tetanus and HIV. If you experience pain, discomfort, or think your tattoo may be infected, contact your doctor. It is important to remember that tattoo inks are classified as cosmetics, and therefore are not regulated or approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
Questions to ask the artist:
• Who will do the tattooing or piercing?
• Is the artist properly trained?
• Can you see the artist’s previous work?
• Will the tattoo or piercing artist wear gloves?
• Does the artist use the proper equipment?
• Is disposable equipment all unused and non-disposable equipment sterilized with an autoclave?
• Has the entire space been disinfected since the last use?

Taking care of your new tattoo:
• Remove the bandage after 24 hours and apply an antibiotic ointment.
• Keep the tattooed skin clean; and use plain soap and water and a gentle touch, then pat dry.
• Apply a mild moisturizer to the tattooed skin several times a day.
• Keep the tattooed area out of the sun for at least a few weeks.
• Do not wear any clothing that would stick to the tattoo.
• Allow up to two weeks for the tattoo to heal, and do not pick at any scabs.

Although these modifications were once looked upon in a negative light, today there is a good chance that even the most prim and proper members of society are hiding intricate, inked artwork under their designer suit jackets. And just as consumers need to take precautions before going under the buzzing needle at a tattoo studio, it is just as important for the tattoo and body piercing studios to protect themselves as well.

“Whether the studio is required to have business liability insurance depends on the state, the city, county or local regulations,” said Maggie Phillips, a business insurance consultant with ISU Insurance Services of Westlake in Westlake Village, Calif., who specializes in writing tattoo and body piercing policies. “This type of insurance has been rapidly growing for the last 10 years to compensate the growing tattoo and body art industry.”

“If [a tattoo or body piercing studio] caused an injury and someone sued them, they could be working for the rest of their lives to pay off the claim. They might lose their house or lose everything they have if they do not have insurance protection,” Phillips said, noting that newer businesses of this nature typically do not have enough money starting out to protect them in case of an accident or injury.

ISU Insurance Services of Westlake writes tattoo and body piercing shop insurance in all 50 states and offers general liability protection, which includes slips and falls and libel and slander coverage, in addition to professional coverage, which protects clients from injury or harm when being inked.  However, waivers and consent forms now play a large role in protecting the body art studios from lawsuits.

“Companies are now making it a requirement to have after-care consent forms that hold up in court,” Phillips said. “It’s similar to renting a bicycle and signing a form that says, ‘If I fall off, it’s my fault.’”

“If a person walked into a tattoo studio and the first words out of their mouth were asking if the studio had insurance, the tattoo artist or piercer would probably tell them to go to the tattoo parlor down the street,” Phillips said. “It’s like going into a new hairdresser and asking them if they have insurance, and you just wouldn’t do that.”

Phillips says rather than asking about insurance coverage, potential clients should ask questions about safety and sanitation, and ensure their body art tracing is perfect before the needle starts inking.

“This does not cover mistakes,” Phillips said. “When words need to be spelled out, the tattoo artist will trace the design first [onto the client’s skin] and ask the person to OK it, and usually they will initial the design. If something is wrong or misspelled, the tattoo artist would not be held liable.

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