In 2013, NYC burlesque dancer Diane Yost sued a Manhattan salon for $150,000 after a botched dye job. She claimed a bleaching mishap burned her hair and kept her from important performances, auditions, and caused mental anguish. As incredibly dramatic as this is, this kind of scenario could happen to any hair dresser and barber. And if it does, it can seriously hurt your business.
If you’re a hairstylist or barber, your clients depend on you to help them look, and feel, their best. But no matter how careful you may be, accidents happen. Whether you are at fault or not, a cranky customer could file a claim against you, costing you hundreds of thousands of dollars. Fortunately, you can protect your assets, savings, and future earnings with the right insurance.
U.S. Barber and Hairdresser Statistics
- As of 2011, there were about 220,000 barber shops, and 210,000 beauty salons in the U.S.
- The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 13% growth in barber and hairstylist employment between 2016-2026
- The average barber makes around $28,000 per year
- The average hairdresser makes around $26,500 per year
Why Do I Need Hairstylist or Barber Insurance?
You work closely with your clients to help them achieve the look they want. Occasionally, a client may ask for some hot celeb hair style and wind up hating the results. In rare cases, a truly dissatisfied client may completely skip the scathing Yelp review and decide to file a lawsuit against you for emotional distress. Even if the court determines you’re not at fault, your legal defense costs alone can be financially devastating.
On top of just getting a bad cut, many of the tools you use have the potential to cause injury to clients, like: curling irons, scissors, hot wax, and chemical treatments. A slip of the hand or a product malfunction could lead to an accidental injury and a nasty claim against you.
Liability Coverage for Hairstylists
Like we said, a lawsuit can come from a number of places you wouldn’t expect and could cost you your savings, assets, and future earnings — maybe even your job. You can protect your financial future with the right liability coverage. Just a few hundred dollars per year on a comprehensive insurance policy is a very smart decision, compared to what’s at stake.
As a hairstylist, your insurance policy should include:
- Professional liability: This will cover emotional distress or personal injury lawsuits against you due to your acts as a professional. It provides financial help for settlement costs, damages, court fees, and your legal defense up to the limits of your policy.
- General liability: This covers slips, falls, and other types of accidents that may occur in your workspace, the client's home, or any other place where you serve your customers. It pays the injured person’s medical expenses, property damage, and pain and suffering up to your policy limits, with additional coverage for legal defense.
- Products liability: this protects you from lawsuits involving damages and injuries caused by products you sold to a customer.
- Legal liability: This pays the costs of accidental damage to the salon or spa where you rent space for your hairdresser business.
If you receive a paycheck from a salon, you may already have some of the coverage you need, but often salon coverage is built to protect the salon, not the hairdresser. Talk to your salon AND independent insurance agent for help finding any exposures and redundancies to make sure you’re fully protected for anything that may come up.
Complete Coverage for Barbers
As a barber, you probably serve a regular clientele, the majority of whom are male. Like hairdressers, barbers provide hair cutting and, in some cases, coloring and styling, too. Unlike hairdressers, barbers are typically licensed to use a razor and provide shaving and beard grooming services. Barbers also sometimes recommend chemical hair and scalp treatments to their clients.
The most important thing to know, though, is that no barber is immune to litigation. The friendliest customer may decide to sue if he feels he has lost a job opportunity or experienced humiliation because of a bad haircut. Even if a claim against you is complete nonsense, you could still end up paying hundreds of thousands of dollars just for your legal defense.
To prepare yourself properly, your liability should include:
- Professional liability: This covers injury to your client due to errors and omissions in your services. It pays medical expenses, emotional damages, court fees, and the cost of your legal defense, up to the limits laid out in your policy.
- General liability: This coverage provides financial protection from lawsuits due to third-party bodily injuries (like a nicked ear or burnt scalp) or property damage suffered in your barber shop.
- Products liability: This covers the expense of a lawsuit that comes about from injury or damages due to the products you sale. You know, pomades, special shampoos, and such.
- Workers compensation: If you’ve got someone working with you, like an apprentice barber, a janitor, or any other staff in your barber shop, workers comp is essential. It pays the medical expenses and a portion of missed wages for an employee who suffers an injury on the job.
- Contents coverage: If you own your barber shop or use an automobile to provide barber services in the homes and workplaces of your clients, you may need contents coverage to pay for loss or damage to the equipment you keep in your shop or vehicle.
Coverage for some policies starts as low as $200 per year, and can protect you from millions in litigation losses.
Coverage for Your Home-Based Hair Care Business
If you also, or even only, provide hair beautifying services out of your home, you could be exposing yourself to a number of other risks. If you depend on your homeowners insurance to cover your in-home hairdresser or barber business, your finances and your home could be at risk.
Most homeowners policies do not cover home businesses.
So, if a client accidentally slips on your front steps and suffers an injury after a haircut, your homeowners insurance may not protect you from any resulting lawsuits.
Usually you can purchase in-home business insurance as an inexpensive rider to your homeowners policy, or as a separate policy. Your in-home business policy would cover:
- General liability for slips, falls, and other accidents on site
- Damage or loss to your business property and equipment
How to Find the Best Insurance for Barbers and Hairdressers
You can choose from several different insurance carriers who specialize in liability coverage for the hair industry for the coverage you need. The trick is finding the right match for your needs and your wallet.
Getting the right coverage requires you to:
- Assess the risks you face, given clientele, location, and other factors
- Assess the options you have for coverage
- Calculate your budget for insurance coverage
You can take advantage of lawyers, accountants, and independent insurance agents to get an unbiased view of your business and weigh out your options and help make a good choice.
The Benefits of an Independent Insurance Agent
Independent insurance agents are kind of like the Google of insurance quotes. You tell them what you’re looking for, and they bring in the results. And since they aren’t tied down to one carrier, they’re free to shop around and bring multiple policy options to the table.
And it gets better, you don’t have to review the policy options alone. They’ll walk you through everything you need to know about finding the right coverage, and price, for you. But it doesn’t end with your signature. Along the way, if something bad ever happens, they’ll handle the entire claim process for you and deal with the carrier, so you can focus on your hair-ruling empire. How sweet is that?