Insurance for Tattoo Artists, Shops and Parlours

The tattoo industry is becoming easier to insure with policies set up just for it.

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With tattoos becoming more popular, insurers are creating products that can protect you and your business from some common risks, including:

  • A client’s nasty reaction to your ink
  • Equipment theft
  • Getting sued for a bad tat

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Risks you might face running a tattoo studio

All businesses carry risk, but with the health and wellbeing of your customers so fundamental to your practice, you need to be especially careful. Here are scenarios that you could face when running a tattoo or piercing business:

  • Someone slips and falls in your shop. This is the classic scenario that could happen, especially if a person has been sitting in the same position for a long time and finally gets up to walk.
  • A client is unhappy with your work. There’s nothing stopping a client from suing you if they think you did shoddy work, especially if it has affected their life in tangible ways like causing them to miss work.
  • A client is injured as a result of your service. If a client gets an allergic reaction to the ink or you make a mistake and injure them, you can be liable for damages.
  • A client has an allergic reaction to moisturiser you sold them. Clients can also become injured by products you sell them, such as moisturising creams and ear stretchers.
  • You give advice that backfires. You can also be liable for giving advice that leads to someone’s illness or injury (for example, if you say it’s OK to go swimming after a week, but the tattoo hasn’t healed yet).
  • Someone vandalises or robs your shop. Of course you could end up being the victim too.

What types of insurance do tattoo parlours need?

There are three main areas of your business you need to protect if you are going to open up a tattoo studio:

  • your employees
  • your property and
  • yourself.

Bundling products

Some insurers will bundle all the necessary insurance products together into one package, making it easier for you to get all of this protection without all the fuss of building your own package. For example, a number of insurers have started selling packages specifically tailored to tattoo and piercing shops.

Whether you go with a speciality insurer or you choose to build your own package with a mainstream insurer, it still pays to know what type of cover you need.

Building and contents insurance (to protect your property)

In New Zealand, it’s usually up to the tenant rather than the landlord to insure a commercial building. So unless you are subletting from another business, you will need building insurance to cover any damage to the building.

You’ll also need contents to cover tools, equipment and products.

Theft of money (to protect your cash)

This protects your cold hard cash from loss, theft and damage – whether the cash is on you, on the premises, at your home or being transported directly to the place you plan on using it (such as the bank).

However, there are some exclusions to understand. For example you might not receive the full amount if your money was stolen outside of business hours and it wasn’t stored securely in a safe or strongroom.

Medical malpractice public liability (to protect you)

Public liability insurance protects you if someone hurts themselves on your property and decides to sue. Most public liability cases involve the property itself, for example if someone slips on the front steps and breaks their ankle.

However, there are some cases where public liability insurance will cover you if you hurt someone while providing your service, but usually only when it has nothing to do with your competence. For example, this type of policy will cover you if a client has an allergic reaction to the ink and there’s no way you could have predicted it.

You’ll probably be required to take out the “medical malpractice” version of this cover, which pays closer attention to issues of hygiene and sterility.

Medical malpractice insurance (to protect you)

This product is for those cases where your service injures someone or makes them ill, and the problem can be tied back to service that’s deemed unacceptable – for example, if you injure someone while giving them a tattoo or misjudge the size of their earlobe.

Product liability (to protect you)

Product liability insurance protects you if you sell products for people to take with them outside the shop. So if you sell moisturising cream, ear extenders or any other products, product liability insurance will cover you if they end up hurting someone.

Other insurance products

  • Glass and signs insurance. Your building insurance doesn’t include protection for glass and signage, but you can get additional protection that will cover it.
  • Equipment breakdown. This lets you insure equipment so that if it malfunctions, you can get it repaired or replaced.
  • Business interruption. This protection kicks in if you have to shut down your business for any other event that you’re covered for. This could be anything from a fire that shuts you down for six months to a robbery that closes business for a week.
  • Portable items. This protects any valuable items you need to carry with you outside the shop.

What details do you need to provide the insurer?

In an attempt to weed out problem customers, your insurer will want to know a few details about your claims history, financial background and even criminal background (if any).

Here are the types of questions they might ask:

  • Have you ever been convicted of a crime?
  • Have you ever declared bankruptcy?
  • Have you ever been sued?
  • Have you ever been denied insurance?
  • Have you ever claimed for something that would have been covered by this policy?
  • Has this property ever been insured before?
  • Are you aware of any reason someone might make a claim against you?

What is a moral hazard declaration?

A moral hazard declaration is a form used by some insurers to ensure you’re not affiliated with a criminal organisation. Unfortunately, some insurers still associate tattoo parlours with biker gangs, so they’ll ask you to take this extra step and declare whether or not you belong to any of the named clubs considered to be an Outlaw Motorcycle Clubs by the Organised and Financial Crime Agency of New Zealand.

When will you not be covered?

Your insurance will have a list of exclusions that includes situations that aren’t covered at all, as well as activities that will void your cover. You probably won’t have any luck if your claim involves any of the following:

  • You altered your business or premises in a way that increased your risk.
  • Your building was unoccupied for a long period of time.
  • You’re claiming for obsolete equipment you no longer use.
  • You acted fraudulently or intentionally.
  • You failed to comply with relevant laws and regulations.
  • The claim is related to electronic data, unless the data issues led to someone being mentally or physically injured.
  • The claim was related to war, terrorism or other conflict.
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