Think Before You Ink: Tattoo and Body Piercing Shop Insurance

Tattooing and body piercing have been regarded as one of the fastest-growing industries in the last 20 years, and the industry continues to thrive and tighten its grip on mainstream culture.

According to an online Harris Poll, 14% of Americans have one or more tattoos. The most likely age group to be tattooed ranged from 25 to 39 years old. Men are also more likely than women to have tattoos, but this is changing.

Precautions to Take Before Getting Inked or Pierced

Do you use blood thinners? Do you have any heart problems or are you nursing? Have you had any drinks yet tonight? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are not currently a good candidate for a tattoo.

Other health risks to consider include:

• Allergic reactions (particularly to red dye) can cause an itchy rash at the tattoo site that can last for years.

• Swelling, drainage, and pain are all symptoms of bacterial infections.

• If the tattoo equipment has not been properly sterilized, you may be at risk of contracting deadly blood-borne diseases such as hepatitis, tetanus, and HIV. Contact your doctor if you are experiencing pain or discomfort, or if you believe your tattoo is infected. Tattoo inks are classified as cosmetics, and thus are not regulated or approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Questions for the artist include:

• Who is going to do the tattooing or piercing?

• Is the artist well-trained?

• Do you have access to the artist’s previous work?

• Is the tattoo or piercing artist going to wear gloves?

• Does the artist use appropriate equipment?

• Is disposable equipment sterilized with an autoclave, as is all unused and non-disposable equipment?

• Has the entire area been disinfected since the last time it was used?

How to Take Care of Your New Tattoo:

• After 24 hours, remove the bandage and apply an antibiotic ointment.

• Keep the tattooed skin clean by washing it gently with plain soap and water and patting it dry.

• Use a gentle moisturizer on the tattooed skin several times per day.

• Avoid exposing the tattooed area to direct sunlight for at least a few weeks.

• Avoid wearing clothing that will cling to the tattoo.

• Give the tattoo up to two weeks to heal before picking at any scabs. is the source.

Although these changes were once frowned upon, today even the most prim and proper members of society are likely to be hiding intricate, inked artwork beneath their designer suit jackets. And, just as customers must take precautions before going under the buzzing needle at a tattoo studio, tattoo and body piercing studios must take precautions 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 provides general liability coverage, including slips and falls and libel and slander coverage, as well as professional coverage, which protects clients from injury or harm while being inked. However, waivers and consent forms are now important in protecting 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.”
Instead of inquiring about insurance coverage, Phillips advises potential clients to inquire about safety and sanitation, and to double-check their body art tracing before the needle begins 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 incorrect or misspelled, the tattoo artist is not liable.

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