Aesthetics insurance 2021 claims trends and what to expect for 2022 - Hamilton Fraser


Increasing Claims in Aesthetic Practices: Insights and TipsThe year 2021 saw terms such as zoom face’, ‘maskne’ and ‘lockdown lift’ enter our vocabulary, thanks to the COVID pandemic. Despite numerous lockdowns, it was still a busy year for aesthetic practitioners, with spikes of appointments as people returned to what became known as the ‘new normal’.

Recent research from ‘The Beautified Britain Index: The Skin Report’, released by Dr Yusra Clinic, revealed that consumers took their skincare much more seriously last year, with searches for ‘aesthetic treatments’ and ‘tweakments’ soaring 50 per cent between January 2020 and July 2021, and ‘best skin care’ searches rising 89 per cent in the same period.

However, with increased treatments comes a surge in claims. Here, we review claims data collated in 2021, with insights and tips from Emma Bracchi, Senior Client Services Technician at Hamilton Fraser.

What is a claim?

There are various reasons why you may need to make a claim in the aesthetics industry, and they tend to fall into two broad categories – patient complaints (typically treatment outcome related), and business-related claims related to causes such as a fire, flood, denial of access, or a pandemic.

Business interruption claims

In the light of the pandemic, business interruption claims have unsurprisingly soared in the last two years for aesthetic business owners, with Hamilton Fraser seeing a staggering 8850 per cent increase in comparison to 2019 (pre-pandemic).

“All the business interruption claims we received were for loss of income whilst clinics had to close. There were limits implemented for infectious disease cover so, depending on the client’s insurer, claims were capped at three months and were limited to payouts of £100,000 or 10 per cent of the sum insured (whichever was the lesser).” – Emma Bracchi, Senior client Services Technician

Insurance brokers like Hamilton Fraser have significantly helped hundreds of aesthetic businesses during this difficult time, however all insurers across the board now have an exclusion on policies for COVID-19 and communicable diseases.

Treatment claims

There are two main types of treatment complaints – dissatisfactions and reportable claims.

“A dissatisfaction is when a patient is unhappy with a result, or the treatment did not work – it did not inflict bodily harm, but the patient feels unsatisfied. Reportable claims tend to be more serious and occur when there has been an issue with the treatment which has led to bodily injury, or if a patient has legal involvement and a solicitor’s letter has been received. In both circumstances, a practitioner should inform their insurance provider right away.” – Emma Bracchi, Senior client Services Technician

Looking back: Treatment claim trends in 2021

Claims for some of the more popular treatments such as laser, dermal filler and botulinum toxin decreased in 2021 in comparison to 2019 by 30 per cent.

“The reason claims for certain treatments decreased in 2021 is due to lockdown – the number of treatments were fewer as clinics were not open, and as a result, claims were reduced.” – Emma Bracchi, Senior client Services Technician

However, despite this, claims for other treatments increased during the same time period, including hair transplants (18 per cent), PDO threads (33 per cent) and fat dissolving (500 per cent).

Why? Emma believes that these treatments are on the rise as more celebrities and influencers on social media are having them done and are publicly showcasing their results.

“Many clinics now offer payment plans for more expensive procedures, such as fat dissolving and hair transplants, which makes them more affordable to more people. The more treatments that are carried out, the greater the chances of claims. This may not always mean that injury has occurred, it could be that patients are just not happy with the result.” – Emma Bracchi, Senior client Services Technician

Looking forward: Top tips to avoid claims in 2022

The global cosmetic surgery market registered a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.43 per cent over the forecasting years of 2022 to 2030. With the industry expanding year on year, it is more important than ever for aesthetic practitioners to be prepared for any future complaints and claims.

Emma’s top tips for avoiding claims include:

  • Try not to take a complaint too personally – claims are unavoidable in this line of business; unfortunately, litigation is common, as often there is no changing a patient’s perspective on their appearance, including following an aesthetic treatment. It is important to note that most claims do not end up in court and most can be dealt with swiftly and without admission of liability, so try not to stress too much if a claim is made against you
  • Keep your patient records safe — this includes consent forms and other patient correspondence. It is recommended to keep patient records for ten years, so that you have evidence if a claim is made at some point in the future. Be sure to make clear, comprehensive notes on patients’ files, as it will be the main defence against a claim and will provide evidence of discussions, expectations and risks that were explained to the patient during their consultation
  • Take before and after photos — when it comes to demonstrating patient consent, taking photos before and after a treatment is another effective way to provide evidence to support a claim that is brought against you. It is a requirement with some policies that before and after photos are taken for all injectable treatments, so we would advise you to take the time to familiarise yourself with your policy conditions as your cover may be affected if the conditions are not met
  • Speak to the product manufacturer — if the complaint is product specific, it may be worth speaking with the product manufacturer to see if they have received similar complaints, as they could potentially provide some recommendations
  • Invest in insurance — to avoid claims as best as possible, investing in insurance is key for aesthetic practitioners to protect their businesses, as it provides a risk transfer. Insurance brokers will take on the risks for practitioners, so that if a patient is unhappy or injured, or if you experience a business interruption (excluding COVID-19), the insurer will pay the costs associated with the claim.

The importance of investing in insurance for aesthetic practitioners

Insurance is an essential investment for any aesthetic professional and, like any investment, it’s important to look at quality, substance and a high level of support services alongside price rather than just price alone when choosing which cover is best for you.  The pandemic has highlighted more than ever that getting the right insurance and factoring that into business planning from the outset, is vital.

“When starting your aesthetics journey/career, choosing your insurance and partner should be as important a consideration as your product or your training provider. It won’t necessarily define your business but one day it could save your business. At Hamilton Fraser, we offer far more than just insurance. We constantly review the market and talk to our customers, to make sure that the service and cover we provide reflect our ever-changing environment and evolving customer needs. Our expert inhouse claims team are on hand to provide tailored support based on your individual requirements and we offer complementary JCCP membership as standard. Hamilton Fraser has seen plenty of change within the aesthetics sector since starting out in 1996 with our first customers, mainly nurses who were practising in a new health and beauty sector, aesthetic medicine. As we emerge from the pandemic, we’re looking forward to continuing to shape the future of this exciting and growing field, supporting the industry and improving standards for consumers in partnership with our customers, many of whom have been with us since the beginning.” – Mark Copsey, Associate Director at Hamilton Fraser Cosmetic Insurance

If you are a Hamilton Fraser Cosmetic Insurance customer and have a claim raised against you, or if you would like to find out more information about becoming a customer, please get in touch with the team.

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