It is not currently a legal requirement to arrange insurance cover before carrying out aesthetic treatments, but it will come as no surprise to hear that we at Hamilton Fraser consider it a must-have. And we’re not alone – the Joint Council for Cosmetic Practitioners (JCCP) is seeking to enforce compulsory medical insurance and indemnity cover within the aesthetics sector across the UK for all practitioners in its 10-point plan for safer regulation in the sector. Hamilton Fraser is working with the JCCP to put together provisional guidance on what should be considered where insurance is concerned. And the NHS advises anyone opting to have a cosmetic procedure to make sure the practitioner they choose has the right insurance to safely carry out the procedure.
With the aesthetic industry starting to take a much closer look at standards and qualifications via the JCCP and other registers, there is now an opportunity to improve patient safety for the better. Understanding why you need insurance is a key part of that.
The financial consequences for practitioners arising from allegations of negligence relating to malpractice should not be underestimated – not to mention the risks to patients should something go seriously wrong. All sorts of unforeseen circumstances can affect your aesthetics business, potentially leaving you out of pocket or in a legal wrangle with your reputation in tatters. It’s important to make sure your policy protects you and your patients against them.
Here, we take a look at some of the specific cosmetic insurance policies that practitioners need, some of which you may not have thought of, along with the reasons why they are important.
With medical malpractice claims becoming increasingly costly, medical indemnity insurance is an essential inclusion for any cosmetic professional. Medical indemnity insurance is designed to protect you, the practitioner, against allegations of malpractice and negligence whilst administering aesthetic treatments. Without adequate cover, you will be left to defend any allegations personally, which could incur significant legal costs. If you are deemed to be at fault, compensation claims alone can run into the hundreds of thousands of pounds, and that’s before loss of earnings and other costs are taken into account.
Over the past five years, laser and dermal filler claims alone have accounted for almost half – 46 per cent – of all claims received by Hamilton Fraser Cosmetic Insurance, with the average payout (if each and every one of them were paid) coming in at £2,481 for dermal filler claims, and £4,307 per claim for laser claims.
Practitioners often don’t realise that claimants’ costs are frequently higher than the claim itself, particularly if a lot of negotiation is involved. For example, Hamilton Fraser received a dermal filler claim which amounted to an eyewatering £191,000 – this was made up of £75,000 to the patient for damages, £11,000 for defence costs (our client’s solicitor costs) and £105,000 for the claimant’s costs. Although this was an extreme case, it shows that the more complex the claim is, the more likely it is that the bulk of the amount paid out will be for the patient’s solicitor’s costs, rather than the amount awarded to the patient.
Medical indemnity cover will protect you against potential costs and damages you may become legally liable to pay, arising out of any insured treatments you provide or advice you give to patients.
Different insurers will provide variable levels of cover so it’s very important that you check your policy cover is suitable for your business. The JCCP highlights evidence which confirms that, where medical malpractice does exist, the amount of indemnity cover may be inadequate to meet the actual costs associated with successful litigation claims. Hamilton Fraser’s standard policy offers up to £5m indemnity cover for any one claim or series of claims during the policy period. In the event where the treatment administration has gone wrong, the policy will pay for all costs defending the allegation, as well any sums and costs that are awarded to the claimant. As the policy is a “legal contract”, it will protect you regardless of whether you have been proven negligent or otherwise. Your policy schedule will detail the treatments or procedures that are covered by the insurance and these can be tailored to your needs. The list of treatments you can be insured for is continually being updated as they become available to the market – you can find our latest list here.
If you are a practitioner who performs treatments on a mobile basis – working in and out of various clinic locations or in patients’ homes – this cover is particularly useful and will protect you if your client or a member of the public trips, slips or falls within the area for which you are responsible. No matter how careful you are, accidents do happen and whether you work out of a cosmetic clinic, as a self-employed practitioner or run your own clinic, you need to make sure that you have adequate insurance in place and understand what you are covered for.
At Hamilton Fraser, we include work away public liability cover up to £2m as standard in our medical indemnity policy. Essentially, work away public liability is a free extension bolted onto the medical indemnity cover – it provides you with public liability cover in a property you do not own or rent on an ad hoc basis. If you own a premises, lease one, or have a rental agreement in place; you require separate public liability which is chargeable. This extension also covers third party property damage.
Products liability cover will protect you against any costs and expenses caused by the failure of the cosmetic product that you are using. Our medical malpractice insurance includes cover of up to £2m for product liability. But remember, this cover will only extend to licensed and registered branded products so it’s really important that practitioners don’t accidentally invalidate their cover or worse, put a patent at risk, by using incorrect products such as grey market products. It is incredibly important to ensure that quality and standards are maintained at all times through not only using reputable manufacturers but also making sure that you are purchasing them from an authorised distributor.
A significant proportion of products liability insurance claims involve distributors, who often assume that they are not responsible for any issues when shipping and handling someone else’s products. However, a manufacturer or retailer may say that when the product left them it was in perfect working order, so it must have been damaged and become dangerous during the distribution process. This means that they may push any lawsuits on to you, so you need to make sure your distribution business has comprehensive product liability insurance.
An important element of cover worth mentioning is that a policy needs to be active both at the time when the treatment was performed, and at the time when it was reported back. The pandemic highlighted a lack of understanding in this area, as a number of practitioners let their policies lapse during the lockdowns, many to return to the NHS. It’s important to understand that, once a policy has not been renewed, it cannot respond to any subsequent claims that might arise. For example, if you let your policy lapse and a customer complains three months after the treatment was performed and you no longer have insurance, you wouldn’t be able to claim to cover the costs of medical malpractice. However, at Hamilton Fraser Cosmetic Insurance, we are unique in offering run off policies with a five year extended reporting period built into them. So, should you retire, cease trading either permanently or perhaps temporarily, to go on maternity leave for example, you will be eligible for protection from past treatments you’ve carried out for up to five years if you purchase this additional protection.
As your business grows, there are other key covers which are available to you – like salon and surgery, where we can insure your premises, products and equipment. Whether you have one cosmetic surgery or a chain of cosmetic clinics, it’s important to make sure you are protecting your business with the correct insurance. We have tailored our salon and surgery insurance specifically to protect cosmetic clinics, drugs and equipment against loss or damage caused by insured events such as storm, flood, escape of water and theft, as well as accidental damage. In the past five years, five per cent of Hamilton Fraser Cosmetic Insurance’s claims have been for accidental damage with an average of £6,586 per claim and three per cent of claims have been for equipment, with an average of £4,447 per claim, so it pays to be covered.
As well as providing protection to practitioners, having the correct cover in place also signals to clients that you meet high professional standards, offering them peace of mind. In fact, the JCCP is proposing that, in order to gain insurance, there should be a requirement for all practitioners to demonstrate relevant knowledge and competence in the provision of cosmetic treatments. There is no current requirement for this, with some insurers providing cover to practitioners after the completion of a short one to two day course and no checks being made with regard to competence. At Hamilton Fraser we believe in quality training for our practitioners and have established a Recognised Training Course Scheme. If you haven’t completed the relevant training, we would not be able to offer cover – for example, we require you to have completed both theoretical and practical training for the treatments we are insuring you to administer, and to be registered with your relevant governing body. We don’t insure beauty therapists or dental nurses for injectable treatments. We always encourage our clients to keep us updated as they widen the treatments they are offering or grow their business, so that we can review and make any adjustments required to your policy.
Insurance is unique in that it is a product you buy which you never actually want to have to use. However, in the event of a claim you should expect full representation and support from your broker. Complaint handling can appear to be daunting, overwhelming and in some instances disheartening – especially where you have administered the treatment correctly and may have followed the right procedures.
However, if you are covered by Hamilton Fraser, our in-house claims team will work with you to resolve complaints of dissatisfaction and prevent them from escalating into a formal claim. In the event of you receiving a complaint or claim we advise you not to act without speaking with us or your insurers as it could jeopardise your reputation/business. The claims team can provide you with in-house templates to assist when corresponding with your patient.
A good understanding of what you are covered for should enable you to carry out your treatments with confidence. Although insurance can be a complex product, it is all about providing peace of mind, both to you and your patients. Ultimately, medical indemnity/malpractice insurance is a contract between you, the practitioner, and (we hope!), us. The contract is in place so you have the necessary guidance and knowledge to support you in the event of something going wrong whilst administering a treatment – and that can happen to even the most experienced of practitioners.
But having the correct insurance in place also makes business sense as it gives protection and peace of mind to your clients, who need to feel that they are in a safe environment and that they are protected.
Hamilton Fraser was the first insurance provider to offer medical indemnity insurance during the infancy stage of medical aesthetics. Since we sold our first policy over 25 years ago, the industry has grown beyond recognition – you can read more about our journey and the history of the industry here.
In today’s world of increasing litigation, use of social media and more demanding clientele, insurance remains as important as it did all those years ago when the aesthetic industry took its first steps towards the mainstream.
Hamilton Fraser’s medical indemnity policy now offers its best cover ever. For more information, including the details of no-cost extensions that we have incorporated into our latest version, visit our medical indemnity pages here.