Massage therapists work to help improve the lives of their clients, to help them heal from illness, injury and trauma. But what if a client is injured, has an accident or unreal expectations, or claims they were injured by your advice or treatments?
Massage insurance can help to mitigate the risks specific to the profession, from injury to illness to damage claims from your clients, employees or other third parties. Here's what you need to know about massage insurance to protect you and your business, whether you are self employed or you run a larger business.
- What kind of insurance does a massage therapist need?
- Does a massage therapist need insurance?
- How much is massage insurance?
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Types of Massage Insurance
While insurance needs can vary from business to business, there are a few types of insurance that a massage business might need. Below we explain what they are and how they work, along with some simple examples to help show how they can protect your business.
Public Liability Insurance
Public Liability insurance protects against a client or other member of the public becoming injured or their property being damaged due to your work—however, the types of injuries covered are accidental such as slips and falls, not injuries directly attributable to your bodywork or advice (for that you'd need professional liability/malpractice as discussed below).
Public liability insurance covers legal costs and compensation claims if you're sued, and you'll typically find limits of £1 million, £2 million, £5 million or £10 million in the UK marketplace.
- Bodily Injury Example: A client trips on a towel you left on the floor, falling and seriously injuring their back. They are unable to work for months and sue you for lost wages.
- Property Damage Example: When carrying your heavy massage table into a client's home, you accidentally damage their front door. They sue you for the costs to repair the door.
Treatment Insurance (similar in concept to Professional Indemnity insurance, but a form of modified medical malpractice) can protect you from a compensation claim from a client who is dissatisfied with the professional advice or service you gave. This type of insurance can cover legal defence costs and compensation settlements if you're sued.
- Professional Liability Example: You suggest a client carry out stretches following your treatment, and provide them with an exercise regime. Several weeks later you receive a claim from your client that the exercises you have recommended have resulted in permanent injury, followed by an insurance claim for their inability to work as a result.
Employers' Liability Insurance
Employers' Liability insurance is a legal requirement if you expand your business and hire anyone, such as an office worker to manage your appointments and billing or if you grow by hiring therapists to work for you. This type of insurance covers legal costs and compensation claims if an employee becomes ill or is injured due to their work for you and sues you as a result.
- Employers' Liability Example: An employee is injured by a table that collapses while they're adjusting it, causing a serious break in their foot. They blame you for the faulty table and sue.
Tools/Equipment Cover is useful for many people with a massage business to protect their expensive massage tables and other equipment in the event of damage or theft. You can also get cover for taking your equipment with you away from home or your place of business, for instance if you have a mobile massage business. Proper equipment is critical and you can't work without it.
- Tools/Equipment Cover Example: When you are loading your car with your massage table and other equipment, they are stolen from your locked car. Tool/equipment cover that includes in transit/away from home protection can reimburse you for these stolen items.
Contents and Stock insurance
Stock Cover is useful for alternative therapy practitioners who also sell items such as candles, oils, incense, etc. which aren’t covered under tools/equipment cover if it is intended to be sold. Massage therapists transporting valuable goods in their vehicle may also want goods in transit insurance. Other business items can also be covered under general contents insurance (e.g. to cover furniture and furnishings) and business equipment cover (e.g. to cover computers, phones, etc.).
- Contents/Stock in Transit Cover Example: When you are stopped to get a coffee on the drive to a client, products you carry for sale are stolen from your locked car. Stock in Transit cover can reimburse you for these stolen items.
Personal Accident Insurance
Personal Accident insurance can provide a financial benefit to you (or an employee) if you're injured and unable to work. This cover can help you cover your personal bills while you're off work due to your injury. This type of cover is a "benefit" (so it's not tax deductible) and would be paid either as a weekly payout in case of a temporary injury (e.g., broken hand) or a lump sum payout for a permanent disability (e.g., loss of a limb).
- Personal Accident Example: You trip and fall at work, causing a serious injury to your hand that prevents you from working. You claim for the weekly benefit to replace your income while your hand heals.
Commercial building insurance may be required if you practice from an owned building, even if it’s an office in your back garden, for example, as some home insurance won’t cover additional outbuildings especially if being used for business purposes. If you are mobile or work in premises owned by someone else, you won't need building insurance.
- Building insurance Example: A fire tears through the garden room you had specially built to house your massage business. You claim on building insurance which pays for the severely-damaged structure to be demolished and rebuilt.
If you use your private car to travel between multiple work locations including clients' homes, you'll need to declare "business use" to your car insurer. However if you simply commute back and forth to one place of business then you'll just need to declare commuting on your personal insurance. Anyone wanting coverage for goods in transit or their equipment whilst in their vehicle (e.g., a portable massage table) would likely need to step up to commercial vehicle insurance but this could cost a bit more.
If you only drive between different massage studios and aren't covering any equipment, tools or stock in your car then you might just need to declare "business use" on your regular car insurance, as opposed to needing a "commercial vehicle" policy. Those wanting goods in transit cover may need to upgrade to a commercial vehicle policy. Check with your insurer to see what they'll cover and if you need to change the type of use on your policy.
Legal Costs insurance, also called legal expenses insurance, can provide access to experts and pay for legal costs for a variety of situations such as employment disputes, HMRC tax enquiries and disputes, health & safety inspections, contract disputes, debt recovery, property protection, identity theft protection, and other situations depending on the terms of the policy. Legal expenses policies cover a different set of situations than are covered by other types of business insurance, such as employers' liability or public liability.
- Legal Costs Example: You hire someone to work for your massage business. You think they count as a self employed, but they claim that they are a "worker" and that you owe them paid annual leave.
Cyber Insurance can offer expert advice and cover costs if you are the victim of a cyber crime or data breach. A massage business that stores sensitive customer information can be vulnerable, for instance.
- Cyber Insurance Example: You run a robust massage business, where you store customer data in a database system that is hacked. Hackers gain access to the data and steal private medical, identification and financial information. Your cyber insurance pays to investigate the hack, helps you notify customers, provides credit score monitoring for affected customers and any settlements in the case.
In addition, a massage business might need other types of cover. Talk to a specialist insurer or broker if you are unsure of the coverage you need.
Do Massage Therapists Need Insurance?
Yes, most massage businesses need insurance. While needs might change whether you are self employed, you run a mobile massage business or you own a bricks-and-mortar massage business, you may need public liability insurance, professional indemnity/professional liability, equipment cover, commercial vehicle or business use for your vehicle and employer's liability to protect any employees at the very least. But anyone becoming a massage therapist should fully understand the risks they face.
Public liability insurance is critical for any business that deals in person with members of the public (e.g., clients), so most massage businesses need this. Treatment liability insurance can also be important to protect a therapist from customers who are unhappy with your work, for example if they claim your service or advice caused them injury.
Since massage equipment is expensive, equipment/tools cover is also important for many massage businesses. Business equipment/tool cover can protect these items against accidental damage or theft.
Employers' liability insurance is required by law as soon as you hire someone to work for you, even a part-time therapist or an office assistant. Whether or not you need other types of business insurance as the owner of a massage business will depend on the specific risks you face. Other coverages you might want include personal accident, commercial property, business interruption insurance, etc.
Here are some of the different types of massage therapy for which you can get coverage:
- Aromatherapy massage
- Ayurvedic massage
- Baby Massage
- Balinese Massage
- Deep tissue massage
- Holistic Massage
- Hot Stone Massage/Therapy
- Indian Face Massage
- Indian Head Massage
- Kalari Foot Massage
- Ku Nye (Tibetan) Head Massage
- Lomilomi Massage
- Mobile massage
- Pregnancy massage
- Shiatsu massage
- Sports massage
- Swedish massage
- Thai massage
How Much is Public Liability Insurance for a Massage Business?
The average cost of public liability insurance for a massage business starts from around £45 a year. But a massage business's total insurance costs can quickly rise to multiples of that amount depending on the additional coverages you need. Treatment liability also starts from around £45 a year.
If you go for a higher coverage limit on your public liability insurance your premium will go up, but each additional £1 million of cover usually costs less than the first £1 million. Adding professional indemnity to public liability can roughly triple the cost of your business insurance, but again your premiums will depend on the details of your application and your business. But all in all, the cost of massage therapist insurance is definitely worth it when you take into account how much you can earn.
What affects the cost of my massage insurance?
Massage business insurance depends on a number of factors, such as the type of cover you need, the amount of cover you need, your turnover, the types of therapies you carry out, your previous claims history, the number of employees you have and even where you live.
For example, if you need to buy employers' liability insurance to cover your employees, you can pay roughly £200 for the cost of employers' liability to cover one massage therapist (with additional employees usually costing less on a per-person basis), however cover for an office assistant could cost in the region of just £60.
Ultimately your massage insurance premiums will vary significantly depending on your situation and the details of your application. If an insurer views your risks as being higher then they will charge a higher insurance rate.
How can I save money on massage insurance?
You may be able to save money on business if you belong to a professional organisation, such as the Federation of Holistic Therapists or The Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council. Of course, not all insurers will provide a discount for belonging to a professional organisation.
Also, if you buy all of your business insurance from one source as a package you may save money as opposed to buying each type of coverage separately. Another way to save on massage insurance is by paying upfront, since paying monthly typically results in interest charges.
Additionally, keep in mind that you may be required by your insurance to hold a UK qualification for the types of treatments you carry out. Click here for government guidance on what you need to do to become qualified as a massage therapist.
Finally, it may be possible to obtain very reasonably priced insurance through your professional organisation, as these often have arranged ‘schemes’ with insurers who discount the premiums for the group in exchange for insuring a large number of its members.
Yes, masseuses need insurance to protect them against situations such as accidental injury to clients or other third parties or damage to their property (public liability insurance) or injury to a client as a result of advice or a treatment (treatment liability insurance/professional liability). There are also a number of other types of insurance that a massage business might need.
The cost of massage liability insurance starts from as little as £45 a year or so (around £4 a month), but costs depend on the work you do, the coverage you need and other factors.
Yes, the right insurance is crucial to protect a massage therapist's business, whether you run a larger business or you are self employed. Even as a self-employed sole trader you may face risks such as injury to the public, property damage, dissatisfied clients, equipment theft, etc. Without insurance, you could be liable for defence costs and settlements due to client injury, or paying to replace stolen equipment yourself, for example.
Massage Therapist Employment and Earnings Statistics
According to the latest Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE), most therapy professionals earn in the region of £29,947 a year in the UK, but annual salaries depend on your experience level, the type of work you do, how much you work and where you live. Here are some statistics on how much therapy professionals such as massage therapists earn a year.
|Therapy Professional Employment Statistics UK|
|Number of Jobs||16,000|
|UK Average pay (full time)||£32,838|
|UK Average pay (part time)||£21,530|
|UK Average pay||£29,947|
|South West average pay||£28,871|
|Scotland average pay||£20,200|
|North East average pay||£27,661|
|North West average pay||£29,614|
|Yorkshire and the Humber average pay||£31,310|
|West Midlands average pay||£35,377|
|East average pay||£28,152|
|London average pay||£33,555|
|South East average pay||£27,704|