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Written by: Marisa Kakoulas
Needles and Sins Blog features PPIB Tattoo Program
I've been asked, a number of times, by tattooers what the best defense is to those frivolous law suits against tattoo studios, which are exponentially being filed, especially now that people think that tattoo artists have deep pockets. I have a pretty simple answer: insurance. Just like policies for your health, home, and car, protection is available for tattoo and piercing businesses. One company that has been protecting our industry the longest is Professional Program Insurance Brokerage ("PPIB"), and we are proud to have them as a sponsor of our site.
To offer y'all a glimpse into tattoo and piercing studio insurance, I sent some questions to Susan Preston, who founded PPIB 22 years ago, at a time when there was a pure lack of or a market for this type of coverage. Here's a bit from our Q&A:
Over twenty years ago, at the inception of PPIB, what were the main concerns of artists and studios in terms of insurance coverage to protect their businesses and are they still the same today?
Twenty years ago, the biggest concern to artists and studios was that a market did not exist for insurance coverage for their business. Most studios felt as though their customers, mostly bikers or college students at that time, were less likely to resolve their issues in the legal system; therefore, shops were not keen on carrying insurance coverage. PPIB realized that, with a changing world and economy, more people would become sue-happy and change the environment that the studios operated in. Over time, shops and artists have come to realize that insurance is needed in order to protect their livelihoods, and PPIB has been able to provide this at an affordable cost.
What are the newer legal issues in the tattoo industry that artists and studios need to be aware of and protect against? The biggest issue facing the tattoo industry today would be the transfer of communicable diseases, including infections such as MRSA, to their customers. The stigma of tattoo shops being unsanitary is far from the truth, but to a customer who has had their skin opened by a tattoo artist...the first person they blame is the shop. The infection could be caused by many factors, such as improper aftercare, but we help insure the tattoo industry against the risk of being sued for this issue.
With that being said, other issues that affect artists and studios can include sexual abuse charges (example: inappropriate touching during a service) and a growing contingent of consumers who you can't always judge and are unsure what their reaction would be to your work. There have been situations where a customer is happy with a tattoo, and weeks or even months later comes back and something has changed their mind about their artwork, and they become unhappy. These are situations which we try to help protect our clients against.
What have you seen as a big impact on the industry as a result of the popularity of tattooing?
With the growing popularity of the tattoo industry, more people from across a wider spectrum are getting tattoos. This in turn increases the likelihood of lawsuits from customers of varying backgrounds. As time has progressed, this has made tattoo shops more aware of the need for insurance and the need to protect their assets. Being aware and educated on insuring one's business is the first line of defense in making sure any shop is successful.