What Insurance Does a Tattoo Artist Need?

When you’re thinking of starting a new profession as a tattoo artist or becoming the business owner of a tattoo shop, it is important to do some research to make sure you’re covering all of your bases, such as making sure you’re licensed and have all the paperwork you need to get started. One major consideration that is easy to overlook, is insurance.

Have you ever considered needing insurance? If you haven’t before, you’re in the right place. Let’s walk through the reasons why you need insurance as a tattoo artist, how to get it, and what’s available so you can keep doing what you are passionate about, worry free.

Why do I need insurance as a tattoo artist?

As a tattoo artist, you are performing a service that is permanent, and that can come with a lot of things going wrong or unexpected problems may arise.

As you can imagine, there are the typical issues of clients not being happy with how the tattoo comes out, but there are also instances of infections and other medical issues that can cause serious or permanent discomfort and injury after a tattoo service.

With more and more people getting tattoos, that increases the likelihood that you’ll run into an issue as an artist at some point, and you’ll feel better knowing you’re covered by insurance. Your wallet will thank you too!

Am I required to have insurance?

Most states don’t require individual artists or tattoo shops to have insurance, but most professional shops are insured anyway. If you don’t have insurance, you could find yourself in a lawsuit (which costs money too) or having to pay costs out of pocket for mistakes and infections.

Some people worry that insurance is going to be too costly per month, and it’s not worth the investment. The small cost you’ll pay per month will be well worth it though when you run into expensive legal fees and settlements. It’s best to play is safe and make sure you have insurance.

Insurance Types

There are three main types of insurance that you can get as a tattoo artist, and what you need depends on what kind of coverage you’re looking for. You may need different insurance coverage if you are an independent contractor that travels from state to state or around the area, or if you are the owner of a large, busy tattoo shop in a very populated city. There are different risks for each situation, and thus there are different coverage options to meet the individuals needs of the artist and tattoo shop owner.

Professional Liability Insurance

Professional liability insurance is what protects an individual tattoo artist in the event that they are sued by a client who they tattooed. You can think of this like malpractice insurance for doctors. This covers you in case you make a mistake while providing a tattoo service.

If you injure or cause a customer to get an infection due to negligence or by not providing aftercare instructions, or if you make a mistake that results in a tattoo that was incorrectly done, this type of insurance can help cover some of those costs.

When you get professional liability insurance you want to make sure it offers protections for special circumstances such as a guest artist tattooing in your shop (or someone you may be mentoring and responsible for), or any off-site work you are doing. You might find yourself tattooing remotely or for special events, and you want to make sure your insurance plan covers you for that. If you have an apprentice, it is wise to have them get their own liability insurance, but it helps if your policy covers them as well, just in case.

Individual General Liability Insurance

Individual general liability coverage is a policy that will cover your tattoo tools and machinery. This is incredibly important, but something that some people don’t think about in terms of needing insurance coverage. You have a lot of money in your equipment, and anything can happen to it. From theft to accidents and damage, you want to make sure you have everything covered by general liability insurance. You can cover almost anything that aids in the delivery of your services, so be sure to take a careful inventory of your equipment so you have adequate coverage.

Business Liability Insurance

Business liability insurance is a larger policy that is broader and protects the assets of a tattoo shop in the event that a client wants to try to sue the entire tattoo shop rather than an individual tattoo artist. Without insurance, the business itself is left vulnerable. Even if you have contractors that are all insured individually, it is still a good idea to have business liability insurance. In some cases, instead of an individual being sued, a client will come after the shop or the shop owner, despite the mistake being made another artist.

How much does insurance cost for tattoo artists?

The cost of insurance can vary greatly depending on the plan and type of coverage you are looking for. For a one million or two million dollar insurance policy you are looking at paying anywhere in between $60-$80 per month for general liability insurance. Your insurance rate is going to depend on a few factors including your location, how much experience your artists have, the artists salaries and the size of your shop.

Many insurance companies will provide you with a free quote for the different types of insurance coverages. It is worth spending some time to shop around and find yourself the best rate and coverage that works for your situation.

The best way to find the most affordable policy that will meet your needs is to find an insurance agent or broker. An insurance agent works for a single company, while a broker is independent and will look at multiple insurance policies to find the one that best fits your needs.

Can Artists Insure Their Hands?

Tattoo artists can now get disability insurance, which until recently was not a possibility. Your profession and livelihood depend on you being healthy and uninjured, but what happens if you do fall ill, or you have some sort of accident that results in damage or injury to your hand? Your hand is a tool you need to complete your job, and that is now recognized.

Do You Need Different Insurance to do Piercings?

There is specific insurance for piercing artists but to basically covers the same types of issues that an artist may run into. If an artist makes a mistake while piercing a client, liability insurance will cover mistakes that cause injury to the client. This includes coverage for legal costs and any necessary settlements.

Within your insurance policy, it’s important to make sure that all types of piercings are covered. For example, some insurance companies may not provide coverage for genital piercings, and without coverage for those types of piercings, you or your shop could find yourselves vulnerable to lawsuits for mistakes for that specific type of piercing. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you cannot still do those types of piercing services, but it does mean that those types of piercings will not be covered by your insurance policy.

The Importance of Multiple Types of Insurance

So while you’re looking into general liability insurance and business liability insurance, be sure to look into disability insurance as well. You want to make sure you cover all your bases. You need to have insurance for yourself in terms of your practice, insurance to cover your tattoo shop business, general insurance to cover your equipment, and disability insurance to cover your talent.

It may seem like overkill to have all of these types of insurance as options, but when you run into a financial situation at some point in your career as an artist, you’ll be thankful that you have these policies so you’re not paying everything out of pocket.