The Hotel Spa: Evolving Risks and Coverage Needs

By Fran Sarmiento Executive Vice President, Venture Insurance Programs | January 13, 2013

Hotel spas are a luxurious feature that enhances the quality of a stay, brings guests back time and time again, and adds a terrific source of revenue to your hotel. These spas have grown from the "nail salons" of the eighties to the "Medi-Spa" of today, offering everything from specialized cosmetic services to invasive medical procedures once done only in hospitals or doctors' offices.

With this growth and change have come new risks and exposures. Today's hotel must not only have adequate insurance for their spa, but also a risk management program to reduce or eliminate potential risks-from the smallest slip and fall to a catastrophic medical malpractice claim.

From an insurance perspective, you can break spa services into two separate categories: those that provide cosmetic services only and those that also provide medical services. Cosmetic services range from facials and manicures to hair and makeup. Medical services, on the other hand, involve more invasive procedures such as Botox injections, laser hair removal, filler injections, laser skin rejuvenation and acupuncture to name a few.

Let's first examine the professional liability needs of these medical services and then look at the property and liability concerns of general spa operations, including issues to consider when subcontracting your spa operations.

Medical Services Risks

Understanding whether services are considered "medical" or not can greatly assist you in protecting your spa. Talk to your insurance partners to define your services. If a spa provides medical services, you must have professional liability insurance coverage to protect your hotel from medical malpractice claims. Specifically, be aware of whether you employ "incidental professionals" or "health care or medical professionals." Most technicians in a spa are considered "incidental," which means that they provide noninvasive, cosmetic services. But once you hire those who provide "invasive techniques or injections," you start to cross the line for your insurance coverage needs.

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