Monthly Archives: February 2010

The ugly side of beauty—protecting your salon from its own liabilities

Salons, for many women, are a safe haven, a place to relax with girlfriends and escape life’s many stresses. When getting their hair or nails done, they aren’t thinking about the salon’s potential liabilities. You wouldn’t necessarily think beauty salons would have many, but when you think about it, a lot could go wrong.

Luckily, there are many precautions a smart salon owner can take to reduce their business’s liability. These preventative measures reduce the risk of lawsuits and, should lawyers get involved, verdicts usually favor those who take pro-active action. Realizing and minimizing risks—imagining plausible problems and working to remedy them—takes time, but it’s better than the alternative. Here are some simple steps to help reduce your salon’s liability:

  • Make your salon a safe and pleasant place. A professional appearance and atmosphere enhances your salon’s image.  It’s just good business sense.
  • Have employees trained in both accident response and prevention. Check all salon equipment regularly to ensure they’re properly functioning. Equipment can malfunction (for nothing technological is assured) and a client could get burned. Literally. Also, keeping records of any preventive maintenance can help should such a situation arise.
  • Lots of harsh and potentially dangerous chemicals are used in salons daily, so protect both your staff and clients. Manicure and pedicure tools, especially, pose a risk of infection if not correctly sterilized. Adequate ventilation and proper sanitation can almost eliminate this risk.
  • Hire reliable, competent employees. This may seem a no-brainer, but if you’ve ever watched Bravo’s Tabatha’s Salon Takeover, the help can be a major problem. Employing stylists, manicurists, managers, etc. who adhere to the salon’s policies and procedures (instead of their own whims and habits) makes your business far less likely to encounter problems.
  • Continually assess the salon for any liabilities—floor to ceiling. Any old, curling carpet could cause a fall. The freshly mopped floor, without any signage, is also a hazard. These examples may seem simplistic, but it’s often the smallest liability that can cost your business the most. And because they’re minor, they don’t require much time or expense.

These tips can go a long way in safeguarding your client’s monthly manicure or trim. Of course, should anything go awry, you want to make sure your salon has the right insurance coverage. To receive a free quote for your salon, email or call Homer Smith Insurance directly at 888-433-0031. We are dedicated to ensuring your salon has the coverage it needs. An independent insurance agency, we are licensed in, and serve, Washington and Oregon.

Erin Stork, Homer Smith Insurance

Protecting your business from human error

Between friends, advice is given with the best possible intent and is usually supported by well-informed opinion. At least with the friends you would seek advice from.


With professional services, however, advice can become a business transaction. Dozens of professional services offer their customers advice that ranges from shrubbery arrangements to open heart surgery. Landscapers and surgeons alike provide clients and patients with professional advice that, while most often proves reliable, can sometimes have damaging—even devastating—effects, well-intentioned the advice may be:


–If a landscaper mistakenly plants shade-loving roses in a garden that spends the better part of the day in sunlight, the roses will probably die. When the client realizes the wrong roses were planted, they could potentially sue the landscaper for his error.


–If an unforeseen complication arises during surgery that stems from the surgeon or doctor’s medical advice and the patient dies, the surgeon or doctor could be held liable and sued by the patient’s family.


Though these examples obviously differ in the extent of their consequences, incidents of this nature do occur, and business owners and/or professionals should be prepared for them. Lawsuits and taking legal action are ever-growing trends, and one way for professionals to protect themselves is having Errors and Omissions Insurance. An E&O policy provides coverage if you or your business is sued for damages or monetary compensation, whether from faulty advice, mistakes, or accidental mishaps. It provides peace of mind by knowing that your business won’t go under because of one innocent error or mistake.


Any business or professional that provides advice or consultation services to customers should consider Errors and Omissions Insurance. Hopefully, you won’t ever have to use it. But we’re only human. If the worst should happen, you want to be covered.


To receive a free quote, send us an email or call Homer Smith Insurance directly at 888-433-0031. We are an independent insurance agency serving Washington, but we are also licensed for Oregon, California, Nevada and Arizona.


Erin Stork, Homer Smith Insurance

Umbrella insurance on the Olympic Peninsula

An umbrella is used as a shield against the elements, protection from rain and wind when the weather turns sour. In the world of finance, through insurance, umbrellas perform the same helpful function. Umbrella insurance is a form of liability insurance that protects the policy holder from accidents and lawsuits that could generate liability costs beyond what their regular policies cover.


Liability, one’s legal responsibility to pay for damages due to an accident or loss, is part of most insurance policies. When the liability limits of policies prove not to be enough, however, — in case of an accident or lawsuit—umbrella insurance steps in. It provides excess liability coverage above and beyond what regular policies afford.


This kind of liability insurance is important to consider for many reasons. If a driver causes an accident resulting in injuries, their liability pays for any medical expenses, rehabilitative therapy, or lost wages due to the injured party. Any legal fees from lawsuits requiring legal representation are also covered by liability. Medical costs and legal fees, probably the two most expensive services in the country, escalate quickly. When the sum total is calculated, the standard liability in a homeowners or auto policy may not be enough. The liability included in this insurance may suffice if one person is injured, but if multiple injuries are sustained—say in an accident involving a school bus or a highway multi-car collision—more than the standard liability will probably be needed.


With an umbrella policy, the problem of liability is easily solved. For example, if an auto policy has a liability limit of $300,000, and the insured has a million dollar umbrella policy, the limit is actually $1,300,000. An accident, lawsuit, or liability claim will not become an out of pocket expense—the insured will be covered. They could be all right if only one person is injured, but if multiple people sustain injuries, the bills can reach auto policy limits in no time.


Having umbrella insurance could potentially save thousands, and with premiums generally being about $200 a year in Washington, it’s affordable protection. If you would like to learn more about this policy, Homer Smith Insurance can help you assess your needs and determine how much coverage is right for you. Call us at 888-433-0031, e-mail, or visit our website to receive a free quote. We are an independent insurance agency licensed in Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, and Arizona.


Erin Stork, Homer Smith Insurance

The ins and outs of condo policies and coverage

For someone visiting Sequim, WA for the first time in ten years, the change in the small coastal town would be dramatic. Sequim, though not quite yet a bustling metropolis, has experienced a boom in building and a surge in shopping. New developments have sprung up on both sides of the highway (that also until recently wasn’t there), including additions to real estate. With the rising popularity of condos, and the influx of retirees to the Sequim area, it’s not surprising that part of the new construction has been devoted to condominiums.

Condominiums can be the perfect choice in many stages of life, whether you’re newlyweds or about to celebrate your golden anniversary. Shopping for the perfect condo can be tricky, and many may not think about insurance in the process. But once you’ve found your condo, insurance should be at the top of your priority list.

Coverage is indeed afforded by condo associations, but it’s limited at best. There are tricky grey areas in their insurance plans that don’t provide the coverage you might think. The exterior of the condo buildings and all common areas—any pools, club houses, tennis courts, etc.—are included in their insurance. The actual condo units themselves, however, are not. With the condo association’s plan, coverage stops, quite literally, at your front door.

Condo associations are not required to insure their residents. All personal property and possessions of condo owners are consequently without coverage, and often any damage to floors, walls, furniture, or appliances is your responsibility, regardless of whether the damage is due to Mother Nature or a rowdy neighbor. And if someone has an injury in your unit, that’s your problem as well, for the condo association’s liability also does not extend to its tenants.

This precise predicament is what a personal condo policy is tailored for. It anticipates the problems with condo coverage, insuring everything within the exterior walls of your condo not included in the condo association’s policy. Determining how much insurance you need is simple. A document called the Condominium Associations Declaration specifies what the condo association’s insurance covers and, more importantly, what it does not. It gives the condo owner an idea of how much insurance they need. In addition to reviewing the declaration, assess the costs of repairing or replacing your personal property in the condo, including how much liability you may need if an accident or damages should occur to your unit.

To make sure you have the right amount of coverage for your condo, contact Homer Smith Insurance. Send us an e-mail, or call us directly at 888-433-0031. Condo insurance is inexpensive and protects what is most important to you and your home. Help us help you make sure you have what you need.

Erin Stork, Homer Smith Insurance

Insurance and marriage, where is the connection?

Most probably both of you had an auto policy before. Once you combine those two, you should be able to get a multi-car discount, and because married people are known to have fewer accidents, your combined premium might be quite more attractive than what you paid individually before. It is also important to review your coverage and make sure you are both protected equally.


Another thing to look into is getting or reviewing your homeowner’s or renter’s policy to make sure your combined possessions are covered.


And have you considered getting life insurance? If you already have a policy, be sure to get it updated to include your spouse. If you didn’t purchase one yet, it might be the moment to do so now. Call us at Homer Smith Insurance at 888-433-0031 to talk about it. We can help you re-evaluating your existing policies or provide you with quotes, meeting your needs and budget. Call us or send an email. You are also welcome to stop by at one of our offices in Port Townsend or Sequim.


Your Homer Smith Insurance Team