Are you keeping your client records for as long as you should be?

Kira O'Sullivan
SEO & Content Manager
12 April 2021
3 minute read

“You’ve done my lips wrong!” A beautician’s worst nightmare: your work making a client unhappy - or worse, causing injury. You go into the beauty industry because you want to help people feel good about themselves and nothing beats the feeling of seeing a satisfied client. But sometimes, things don’t go to plan - and it’s not always clear who’s to blame (or even whether anyone is to blame). It can end in tears on both sides and ultimately, even if you’re 100% not at fault, it could seriously harm your reputation and financial wellbeing if you don’t have the right insurance in place.

What should I do to make sure I can claim?

Regardless of what happened; whether the client didn’t tell you that they had a reaction to that patch test you administered, or they didn’t take heed of your follow-up care instructions, a treatment gone wrong will likely end up back with you in some shape or form. If you’re lucky, it’ll be rectifiable - you’ll be able to fix it without getting an insurer involved. But if it’s something more serious - whether it’s unfixable or the situation has simply turned sour - you may need to turn to your public liability insurance provider to make a claim.

Public liability insurance protects your business against legal and compensation costs arising from a client or former client making a claim against you in relation to accidental injury or property damage. Find out more about it in our guide to public liability insurance.

In this event, you may be required to submit the relevant records in order to make a successful professional indemnity claim.

What records should I be keeping?

It’s really important to make a distinction between records you need to be keeping and those that you don’t actually need. For example, Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and Personal Health Information (PHI) should not be stored if unrequired. It’s really important to keep client consent forms. It may seem tedious, but you’ll be glad you did if you’re ever faced with an issue. These are the details that are worth collecting from your client before each treatment:

  • What treatment was performed
  • What aftercare was advised
  • When and where the treatment took place
  • Signed consent from your client

If you’re unsure of what you should be including on your client consent forms, there are plenty of templates available online which you can use for reference.

There’s no legal requirement for this, it’s for your own protection. However, it’s worth checking with your business insurance provider to find out which treatments would require proof of consent in the event of a claim. Higher risk treatments, such as hair colouring, for example, tend to require consent.

How long do I need to keep client records?

This is a question which often causes confusion - particularly with the introduction of the GDPR, which may make you think twice about the customer information you keep around. Guidance around storing data suggests that records should be kept no longer than necessary, which is rather vague advice. In the case of client records, given that a person can make a claim for bodily injury up to around two years following a treatment, it may make sense to keep relevant records for at least two years.

How should I be storing my customer records?

It is good practice to keep the original paper records, but if you can’t do this - or feel it would be safer for you to keep digital records, you can. However, with digital records come other risks (e.g. data breaches), which is where cyber insurance can come in useful. Particularly if you do need to be storing PII or PHI.

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