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  • Writer's pictureKirby Clark, MMT

Preparing For The Unexpected

Updated: Dec 19, 2023

I need you to stop what you’re doing and ask yourself, “am I prepared… truly prepared for the unexpected in my massage practice?” The sad truth is that (from what I’ve experienced) you’re probably not!

We live in an age where people who receive services (like massage therapy) have become increasingly litigious. Therefore, there is a new standard of conduct for massage therapists- it’s an old rule of thumb for the rest of the world, but relatively newer for us, and it goes like this; CYOA or Cover Your Own Ass!

You never know what can happen during a massage (or worse!) after the session has ended that might cause a client to pursue legal action against you. To my horror, I’ve encountered too many therapists with the attitude of massage insurance being an unnecessary “waste” of expenses. I am here to tell you, that the true unnecessary waste is to practice without liability insurance.

I know you think nothing that bad could really happen to you or your client, but it absolutely COULD! Therapists need to start treating their license like a whole other person- or better yet their own child! If your massage license were your child, would you let it go without insurance? I really don’t think you would. Would you let your child engage in the riskier practices you do in massage? Let’s be real for a minute, I’ve come across therapists who don’t always do everything by the book… I don’t think you’d be as careless if you thought of your license as a precious child. It’s not always a neglect or malicious intent from the therapists that causes this either. Often times it’s poor education, the urgency to provide for clients (especially in smaller, rural regions with limited access to massage therapy), or just not being aware of the risks involved. When I train other therapists all across the state of Arkansas and they ask me about what shortcuts or what alternatives they can use or how closely to adhere to contraindications (first of all, I’m shocked and mortified) but ultimately, I tell them “that’s between you and your license, any deviation from the trainings I provide is a risk you’re going to have to feel comfortable making.” At the end of the day, it’s your license- I can’t tell you what to do with it or make you follow the rules perfectly, I can just give you advice on how I practice with as little risk against my license as possible.

Most therapists I know, massage is their only source of income. Take a moment and really consider; it the absolute worst were to happen to my practice; how would I fare financially? Without liability insurance, I’m afraid most therapists I know would be ruined! It would be my desire that every therapist practicing respected their clients, their license, and themselves enough to carry a liability policy. We live in a time as professionals where you simply cannot afford the luxury of believing that sort of thing will never happen to me or that liability insurance is some kind of waste. Anything could happen! And you cannot see the future any clearer than I can. Think of having massage insurance as investing in the known; you will have the peace of mind knowing that if something were to go wrong in your career, you’re covered. You’ve got to make investments in the known instead of the unknown. I know you probably don’t WANT to spend the extra deduction from your earnings, but the bottom line is you absolutely NEED liability coverage. And NEEDs beat out WANTs every single time!

So now that I’ve got you on board with NEEDING massage insurance, let’s talk about your different options.

The three major options in massage liability insurance are AMTA, ABMP, and Massage Magazine.

AMTA

I will start by saying I am biased toward AMTA, they are a great organization. AMTA stands for the American Massage Therapy Association and was founded in 1943- their national headquarters are in Illinois. AMTA is a non-profit that provides its members with $2 million in liability insurance, free online CEs, a quarterly magazine, free website, numerous exclusive discounts with massage product retailers (including 30% discount at Massage Warehouse), and local chapters of the association that can advocate on behalf of the profession. The fact that AMTA is an association with volunteer and elected positions and their long history made selecting them as my primary insurance was a no-brainer. AMTA insurance also offers optional insurance add-ons like disability, auto & home insurance, renter, and accidental death policies just to name a few. AMTA membership costs $235 annually.

ABMP

I will also say that I am a member of both AMTA and ABMP. ABMP stands for Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals, they were founded in 1987 and are based out of Colorado. ABMP is a for-profit organization. They also provide $2 million coverage with no shared master limit among their members. ABMP offers over 200 free CE which is a major selling point for those that favor them as their insurance provider. Their magazine is mailed out 6 times a year, they offer two phone apps, a free website, and discounts with many discounts with retailers. Joining ABMP is $199 a year.

Massage Magazine

Massage Magazine was founded in 1985 and after years of being strictly a publication, they began offering insurance. Is the first place I got massage insurance (as required by my employer at the time) and it is a great place to get insurance especially if you are a newly licensed therapist starting out and trying to build a clientele and pay off student loans or other debt. Massage Magazine offers some free online CEs, and of course their publication in addition to their liability coverage. Massage Magazine was a great place to keep my insurance for the first few years of my practice because they are the cheapest option on this list at only $169 annually.


These are the leading options for massage therapy liability insurance. I urge you, if you and your practice aren’t covered today, join any one of these fine organizations TODAY and protect you, your license, and your clients futures ASAP!


Peace and Healing,

Kirby Clark, MMT, BCTMB

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