Massage Liability Insurance

Massage Therapists will need professional massage liability insurance to cover themselves when they are giving massages.  There are many different options available and doing your research will help you find the policy that is best for you.  Some states also require massage therapists to have insurance.  (Alabama, Colorado, Indiana, Massachusetts, Missouri, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. )

You may be just starting out and thinking that the cheapest insurance is all that you can afford.  You have to really consider all the risks and see if it will really be the cheapest for you.  Cheap usually means less coverage.

Here are some things you will want to find out about the various policies:

  • Will they cover you no matter where you work – from your office, place of employment, from the client’s home, or from a business location or on location for chair massage or sports event?
  • Will it cover you if you are employed or are and Independent contractor and what if you switch status during the year?
  • Will they cover the type of massage you do?
  • Will they cover things like hot stone massage, any massage tools you use or any special gadgets you are planning on using during the massage?  (Cupping, T-bars, Tens, Electric Stim, Ultrasound – which some of these are also a scope of practice issue to.)
  • Will it cover breach of privacy issues like if your computer gets stolen with client info on it and you will have to pay for ID protection for all of your clients – will you be covered if someone sues you because their ID was stolen?
  • Will it cover legal defense if something happens?
  • Will it cover you for the oils and lotions you use or any aromatherapy products that may cause allergies or problems for clients?
  • Will it cover you if your table breaks with a client on it?
  • Will it cover you if someone falls off the table during a session or when they are getting up or down off of the table?
  • Will it cover you for sexual assault charges if a client comes after you – no matter if you are guilty or not?
  • What if a client puts their Iphone on the table and forgets it and you scoop it up unknowingly and put it in the washer – will you be covered?

What it all means – massage liability insurance for everyone.

Professional Liability is malpractice insurance.  This is what will cover you if a client decides to sue you for something related to the massage session.  The client could say that you hurt them more or that the hot rocks burned them…this is what will cover you.  This is also why it is so important to write chart notes for every session – so you can show what condition the client was when they arrived, what you actually did and how they felt leaving.  They could try to say that you hurt something when in fact they came in with having that pain or injury.

The professional liability insurance may also cover things like :

  • Products Liability – covers oils, lotions etc.
  • Personal Injury Liability –
  • Good Samaritan Liability
  • Malplacement Liability
  • Fire & Water Legal Liability

General Liability refers to slip and fall accidents that may occur in your office.

 Individual vs shared Aggregate is really the most important part you will need to understand.  Individual aggregate means you will be covered for that amount to that amount and treated separately as compared to a shared/group aggregate which means that you share that amount with everyone who is insured.  That means if five people get sued for something and the allowed amount is paid out reaching the aggregate limit, you are out of luck if you are not one of the five.

Occurrence vs Claims Made is also important.   Occurrence means you had coverage when the accident or the incident happened so if you cancel your insurance later and someone makes a claim against you after you canceled the policy, you are covered.

Compare Massage Liability Insurance

There are many charts already that compare the various insurances.  The thing you have to remember is that there are two main massage associations that offer insurance as a membership benefit.  You are getting much more than insurance so you can’t just compare them based on dollar amounts.

Comparison chart from

Comparison chart from


Massage Therapist Salaries – The Truth

Massage Therapists salaries are mostly really inaccurate.  We do not have any real concrete data on massage therapist salaries.  The many websites out there that give salary statistics don’t tell the whole story.

The real story is that entry level massage therapists start at $8-$15 an hour depending on where you live and what type of place you work.  Entry level jobs are usually at a massage franchise like Massage Envy or Elements.  You can make more if you find the right job or work your way up into a higher paying jobs.  High end spas, other massage therapists or medically oriented clinics will often pay more per hour.

Here is the key with any salary statistic in the massage profession:

  • Most massage jobs are 20-25 hours a week.  Salary statistics usually multiply the number of hours by a 40 hour work week.  Massage therapists are unable to work that number of hours due to the physical demands on your body, mind and emotions.
  • In most jobs in massage, you only get paid your massage therapist salary when you have a massage client.  If you don’t have a client, you may be cleaning the bathrooms and doing laundry for minimum wage or you don’t get paid at all.
  • Most massage therapists start their own business.  These statistics are not counted in job statistics.  Massage therapists are usually sole proprietors and do the massage themselves.  Some may hire other massage therapists to work for them as an independent contractor or employee.
  • Most massage therapists who do have jobs are hired as independent contractors.  That means that they are not paid directly as an employee but are considered to be self-employed.  These numbers are not reflected in any salary data

So how much does a massage therapist make?  You can make as much or as little as you want.  Most prefer part time and low wages and have spousal or family support.

This is from the Associated Bodywork and Massage Professional Metrics page:

What do massage therapists earn?

  • Independent practitioners (average): $25,365
  • Independent practitioners (median): $22,000
  • Employees (average): $19,605
  • Employees (median): $15,750
  • Average gross income during first year of practice: $8,864

This is from the American Massage Therapy Association:

In 2010, the average annual income for a massage therapist (including tips) who provides approximately 15 hours of massage per week was estimated to be $31,980, compared to $37,123 for 2009. The reduction in income reflects both a decrease in the number of average hours worked and lower numbers for consumer use of massage in 2010.

In 2014, the average annual income for a massage therapist (including tips) was estimated to be $22,165

So not sure why the big difference in massage therapist salary reports from the two major massage associations.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports:

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the median annual wage for massage therapists was $34,900 in 2010. The best-paid 10 percent in the profession made approximately $69,000, while the bottom 10 percent made approximately $17,970. The top-paying metropolitan areas for this occupation include Anchorage, Alaska, Tallahassee, Fla., and York-Hanover, Pa.

In 2012 they say the median annual wage was $35,970 per year.

So how much can you make? The question really should be – How much will YOU be able to make?

That depends really on your ability to negotiate job contracts and show employers how you will help their business grow.  It depends on your skills in the area of getting a job in general.   It depends on your commitment to be constantly improving your skills and knowledge.

The top massage therapists who work in clinics and spas should earn at least $25 an hour and most likely $35-50 an hour.  Getting that may take some time and energy in your job search and it may mean taking a lower paying job first to work your way into a higher paying job.

If you stay in a job, your earning potential is limited but you will often gain experience and knowledge about building a business making it a good experience and opportunity so that you can go on to start your own business.

Massage therapists who are in business for themselves can charge more per massage, hire other massage therapists to work for them or to rent rooms from you to reduce your overhead and expenses and make more per hour.  You will need to know how to create websites that will get you most of your clients and learn how to network to build a massage business.

If you are just thinking about becoming a massage therapist you can read more about massage therapist salaries in my Book – A Career in Massage – Is if for you?

Things they never tell you about being a massage therapist

Being a massage therapist is becoming a popular career choice for many.  People are drawn to the field for many reasons- wanting to help people is one of the main reasons and wanting to have a career where you can make a difference compared to having a corporate job where you often feel like a prisoner at your desk.

The massage school admissions people seem to forget the details though and most do not even know to ask about these kind of things and many of it won’t really matter to most – it is just part of ‘the job’.  People want to know if you can make a good living and things like that.  Just like any career, the answers depend really more on YOU and your abilities to put everything you learn in massage school together into something that creates a successful massage career.

So here goes:  things that they don’t tell you about when thinking about a career in massage

  1. You will be doing a lot of laundry.  Each client requires a fresh set of very clean and sanitized sheets, face covers, bolster covers, pillow cases/covers.  5 clients a day – 5 days a week.
  2. You will need to know how to fold a fitted sheet (if that is what you choose for your massage sheets- most do)
  3. There are some really hairy guys out there that will challenge your use of oil/lotion and application methods in order to give an effective massage.
  4. Yes, You will need to trim your nails really, really short or you will be scratching the client.  They will need to be filed smooth and kept that way.  Forget long nails, fake nails or fancy nail polish.
  5. Yes, the big E (erection) happens. Men do weird things – ejaculate on tables, into towels, ask for happy endings, mess up your sheets and will challenge your boundaries.
  6. You will get clients that have crushes on you, want to date you, want to give you expensive gifts. (Dating clients is illegal in many states and is against the code of ethics of most associations.)
  7. No you don’t have to take math, but you have to take basic college level anatomy and physiology – science! You need math to do your bookkeeping, taxes and such.
  8. Clients may come in sick, with runny noses, icky skin conditions, smelly feet, dirty hair and will come in right from the gym/workout sweaty from head to toe and expect you to touch them.
  9. You will glide through massage school easily and graduate with honors and get a high paying ($45 an hour or more) right away – NOT.  Massage school often brings up peoples issues around touch and will often be a big growth process.  You will learn more about yourself.
  10. You want to be a massage therapist because you want to help others.  They don’t tell you that helping others is the surest way to end up in burnout and that there are many deeper issues around helping others that are more about you than anything else.

What do you wish someone told you about becoming a MT?  What did they tell you in the admissions department or during school that you wished you had known about before deciding on a career in massage?