(From a SmartMoney.com article) With the growth of the spa industry, consistent standards have become an afterthought. Industry associations do exist, but membership is strictly voluntary. The biggest one, ISPA, represents about 3,200 spas worldwide, but its application process isn’t exactly grueling. Members must agree to abide by the association’s “standards and practices,” which include requirements such as clean and staffers trained in CPR.
They also have to adhere to a code of conduct, which is a list of spa-goers’ rights and responsibilities, says ISPA’s executive director, Lynne Walker McNees. But in the end, spa industry regulations vary from , so there’s no uniform set of guidelines.
As a result, many spas carry inadequate insurance, says Mary Lynne Blaesser, a certified insurance counselor at the Marine Agency, which has provided coverage for about 15,000 spas. “In most states, the only insurance spas are required to carry by law is workers’ comp,” Blaesser says.Without professional or general liability in effect, an injured customer would have to seek recourse or reimbursement directly from the spa owner rather than an . However, most leases require that lessees carry general liability coverage for such things as trip and fall claims.
The combination of spotty insurance and almost nonexistent refund policies means one thing for dissatisfied customers: Good luck collecting if something goes wrong. And that applies even for the most egregious mishaps. Leandros Vrionedes, a personal-injury lawyer in New York City, had a client whose day-spa facial turned into a horror show. “The esthetician oversteamed the client and applied the wax immediately after,” Vrionedes says. “She wound up taking part of this person’s face off — several layers of skin were removed. The spa argued that it was the fault of the product and we didn’t have a case. We argued that it was the procedure.” After five years of legal wrangling, including trial to verdict and an appeal, the woman received an undisclosed settlement — which her lawyer describes as “not enough.”
Even when a spa does carry insurance, consumers may have a tough time obtaining compensation for injury.
“Some will fight you tooth and nail,” Vrionedes says. Don’t assume, though, that you have no case just because of some lengthy waiver you signed when you arrived at the facility. According to Vrionedes, some of these documents will hold up in court, but others won’t — especially those that are all-encompassing. If the release “absolves the spa of absolutely everything in the world,” he says, courts will sometimes void the agreement.