I don’t think getting insurance needs to be the first thing on your list. I didn’t have it until after I had gone full-time, and even then it was a couple years of building my business before I finally put up the money for it. But here are some things to consider:
There are two types of insurance: General Liability (slip and fall or “klutz” insurance) and Professional Liability (malpractice) insurance. I look at the two this way—General Liability if someone is woozy and falls off the Reiki table; General Liability if someone drops a tarot card on the floor bends down to pick it up and gashes their head on the corner of the table; General Liability if your client gets bit by the dog visiting the animal communicator in the office next door (you can probably get their insurance to cover it, but what if they don’t have insurance?); Professional Liability if I say, “Yes, you two are destined for each other and will be together until the day you die” and the next day she ends up in the hospital from him beating her to a pulp; Professional Liability because I tell a woman that she is about to embark on a great career change with lots of money, travel and interesting people and she ends up arrested for prostitution; Professional Liability if I tell someone I’ve balanced their chakras and so they don’t go to the doctor for the pain in their stomach and die of appendicitis. Etc. etc. Obviously this is why we have disclaimers as well. And, needless to say, why we try to actually be good at what we do and accurate in our readings and don’t diagnose when we do healing (or for that matter, don’t even call ourselves healers!).
Frequently if you are renting space (like an office) you will be required to have General Liability Insurance, and most of the insurance companies I’ve checked offer both the General and Professional liability insurance together as a package. I lucked out and the first place I rented an office the landlord waived that requirement (it was in the lease, but he crossed it out because he said he hadn’t found any practitioners who had insurance). Then when I was working as a store reader/practitioner at at a couple of local metaphysical stores I didn’t need it (or at least was never asked for it). I had already gotten the insurance by the time I rented an office full time at a metaphysical store, and the lease there did require insurance.
If you’re working out of your home, you will definitely want the insurance—there’s no one else you can pawn off the responsibility onto.
A Reiki organization that I’m a member of, Shibumi International Reiki Association, requires that you have insurance in order to be anything more than a general member. I wasn’t making that much money from Reiki, so I determined for myself that when my Reiki income reached a certain level I would get the insurance.
What actually ended up happening is that a couple years ago I was offered a job that paid $500 for reading tarot at a big fundraiser. I was required to have my own insurance. I determined at that time that it was worth it to pay a couple hundred dollars to get the insurance so I could do the gig. I’ve renewed my insurance every year since.
When you get your insurance, you will need to list “Additional Insureds” which would be your landlord if you have an office, or sometimes an organization that hires you for events. Basically, if someone ever tells you that you need to have insurance to work for them or at their location, when you get the insurance, the person/organization/location that required you to have it will probably need to be listed as an additional insured. Some insurance companies do the listing for no charge, some charge a nominal administrative fee like $10 per each additional insured added to the policy.
Reiki Insurance Options
There are some that are more focused on body work and movement therapy.
If you become a member of Shibumi International Reiki Association you can get discounted insurance through them. They offer insurance in the U.S., U.K., and Australia.
Shibumi uses Hands On Trade Association as their insurer in the States. This insurance is focused on bodywork and cosmetology—it covers massage, yoga, Reiki, Polarity Therapy, reflexology, estheticians, etc. They don’t cover tarot or any talk modalities.
William Rand’s International Center for Reiki Training offers insurance if you are a member of his organization.
Reiki and Tarot Insurance Options
I use Healing Touch Professional Association because they included both energy therapies like Reiki and talk modalities like tarot. They insure a number of modalities besides healing touch, and you don’t have to be a healing touch practitioner to get the insurance. They are also pretty flexible and will allow you to add your specific modality even if it’s not covered in their list (they let me add astrology). They require you to have some kind of certification or proof that you are trained in the modality. Also, they have an Instructor level of insurance available that covers classes of 10 to 99 students per class in addition to client sessions.
The International Institute for Complementary Therapies has been the main insurer for my tarot colleagues in the U.K. and Australia for years, and they finally opened up a U.S. branch. They cover tarot, Reiki, Polarity Therapy, astrology, angel card readings and 771 other modalities. I would probably have gone with them if they had a U.S. presence at the time I got my insurance. I might change to them, now that they finally have tarot listed. I think they are a little cheaper than the others. I linked to the U.S. version but they also have membership in Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. Use the flags at the top of the site to switch to the right country.
Note that with any of these, you need to pay an annual membership fee first, then buy the insurance. So to determine the total cost, look at the membership fee, the insurance, and the additional insureds.
Other Insurance Options
One last option is entertainer insurance. In addition to the usual annual policies, they have an option for insurance to cover a single event; so that might work if you are only worried about a single big fair that you do every year or something along those lines.
Questions to Ask
When you call or inquire about insurance, definitely ask about all the different modalities you offer and environments you work in. Will they cover you if you do sessions at a location that is not your primary business location—and we all do that, working at fairs, events, etc. Will they cover you if you are on stage (doing a talk, doing gallery readings, maybe someone trips and falls trying to get to the microphone to ask a question, who knows! etc.). Will they cover you at an outdoor fair. Will they cover you if you are working in a room full of hundreds of people like a big fair, as opposed to an office with a door that shuts. Ask if burning a candle or incense affects or negates your general liability insurance. Will your professional liability cover you for phone readings or distance energy work. What if there are animals in the building where you see clients? These seem like odd things, but it’s important to know what’s covered and insurance companies will have definitely thought of every crazy detail, so you should too.
Also be aware of what requirements you must follow in terms of informed consent, letting people know about your insurance, etc. People have told me that they have insurance but would never tell anyone because it would invite litigation, but sometimes you might be required by law to state whether or not you have insurance. The Colorado Natural Health Consumer Protection Act (for alternative healing practitioners) requires you to include whether or not you have insurance on your informed consent form.
In some countries insurance is required, or there are more strict laws about it. Always check local laws.
It might be helpful to review famous litigation cases in our profession, such as Miss Cleo and the Long Island Psychic (or whatever she’s called). I don’t know any details on either one, but if you research both cases with an eye to finding out what people accused them of and how the case was handled, you might get some good insight into what you need to be insured for.
I hope this answers most of your questions about insurance!
Oh, and needless to say, I’m a tarot reader, not an attorney, and this is just my understanding of the topic and could be full of errors. Please forgive me if I’ve made a mistake!
Joy Vernon has been studying and teaching energetic and esoteric modalities for more than twenty years. She is one of the psychics at Isis Books and is a Certified Professional Tarot Reader and a member of the American Tarot Association and Tarosophy Tarot Association. Joy is also a Reiki Teacher specializing in Traditional Japanese Reiki. She is a Reiki Practitioner and Teacher in the Usui Reiki Ryôhô lineage through the International House of Reiki. She is also a certified Komyo Reiki Shihan (Teacher) and studied under Komyo Reiki Kai Founder Hyakuten Inamoto in 2011 and 2013. Joy first trained in Usui Shiki Ryôhô/Usui Tibetan Reiki in 2003, earning her Teacher certification in that lineage in 2005. She is the Organizer of the Denver Traditional Reiki Meetup and is a member of Shibumi International Reiki Association and the Healing Touch Professional Association.
© 2015 by Joy Vernon. All rights reserved.
Joy Vernon is widely recognized by tarot professionals as an expert tarot teacher and respected community leader. With over twenty years’ experience teaching energetic and esoteric modalities, Joy brings expertise and practiced familiarity to her specialty of esoteric tarot, which layers astrological and qabalistic symbolism onto the traditional tarot structure. Under her leadership, the Denver Tarot Meetup has grown into one of the largest and most active tarot-specific meetups in the world. Joy works as a tarot reader, astrologer, and teacher at Isis Books. To learn more, please visit JoyVernon.com.