Underage Tanners, Parental-Consent Forms And The Tanning Salon

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Posted : 01/01/2003

Underage Tanners, Parental-Consent Forms And The Tanning Salon

IMAGE IS EVERYTHING FOR TEEN-AGERS, SO MANY OF THEM FREQUENT TANNING SALONS IN HOPES OF ATTAINING THE PERFECT BRITNEY SPEARS-LIKE BRONZE BODY. GRANTED, SPEARS' IMAGE IS A GOOD THING FOR TANNING SALON BUSINESS; HOWEVER, UNDERAGE TANNERS WHO DO NOT HAVE PARENTAL CONSENT CAN CREATE ANGRY PARENTS AND POTENTIAL LEGAL TROUBLE FOR SALONS.

The judgment of a person under 18 years old may be skewed when the most important issue on his or her mind is to look great for a special event. It is highly recommended that salons take precautions with younger customers. As long as they tan using prescribed procedures, based on sound principles and manufacturers' recommendations, there is no reason why young adults cannot tan indoors.

It is important for salon owners to ensure that customers make educated choices regarding tanning--particularly minors. However, it is questionable whether teen-agers can make such decisions. Will a minor answer questions honestly, especially if he or she is on an acne medication or antibiotics that increase photosensitivity? Some teen-agers are embarrassed about taking such medication, yet they may not be aware that certain ones can make them more sensitive to the tanning process. For example, some teen-agers are prescribed Accutane, one of the most powerful acne medications and one known to make the skin extremely sensitive to ultraviolet light.

Many states have specific laws regarding age limits. For example, Ohio rules require a salon operator to obtain written consent from a parent or legal guardian prior to tanning anyone under 16 years old. A tanner over age 16 and under age 18 must obtain written consent the same as those under age 16, unless they posses a valid driver's license or state identification card. This written consent must be signed at the tanning salon and must specify the number of sessions consented to and must become part of the tanner's record. You can find a list of state regulatory offices at www.tanningtraining.com for verification of your state requirements.

Even if your local laws don't address age limits, it is strongly recommended--from an insurance standpoint--that anyone under 16 years old have a parent present each time he or she tans, as well as a signed consent form. It is also recommended that tanners under 18 years old obtain written consent from their parent or legal guardian.

These precautions are important for liability considerations. Ultimately, the salon wants to avoid any injuries associated with tanning; however, history has shown that the parent of a minor will pursue litigation and hold the salon liable for any injuries.

Recently, there was a claim involving high-school girls who tanned at a local salon before prom. The girls tanned in a bed that had a cracked facial filter and, to compound the situation, they were taking antibiotics and topical tretinoin. They suffered severe burns that required medical attention at a local hospital. The parents sued the salon and received a settlement.

Had the salon known the girls were taking medications, they would not have been allowed to tan. Also, the bed with the cracked filter glass should have been taken out of service.

Don't put your salon at risk; check your state and local regulations on tanning customers under age 18. Follow those regulations consistently. If there aren't any local regulations addressing age limits, develop your own in-house age policy. Using good judgment with teen-age tanners will reduce your risk of losing money, time and possible lawsuits.

No matter the size of your salon, securing adequate coverage is essential for protecting your business and your peace of mind. Universal Insurance Facilities, Ltd. offers a complete package of coverages specifically designed to meet the unique needs of the tanning industry. Universal's program is underwritten by the American International Group, one of the world's largest commercial insurance and financial services organizations, and is rated A++ (Superior) by A.M. Best Company. For more information, or to get a quick, no-obligation quote, contact Universal Insurance Facilities, Ltd., P.O. Box 40079, Phoenix, AZ 85067-0079, call (800) 844-2101, fax (480) 970-6240, visit www.vpico.com/universal or e-mail uif@vpico.com.

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