Coronavirus and Massage—FAQs

Read the Latest

COVID-19 Updates

for the Massage Profession

Can I work? Should I work?
Given current conditions, several factors must be taken into account as you consider your practice. First, check your state and county regulations, as stay-at-home restrictions are being updated often. We also encourage you to read our Back-to-Practice statement for a full review of considerations. 

Is my liability insurance valid during this time?
As long as you are in compliance with your state and local regulations, your liability insurance is valid. Check here for state updates. 

Does the insurance policy included with ABMP membership cover COVID-19 transmission? What about other liability insurance policies?
The insurance policy included with ABMP membership contains an exclusion:
“39. Transmission or Fear of Disease. Any claim arising from or related to the transmission of Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome or Human Immunodeficiency Virus, or exposure to another having same, or to substances or materials contaminated with same, or fear of contracting Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome or Human Immunodeficiency Virus or any other disease or illness; or any sexually transmitted disease; or any form of communicable disease.”

We are aware of recent messaging regarding the coverage of claims and COVID-19 transmission in massage therapy. In the spirit of full transparency, there are no black-and-white answers to these questions. Based on a review conducted by insurance industry experts, especially focusing on “sickness,” “disease,” and “microbial transmission,” there is no liability insurance policy in the massage profession that can unconditionally claim coverage of infectious disease transmission. Language stating "there is no direct exclusion" is not the same as an affirmation of coverage. We suggest being wary of any such assurances and asking for precise language that you would be covered, instead of relying on language that a specific exclusion does not exist.

To help bridge the gap and reduce risk, ABMP created an informed client consent form, Health Information: COVID-19 Addendum. While not a guarantee, such a waiver could provide legal protection. As is the case with any legal agreement, policy, or form, it would be subject to review and dependent on the level of enforcement provided in each state.

In addition, to help keep you and your clients safe, we’ve produced a thorough Back-to-Practice Guide to consult when as you consider returning to work. 

Is my job as a massage therapist considered “essential”?
ABMP does not determine whether massage is essential or nonessential; that is a decision made by local and federal authorities. Check here for state updates. 

Are virtual sessions included in my liability insurance policy?
Your liability insurance policy is valid with virtual sessions under the following circumstances:

  • The client must be located in the same state that the practitioner is legally allowed to practice in;
  • For new clients, the practitioner must do a full intake form;
  • The practitioner must be able to see the client as they are virtually working with her/him;
  • The sessions are live and not prerecorded;
  • Policy language applies (exclusions, etc.). The practitioner must be within scope of practice.

The above constitutes expanded emergency coverage, and is conditional based on the unique COVID-19 pandemic circumstances, during which practitioners can’t perform hands-on work. Please check back for updates on virtual coverage, as the situation evolves.

Are virtual product recommendations included in my liability insurance policy?
Recommending retail sales products during a virtual consultation session is acceptable as long as the practitioner has met the virtual consultation session circumstances above. Practitioners are not to sell “Professional-Use Only” products to clients.

Does my policy cover me for being out of work (business interruption)?
Your liability insurance policy does not cover business interruption. The “Loss of Earnings” clause in the policy specifically pertains to a member being reimbursed if they are required to take time away from their practice because of a lawsuit against them that is covered under the policy.

Can I apply for unemployment benefits or financial help?
Yes, we believe the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) issued March 27, 2020, allows massage therapists to file for unemployment benefits. Under the CARES Act, unemployment insurance benefits will temporarily be available to “an eligible self-employed individual” . . . “an individual who regularly carries on any trade or business.” It appears that this expanded eligibility applies to individuals who work “part-time,” a government definition that would cover a large proportion of massage therapists, estheticians, hair stylists, and nail professionals. You have to take the initiative to apply for unemployment insurance. 

Learn about unemployment benefits in your states. Be aware that states are working to create the policy and processes for self-employed unemployment as of April 1, 2020. It is expected be online in all states no later than April 10, 2020. Many members are sharing their individual application experiences and information on Facebook at www.facebook.com/abmppage.

I have more questions. Can I contact you?
Yes, please! We’re here for you, and our member service team is available Monday-Friday, 7:30 a.m.–5:00 p.m. MT. Call us at 800-458-2267 or email expectmore@abmp.com.

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Comments

When things start to open back up, what should I do to my business to protect my self and clients? I know washing hands, sanatizing face cradle and surfaces but is there anything new I need to implement that I’m not thinking about? So when things do slowly open up I can protect everyone. Thanks

I have worked this long (21 years)  in massage therapy because I accept the challenge of helping people and I am happy I chose this profession. However I am approaching 73 years of age and I have to say I am apprehensive. I am in excellent health and am one of the top  four in my spa who  have done the most massages in a given year. I am thinking it only takes one unknowingly-Covid-positive client to be my demise.. seriously perplexed as to the odds here!

In MN we are still in a stay at home order (extended to 5/17).  I work for a chiropractor, who re-opened the office last month because it was deemed exempt from order. They would like me to return to work.  MN Chiro Association states of clarification of massage in chiropractic clinics exempt if it is medical massage. So, would going back to work at chiropractor impact my liability coverage? 

I have the same question. I'm feeling a little pressured by my clinic owner to return for massage since it technically falls under medical at the chiro clinic, but our county in OR is not yet in phase (also, I feel it is currently unsafe to return). I'm afraid my unemployment benefits will be jeopardized if I refuse to return before our county even enters phase 1 as well as questioning whether my liability insurance would even be active?

Will my liability insurance protect me in the event that someone contracts Covid-19 through me or my office despite my best sanitation practices?

Nancy

How do you handle a client who just doesn't want to wear a mask? I will be opening soon and have sent out an email letting clients know about the changes and I have two that really don't want to wear a mask but still want to be seen.