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PPIB’s Medi-Spa Program Goes Way Beyond the Surface When it Comes to Insurance

Featuring Susan Preston, President & Founder, Professional Program Insurance Brokerage


Posted on 18 Jan 10

When it comes to thinking outside the box, Susan Preston, President and Founder of Professional Program Insurance Brokerage (PPIB), has found the right formula in selecting up-and-coming and trendy industries in need of coverage, the carriers to provide the coverage, and the pricing structure to make the programs affordable. Susan founded PPIB in 1993 after working at a company that served both the retail and wholesale sides of insurance, looking for opportunities that were outside the industry mainstream. She brought that maverick approach when forming PPIB and today has 17 employees based in Novato, California implementing and delivering cutting-edge programs for a number of industries. Susan is responsible for developing the programs, managing sales, and overseeing industry compliance.

“We are the true definition of a program manager,” says Susan. “We design applications, policy forms and endorsements and offer key services to the industries for which we have developed programs.”

PPIB has developed programs in the following industries: Tattoo and Body Piercing, Beauty Salons and Spas, Laser, and Medi-Spas. Additionally, PPIB provides a program for Translators and Interpreters and one for Graphic Designers. In this article, we will focus on PPIB’s program for Medi-Spas.

Medi-Spas, a combination of the medical profession and spa industry working together, offer the latest spin on the cosmetic surgery and anti-aging world. According to data provided by the International SPA Association 2009 U.S. Spa Industry Update, when looking at spas by type, the number of medical spas continues to grow at the fastest rate within this sector. Since July 2007, the number of medical spas has grown by 85 percent, further proof that this spa type is a notable part of the industry.

“The Medi-Spa industry has grown throughout the 2000 decade,” explains Susan. “It began with the laser business and expanded to injectibles, such as Botox and Juvederm, sclerotherapy, laser treatments, medical peels, and private label products. The last growth category within this field is weight loss centers and cellulite treatment.”

When asked about whether the economy has impacted the industry, Susan says that there has been some contraction and slowdown in growth. Funding is not as easily available to set up a new facility or to expand a business with additional or new equipment. “There are still new people entering the field…you’re just not seeing as much growth as before. The bottom line though is people will continue to spend money on themselves and how they look. And we’re constantly looking at our program and making sure that the price makes sense.”

The Medi-Spa program is available nationwide and is underwritten by Lloyd’s of London. “We find Lloyd’s to be very nimble as far as having the ability to look at new services and products in the market and determining quickly whether to provide the coverage while at the same time working with us to establish competitive pricing,” says Susan. “We like Lloyd’s because of its ability to change with the times.”

Susan explains that before developing the Medi-Spa program, as with any industry that PPIB decides to enter, she and her staff spent a great deal of time studying the market and determining the needs and risks. “For example, with lasers, problems can occur, such as burning or you may get hyper or hypo pigment of the skin. There are a number of exposures inherent with lasers and there can be a lot of claims,” says Susan. “The question then becomes what can you do to minimize these exposures. We provide the information and the forms to the agents/brokers to provide to their clients so that they better understand how to avoid these types of exposures and practice effective loss control measures.”

In fact, when PPIB entered the laser business, it established the standards and guidelines for how much training is needed when providing laser treatment whether it’s a doctor, nurse, or aesthetician doing the treatment. These standards are used throughout the industry.

PPIB also developed consent forms, medical history forms and after-care forms for the industry.

The Medi-Spa insurance program includes: Professional Liability, General Liability, Products Liability for those selling products for home use (such as facial creams and for those who’ve developed private-label cosmetics, and Property (on a BOP form).

PPIB quotes all business sizes, from the independent contractor to the big medical spas that have many contractors. “We design programs specific to each business’ needs and quote a premium that follows what the facility is offering,” says Susan. PPIB issues and binds all coverages through its offices. “We hold the pen, if you will, for our programs.”

PPIB has partnered with various associations. Members are eligible for insurance discounts if they promote loss control and education.

In addition to developing innovative programs for fast-growing, sustainable industries, PPIB extends its knowledge and marketing savvy to its brokers and agents. “We work with brokers and agents to help them sell this type of business, to educate them on the industry,” says Susan. “We provide printed marketing material customized with the agents’/brokers’ names, and we can analyze for them who their competitors are and how the Medi-Spa program compares. What’s more, we are responsive and work within their timeframe …we quote most risks between 24 and 48 hours. Those who work with us like our way of doing business.”

PPIB’s Gold-Level Agency program provides increased commission to those brokers and agents who have a favorable quote to bind ratio.

PPIB’s website includes Industry News – articles about the industry so that brokers/agents can understand the issues, and a Blog. When discussing their marketing strategy, Susan explains that when the company introduces a new program, it markets to brokers through blogs and on-line promotions. “Traditional print is fading,” says Susan. “We are open to trying all different methods to promote our programs.

“The Medi-Spa program presents an invaluable opportunity for brokers and agents, and we can help them make their way into the marketplace and help sell a program that’s more than based on a good price…it’s a program that comes with innovation, knowledge and access.”

To learn more about the Medi-Spa program and PPIB, please call 415.475.4300; or e-mail Susan at susan@ppibcorp.com or her associate, Jennifer Schoenthal at jennifer@medispa-ins.com.


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