Insurance premiums for tattoo shops leaving businesses facing the prospect of closure – ABC News

Insurance premiums for tattoo shops leaving businesses facing the prospect of closure - ABC News

For the past eight years, a tattoo studio has occupied 205 Brisbane Street in Ipswich, but that’s about to change.

Key points:

Family-owned business Compass Tattoo will shut its doors in six months’ time, with nowhere to go.

A recent change in their landlord’s insurance has forced their eviction, creating a frightening ultimatum: pay $30,000 a year — on top of their normal expenses — to keep their prime spot or get out.

“Our landlord has come to us and said the only way they can renew our lease is if we take on a pretty substantial landlord insurance bill,” co-owner of the studio Angela Nayler said.

“His insurance every year is around $11,000 for the building. This year, if he keeps Compass Tattoo as a tenant, he’s looking at around $41,000.”

The mother of three said it’s a bill the business simply cannot afford.

“He wants to keep us on. He’s tried over 20 insurance companies and they all say the same thing — they won’t insure him if there’s a tattoo store in the building, because we’re classed as high risk,” she said.

“There are only a few [insurers] in Australia who will cover us, and they’re able to push up prices as much as they like.”

Tattoo parlours not covered ‘due to gang affiliation’

Ms Nayler said she had contacted over a dozen other insurers in a desperate search for an explanation for why tattoo studios were classed as high risk.

She said a broker at Shield Insurance told her many insurers would not cover tattoo parlours “due to gang affiliation and all of those sorts of things”.

In a statement, Shield Insurance said “insurers generally relay broad feedback such as it being outside of their underwriting scope, due to the high risk of the activity.”

“Gallagher Insurance has a facility for tattoo artists and to my knowledge this is the only option in-market.”

A man tattooing someon's shoulder.

Arthur J Gallagher insurance has been contacted for comment.

An Insurance Council of Australia spokesman said capital is harder to come by so insurers’ risk appetites are lower.

“Each insurer bases the offering of a premium on their claims experience,” a spokesman said.

“An increase in claims activity in a segment can lead to an increase in premiums for that segment, or the insurer choosing not to offer insurance to that segment at all.”

Tattoo studios disappearing across the country

Matthew Sullivan from Eternal Mark Tattoo in Gympie said he had been made to feel like a criminal, despite having never been behind bars or committing a crime.

“I don’t feel like I fall under the category of [an artist] or anything like that,” he said.

“I’m basically put in the category of outlaw motorcycle member even though I’m not.”

A bearded man stands in a tattoo parlour full of colourful paintings.

His rent has doubled this year after his landlord copped an insurance price hike of $16,000 because he had a tattooist as a tenant.

“We’ve gone from having an insurance premium of $4,000 to like over $20,000,” he said.

“I have to pass the extra cost to the customer.”

He said he feared the extra cost on top of his other expenses could put him out of business.

“Some days I feel like shutting the doors because I’m copping all these extra payments and I’m just like what’s the worth?” Mr Sullivan said.

“Something’s got to change otherwise we’re going to see a lot more small businesses shut down.”

Association with criminality ‘outdated’

Australian Tattooist Guild president Alex Cairns said it was a “common” issue nationwide.

“Almost every tattoo shop owner that I’ve spoken to in the last two years has the same problem,” he said.

A man works on a tattoo on the lower back of a customer.

He said the industry had moved beyond its dark past with organised crime.

“I think there’s an outdated association with an element of criminality,” he said. 

“That’s a couple of decades out of date.”

In order for tattooists to be licensed, they have to undergo strict background checks, including fingerprinting in both Queensland and New South Wales.

“You’d be pretty hard pressed to find examples where there was [links to organised crime].”

‘It’s unfair, it’s discriminatory’

James Thompson and Samantha Morrison stand in the tattoo parlour.

Red Hill building owner Samantha Morrison made the decision to evict her “loyal” tattooist tenant after she received an updated building insurance bill for an additional $10,000.

“We’re losing the best tenant that we’ve ever had,” she said.

Ms Morrison said when she questioned the price hike with her insurance company she was told it was because of the tattoo parlour.

“[They] mentioned Molotov cocktails, bombings,” she said.

“It’s unfair, it’s discriminatory.

“Our tenant has no affiliates whatsoever — not even a parking ticket in his criminal history.

“I don’t think this is beneficial for anyone except the people who are getting paid big commissions and throwing these bogus charges on poor little mum-and-dad businesses.”

This content was originally published here.

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