Popular Ipswich tattoo parlour, Compass Tattoo, is being forced to close its doors this October after a dramatic rise in insurance costs has left them with no other option.
The popular Brisbane Street business has been in Ipswich for over 6 years, and co-owner Angela Nayler says they simply cannot afford the exorbitant increase in insurance costs.
“Our insurance was going to go up from $10,000 to $41,000 per year,” Ms Nayler said.
“This is because insurance companies have declared our business high risk and the building is also heritage listed.”
Angela believes that part of the problem comes from an outdated notion linking criminal stereotypes to the tattoo industry.
“They are declaring our tattoo parlour high risk despite the fact that we’ve been here for six years and prior to that this shop was a tattoo parlour that had been here since 2000,” Angela said.
“You have to be fully licensed, which means you have to have do a police check, get fingerprinted and of course you can’t have any association with motorcycle gangs.
“A lot of people believe that the high risk comes from the bike gangs, yet a risk assessment hasn’t been done on the tattoo industry in 20 years so insurance companies may well be looking at us like we’re still 1990’s bikers.”
An Insurance Council of Australia spokesperson said that insurance globally is currently in a ‘hard’ market, meaning capital is harder to get and insurers’ risk appetites are lower.
“This may impact the types of cover insurers are willing to underwrite,” the spokesperson said.
“Insurance premiums are based on risk. Each insurer has their own underwriting criteria and will use these criteria to determine the risk of individual policies and policy categories.
“An increase in claims activity of an individual or industry segment may lead to premium increases, or the insurer choosing not to offer insurance.
But Angela believes it is not a change in the activity of her business or that tattoo industry at large that has led to the dramatic insurance hike.
“I don’t think the risk has changed. I think insurance companies have changed,” Angela said.
“They just look at us and think oh no, it’s too risky even though we’ve never claimed anything on insurance, and we’ve been here all this time.
“It’s hard to explain. It’s hard to understand. I can’t even understand it. It doesn’t make sense, but it is what it is.”
Angela believes the publicity the insurance hike has stirred has started a wider conversation.
“The Australian Tattoo Guild has advised they are working with the government at the moment to try fix things but obviously everything takes time,” she said.
“But it’s not just our industry that is being impacted by these insurance hikes, particularly after the many natural disasters Ipswich has experienced.”
In the meantime, Angela says the six tattoo artists who are currently employed at Compass Tattoo are actively looking for new work as the businesses closure date looms.
“It is sad because these artists have brought good art to the people of Ipswich, and it’s sad for the people of Ipswich that they may have to travel outside of Ipswich for that now.
As for what’s next for Angela and her husband Nailz, who co-owns the business, she said the pair are still actively looking for a new place to set up shop.
“We would love to stay in Ipswich, we love Ipswich and we’ve got our three kids here,” Angela said.
“Hopefully early next year something will arise, and we’ll take the opportunity.