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Neon – a big ol’ can of worms!

Neon is certainly the buzz word at the moment, and not necessarily for all the right reasons.

In the UK, one of our largest organisations recently released a statement stating that neon colours would not be covered under your insurance unless they specifically state on the back that they “are for cosmetic use” or “conform to EC 1223/2009”.  This was after extensive discussion with several large UK insurance companies, but unfortunately different people are being told different things, by different insurers. This is leading to a lot of confusion on social media, and we want to provide our knowledge to help  alleviate some of the stress.

The first, and most important thing to note is that the organisation who released the statement is not at all to blame for the confusion. The truth is; this is not a policy change, or new piece of legislation, but simply something we as an industry chose to ignore.

If a manufacturer wishes to call a product cosmetic, it must undergo rigorous testing under cosmetic guideline “EC 1223/2009”. This particular testing looks at multiple layers of the product; ingredients, reactions, safety, supply chain, restrictions, prohibitations, labelling, product claims and more.  In fact, this particular document is 151 pages long, contains over 1000 recognised substance categories, 35 articles and 16 annex… in other words there’s a lot to get through.

If (as is the case in neon) there are one or more ingredients that are not recognised as safe by the EC then the product cannot be listed or sold as cosmetic by the manufacturer.

You have to understand, this does not immediately mean that the product is not safe, but simply that the EC do not feel it meets their strict guidelines. In fact, all manufacturers have had their neon products individually tested by cosmetic companies to ensure safety, and I like to believe they wouldn’t sell something they didn’t think was safe (not least because that’s a liability nightmare).

But here is where it affects you; insurance.

Now, in actuality, there is no legal requirement for you to have insurance in the UK, but if anything happens, you’d be liable.  You could end up with thousands of pounds worth of compensation to pay, and it could utterly destroy you.

Insurance works to take liability of cost away from you by using a system called “pooling”.  It something used in every insurance industry where they group together a lot of different risk factors, and undwriters and actuarials then work out the chance of compensation vs the claim cost vs premium.  When you pay insurance, you’re not just paying for your risk but for every face painter. Which is why it is so important that we self-regulate our industry.

In order for the insurance company to take the cost away from you, they have to limit the chances of a claim.  They do this with the one and only law we really have to work with; EC1223/2009.  This means, whatever the EC say is what any insurance company will take as law, and what you must abide by if you wish to be covered by them.

All of this is quite a mouthful to take in, but in actuality it can be split down into simple bullet points;

1) If the EC do not recognise a product, they will not accept it under their guidelines.

2) This does not make the product unsafe, but as the insurers rely on EC Law they will likely not insure it.

3) It is the responsibility of the manufacturer to ensure that their products are labelled as EC approved.

4) The insurer will expect the labelling of your product to say one of two things; “this product is accepted under EC1223/2009” or “for cosmetic use” (which implies it meets EC cosmetic guidelines). If your product does not say this, then you can assume your product would not be covered in the event of a claim.

5) Some products will state for SFX use, and some insurance companies will allows the product if you have SFX in your insurance. However this is down to the individual insurer, and they have the right to refuse if they feel the risk is too high.

6) It is your choice as to whether you use neon, but remember you do so at your own risk. It is also within the insurers right to invalidate your insurance if they feel you are not safely following manufacturers guidelines.

7) not having the labelling normally implies it doesn’t meet the legislation. EC labelling is expensive and lengthy, if you have it, you’d flaunt it. Unfortunately ignorance will not be bliss.

8) The only way to be sure is to have it in writing from your insurer as to whether a particular product is safe, and the insurer may not want to, and is under no obligation to, confirm that a product is. The truth is, in the event of a claim they will fail safe to any laws that exist, regardless of what they have previously said, and you may find yourself in hot water as a result.  This, you will normally find, is within the fine print of your contract.

By no means is our understanding an exclusive overview, but our advice to you is; if in doubt, leave it out. We have gone through the shop to label as best as we can, according to what the manufacturers have labelled. If we cannot see EC labelling, we will state this. If it has advice for SFX from the manufacturer, we will also announce this.

But, the choice as whether or not to use these products, knowing what you now know, remains yours.

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