Once you are a certified personal trainer, it’s important to take as many steps as possible to protect yourself, your business, and your career from a disastrous event. Liability insurance is one way you can protect yourself in case of a lawsuit so it is recommended that all personal trainers, group exercise instructors, fitness trainers, and fitness facilities have a liability insurance policy.
Read on to learn more about why liability insurance is important and tips to help you find liability insurance. Ready to grow your personal training business? Request a demo of our All-In-One Fitness Business Management Software today.
What Is Liability Insurance?
Just like you want to protect your home and your car from accidents and damages with homeowners or auto insurance, liability insurance protects you from the financial implications of a lawsuit initiated by a client. Liability insurance protects you from being financially responsible for the client’s medical bills, lost wages, and legal fees in the case of a lawsuit.
If a member gets hurt or injured during or related to physical activity, they may wish to sue the personal trainer, fitness trainer, group exercise instructor, or fitness facility. Let’s say you were training a new client. They are healthy with no medical issues, no previous injuries, and no limitations. You have them complete a participant waiver, an informed consent form, and your participant information forms.
During your third training session, your client is doing some box jumps and lands in an awkward position. The client mentions their knee is hurting, so they take it easy for a few minutes and finish your session. The client claims that you didn’t instruct them well on how to land properly from a box jump and it’s your fault they injured their knee.
You believe that you did instruct them properly prior to the exercise session. It’s your word against their word. This is where liability insurance is your friend.
Another situation may be that a client did not meet his/her fitness goals and blames you. This unhappy client may bring a lawsuit against you for not meeting their expectations as a personal trainer.
Liability insurance does not protect you against being sued by a client, but it does protect you against financial ruin as a result of being sued by a client. Liability insurance helps cover the cost of medical expenses, lost wages as a result of injury or issues, and any legal fees.
Who Needs Liability Insurance?
It is highly advisable that all personal trainers are covered by a liability insurance policy. One lawsuit could have long-term financial implications, lead to bankruptcy, or end your career as a personal trainer.
Liability insurance protects personal trainers from professional negligence. This negligence results in some type of loss for the client, with the most common being bodily injury. Personal trainers may not purposely act in a negligent manner or may not think they acting in a negligent manner, but it is not always a clear cut as that.
Health clubs, gyms, fitness facilities, and personal training studios offer general and/or professional liability insurance. Their liability insurance policies may provide some coverage for personal trainers, but it’s important to ask and find out for sure.
Some companies or businesses may require trainers to purchase their own professional liability policies, whereas others may not require this. It’s still a good idea to have your own personal liability insurance policy with the proper types of insurance coverage.
Personal trainers should also have their clients complete standard waivers, informed consent, and basic participant medical informational forms. You are covering all of your bases by having waivers and informed consent to protect you, plus gathering important information about your client’s health so you are aware of any potential adverse situations.
A more important question is why wouldn’t you want to have liability insurance? There’s no downside and it’s a small price to pay for the peace of mind that it provides. The risk of a lawsuit should be a concern to all personal trainers.
Personal trainers may do everything in their power to protect their clients from injuries or issues, but no one is 100% protected against a lawsuit. Liability insurance also protects you against the unknown.
How Much Does Liability Insurance Cost?
It depends on the level of coverage you choose and if you pay a one-year or a two-year premium. Most one year premiums range from $100-$230 a year depending on the amount of coverage you choose. If you pay a two-year premium upfront, it might be a little cheaper per year than paying one year at a time.
Some also allow you to pay by the month, which means some policies are as cheap as $10 to $20 a month.
Coverage for part-time employees can be cheaper than coverage for full-time employees, so that is one thing to consider if you are a part-time personal trainer.
The table below shows an example of liability insurance costs from ACE Fitness and their partnership with InterWest Insurance. These costs are just estimates and may vary state-by-state. Value in the top column refers to “per occurrence/annual total.”
|1-Year Policy||$1 Million / $3 Million||$2 Million / $4 Million||$2 Million / $5 Million|
|Damage to premises||$100,000||$100,000||$100,000|
|Products liability||$1 million annual||$1 million annual||$1 million annual|
|Sexual abuse liability||$100,000 per occurrence/$300,000 annual||$100,000 per occurrence/$300,000 annual||$100,000 per occurrence/$300,000 annual|
|General and professional liability||$1 million per occurrence/$3 million annual||$2 million per occurrence/$4 million annual||$2 million per occurrence/$5 million annual|
What Is Covered Under a Liability Insurance Policy?
A liability insurance policy for personal trainers usually has different types of coverage. This can include general and professional liability coverage. The basic coverage falls into categories for personal injury liability, sexual abuse liability, product liability, medical payments, and damage to premises.
Professional liability covers a person or entity against negligence or wrongful acts whereas general liability covers a person or entity against accidents. If you are working in a fitness center, health club, or gym, they may have some types of coverage, but it’s important to ask and get your own policy for personal coverage.
- Personal injury liability protects against claims that apply to bodily injuries that can occur as a result of physical activity, like a torn ligament, a sprain, or a broken bone.
- Sexual abuse liability protects you against claims of sexual harassment or sexual assault. This does not mean that you did anything related to sexual assault or harassment, but that a client claims you did.
- Product liability coverage applies to products and equipment. It could apply to equipment that breaks and causes an injury, like a resistance band or dietary supplements that you recommend that may make someone ill or cause an adverse reaction.
- Medical payments coverage applies to the cost of any medical procedures or health care costs.
- Damage to premises coverage applies to damage to a facility, equipment, or home.
Regardless of the coverage you choose, it’s important to minimize as many risks to your clients as possible. All personal trainers should make sure the exercise space is safe, encourage safe progression, and staying focused on proper form and technique. These are things all personal trainers should have the proper experience and knowledge to do during all training sessions.
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Where Can You Get Liability Insurance?
A simple Google search of personal training liability insurance brings up a number of insurance companies that offer liability insurance policies. You can also check with your trusted insurance agent or broker to discuss liability insurance policies.
Make sure that you read through the company reviews, examine all the details of the policies, and choose a trusted insurance provider.
If you are certified or a member of a professional fitness organization like ACSM, NASM, or ACE Fitness, many of them partner with insurance companies to offer discounted rates on liability insurance. Here are some of the options of professional organizations that have a partnership to offer liability insurance.
- ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine) works with Forrest T. Jones to offer liability insurance to its members and certified professionals.
- NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine) has a relationship with one company to offer discounted liability insurance to its certified professionals.
- ACE Fitness also has a partnership to offer discounted liability insurance for its certified professionals.
- IDEA Health and Fitness Association has partnered with Lockton Infinity to offer personal trainer liability insurance.
Do Online Personal Trainers Need Liability Insurance?
Yes, but it is not readily available yet. There is not a lot of information available about liability insurance for online personal trainers. This area of personal training is relatively new and the legal implications need to catch up in this area.
While there have not been any lawsuits for online personal training yet, you should still have professional liability coverage to protect yourself and your business. You should also have clients complete an Informed Consent form and participant information forms with health and medical information just as you would if you were personal training face-to-face.
It would be wise to consult with a legal professional for additional information.
Do Self-Employed Personal Trainers Need Liability Insurance?
Yes. If you train clients at your home, do not count on your homeowner’s insurance policy to cover you in case of a negligent event. Many homeowner’s policies have an exclusion for professional or business activities unless you have additional coverage for the personal training business.
If you are training clients outside or at their home, you still need a liability insurance policy. You may want to share information about where you will be training clients with your insurance professional so they can advise you on the right coverage. Consult with a legal professional for additional assistance.
The Bottom Line
It is a smart idea to have professional liability coverage as a personal trainer, no matter if you are training clients in a gym, your home, their home, or outside. Professional liability insurance does not protect personal trainers from being the target of a lawsuit, but it can protect against bankruptcy or life-changing career impact.
If you have a unique personal training situation where you are training clients outdoors, in public spaces, or online, it’s always best to consult with a legal professional to make sure your coverage meets the needs of your situation.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
If I don’t want to pay for liability insurance, can I still be a personal trainer?
While there is no good reason NOT to have liability insurance, there is also nothing to prevent you from training clients if you do not have a professional liability insurance policy. Some fitness facilities and gyms will require you to have a personal professional liability policy, but some may not. If you train clients independently or work as an independent contractor, there are no laws forcing you to have liability insurance.
If I work at a gym that has liability insurance, do I need my own policy?
Check with your supervisor or the manager or owner of the gym to see what they recommend. It’s still a good option to have your own personal professional liability coverage even if your employer has a general liability policy. The business’s general liability policy does not usually extend to professional liability coverage for employees.
None of my clients would ever sue me. Do I still need liability insurance?
We all want to hope that our clients would never sue us, but there is no 100% guarantee that a client will not bring a lawsuit against you. Liability insurance will protect your assets and career in the event that it does happen.
All personal trainers should make sure clients are participating in a safe and effective workout program to help them meet their health and fitness goals. Ready to manage your fitness business? Schedule a demo with Exercise.com today.