Working out in a gym comes with risks. Risks impact customers, owners, and workers in the gym. Even though gym members usually sign standard waivers, gym owners wisely carry general and other types of liability insurance. Members can get hurt and, when injured, may file a lawsuit against the gym and/or their personal trainer.
Personal trainers probably won’t be covered in a commercial general liability contract.
If the trainers are self-employed and rent space from the gym, the gym’s insurance policy doubtfully covers claims against them.
New and even experienced personal trainers may not think about matters related to liability insurance. Such an oversight can prove disastrous if ever found at fault for a client’s injury. Liability insurance protects professionals whose assets could be at risk after a mishap.
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Explaining “Have to Have”
Does a personal trainer have to have insurance to train people? Those who wish to rent time or barter with a gym may be required to purchase insurance before being allowed to accept clients, which could be a requirement with both major gyms or small ones.
Or, the gym may not require the trainer to purchase insurance. Different gyms are sure to have different policies. Other locations may require personal trainers to carry insurance. To train people at a community center, for example, could come with such a requirement.
A personal trainer could teach in a public place or at his/her home and do so without insurance. Certain clients could refuse to work with a trainer who doesn’t carry insurance, but such instances are rare. So, the trainer may or may not need insurance depending on the circumstances. Trainers should also check local state laws to determine if business-related insurance is mandatory.
Mandatory or not, there is no good argument for not carrying insurance. Most experienced fitness professionals believe it wise to purchase professional liability insurance for personal training.
Standard general liability insurance might be fine for certain businesses, but the physical nature of personal training comes with more risks than other business ventures. Insurance specifically intended for personal trainers may be far more beneficial.
Imagine if a client tore a hamstring due to a personal trainer’s mistake. The trainer could be required to pay medical bills, pay for the client’s pain and suffering, and more. Had a policy been in place, insurance could cover the losses associated with negligence.
Whether a personal trainer is mandated to purchase insurance really is moot. Purchasing insurance is advisable when requiring clients to perform physical activities and exercises.
The Question of Negligence
Negligence means the trainer did something or failed to do something, which led to a client’s injury. Simply because the client suffers an injury would probably not be enough to lay the blame on the trainer. The trainer would have to be negligent.
Negligence can take many forms. Not having a client fill out a basic health questionnaire and unknowingly training someone with a heart condition could be disastrous. Providing a client with poorly-maintained equipment or adding too much weight to a barbell, causing injury, likely places fault with a trainer.
Basic Personal Trainer Insurance Coverage
Examining and reviewing insurance options won’t be complicated. Three very basic coverage options exist:
- Personal Injury Liability
- Product Liability
- Sexual Harassment or Abuse
Each of these policies covers very different perils. Not every trainer may decide to purchase all three policies, but doing so delivers significant protection.
Personal Injury Liability
Personal injury liability protection for trainers is similar to liability coverage found on a homeowner’s or auto policy. The coverage protects against bodily injury suffered by a client due to negligence. If someone suffers a broken limb, a claim against the policy could be made.
The policy might cover all legal expenses related to any lawsuits and even potentially cover other perils such as libel and slander. Reviewing several policies becomes necessary to locate the best personal injury liability policy and protect the interests of a personal trainer.
Personal trainers frequently make extra money selling equipment, nutritional supplements, and other products. What if a defective product harms someone? A snapped bungee cord during arm curls could inflict injury, and the client may take the trainer to court. With the right insurance in place, the policy could very well cover the expenses associated with a poor product.
Sexual Harassment and Abuse
Trainers shouldn’t dismiss this coverage since even miscommunication — as opposed to overt, deliberate action — could lead to a sexual harassment suit. Defending false charges can be expensive. The professionally and financially prudent may find this policy helpful.
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Costs and Coverages
The costs associated with personal trainer insurance are very reasonable. Finding affordable insurance from a solid company is possible and reflects a smart business investment. For a nominal annual fee, acquiring $1 million or more in coverage per incident — to an established limit — presents protections in the event of a disaster.
Shopping around and performing comparison shopping increases the ability to buy the right policy.
Be thorough when examining policies, and review all insurance companies’ ratings. Buy from an insurance provider with solid financial strength.
Additional Coverage Options
Is there such a thing as purchasing too much insurance? No one facing a lawsuit probably wishes he/she had little or no insurance. Sometimes, purchasing added coverage is worth it.
People who train clients out of their homes cannot rely on their homeowner’s insurance policy since professional activities are generally excluded. Acquiring premises liability, general liability, or additional coverage could be worth spending the money. Again, the insurance could pay for itself many times over in the event of a loss.
Training out of a home is one example. Some might train at the beach or even an empty parking lot. Maybe it would be best to tell the policy underwriter about the location and specific circumstances associated with the training sessions.
Make No Assumptions About the Policy
Personal trainers like to craft unique programs. Doing so makes sense since clients enjoy original, innovative programs. A combination of, say, kettlebells, bodyweight exercises, and cardio kickboxing could appeal to many.
Personal trainers, however, might assume all three of these activities are covered under a personal trainer’s liability policy. A big question mark may exist. For example, is cardio kickboxing an activity that can only be covered under a martial arts instructor’s insurance policy?
If someone is injured performing cardio kickboxing and the insurance company excludes this activity, then the instructor would not be covered. Sadly, some discover their oversight and exclusions too late.
Personal training means one-on-one instruction. What happens if you train two or more people at the same time? That could be considered a group fitness class, and this type of session may require a different insurance plan.
Never make the mistake of automatically assuming what a personal trainer’s insurance policy includes. Understand all the covered items and exclusions. To do otherwise would be to take a huge risk.
Take Loss Prevention Seriously
No matter how much insurance is purchased, always practice loss control and prevention. In other words, cut down on the chances of injury by embodying smart and safe training techniques. Learn from near misses, and never cut any corners when it comes to safety.
Are there hazards or risks in the gym or another environment in which you teach? Maybe it would be best to move elsewhere. Insurance helps, but personal trainers need to do their part in order to keep from requesting that help.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I have insurance prior to beginning my training career?
If you are planning on training clients in any capacity, it is a good idea to be insured to protect yourself from any legal troubles that may arise.
Do I need insurance if I am employed by a gym?
It depends. Some gyms will provide insurance to all of their employees; however, be sure to check with your gym to find out the capacity of their insurance plan. For example, some may cover product liability but not personal injury liability.
Where can I get insurance?
Your overall needs will determine what kind of insurance you should get and from whom. With that being said, some certifying agencies like ACE provide liability insurance to fitness individuals.
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