Whether you train clients full time at a gym or in their homes, or just dabble a few hours a week in your garage, you cannot afford to be caught in a lawsuit without adequate insurance coverage. Not only will a lawsuit drain your bank account, but it can destroy your career. And no matter how much your clients love you, if they are seriously injured, or worse yet, die, they or their loved ones will not hesitate to bring a lawsuit against you.
A good insurance policy will cover:
- attorney defense fees
- bodily injury coverage
- medical payments
- client’s loss of earnings
- other miscellaneous expenses
What Type of Insurance Do I Need?
Depending on your employment status and location, there are different types of insurance to cover your needs:
- General Liability: General liability insurance covers you against third party claims such as bodily injury, personal injury and property damage. This is the absolute minimum insurance you should carry. However, it may not cover scenarios where your judgement comes into question, as in whether you conducted yourself as a prudent professional.
- Professional Liability: Sometimes called malpractice insurance, professional liability covers you for a broader spectrum of scenarios, including errors or omissions. For example, you may have failed to instruct your client on how to safely secure the leg press, or how to operate the treadmill, and it results in an injury. Or you recommended a nutritional supplement and your client becomes ill or dies. Professional Liability insurance should cover your legal defense, and any award made to the client, up to the limit of your coverage.
- Premises Liability: Premises liability may or may not be covered under a General Liability policy. If you are training in a gym or studio as an independent contractor, you may not be covered under the business’s policy. If you are training in your home or the homes of your clients, you will need premises liability for whatever might go wrong while training on the premises.
- Disability Insurance: This one’s for you! As trainers, we work long hours, lift tons of weight, demonstrate dozens of exercises and push ourselves to our limits, day in and day out. If you become injured as an independent contractor, or even as an employee, disability insurance can help cover your living expenses and care for your family while your recover.
- Other Types of Coverage: In addition to the above, you may need coverage for assault (upon you), defamation or slander, first aid, medical costs, sexual misconduct, HIPAA violation, loss of earnings, and others.
Even if you have general liability insurance, or if you are covered by your employer, there is no guarantee that all scenarios will be covered under the policy, or that the amount of coverage will be enough. Before you purchase an insurance policy, speak to a qualified agent about the scope of policy coverage, and the amount of coverage you need for your particular situation.
Whether you are employed by a gym or studio, or you work as an independent contractor, it is important to understand your legal rights and obligations as a fitness professional. W.I.T.S. has a number of online courses that detail the legal issues surrounding our industry. Certified Personal Trainer, Fitness Management and Older Adult Fitness Specialist are all certification programs that provide insight into the legal side of things. Continuing education courses that may be useful include Club Management: Human Resources and Staffing. Do not wait until you are faced with a legal situation to learn about your rights, responsibilities and liability under the law.