What would happen if someone were to get hurt in your class tomorrow?
It could be something as simple as a student slipping on a sweat soaked floor and twisting their knee, as they were climbing off at the end of class.
One moment everything is fine. It was a great class, the cool down music is playing and everyone is getting ready to stretch... then everything goes to s**t!
The next moment you have a student yelling in pain, her knee twisted at a very odd angle. Blood is running down their jersey from the gash in their head - she had struck the frame of the bike next to her, as she went down.
What's your personal liability if this happened in your class?
Or someone has an accident on the road during a group ride you are leading?
Are you covered by the club's or studio's insurance?
Does your club or studio even have insurance?
Do you know for sure?
September is back to school month and that means that Amy starts her weekly Pilates class at a local Catholic School. She's looking forward to seeing all of her student's again after the Summer break. But before she can teach her first class she needs to give the school administer a certificate of liability insurance, specifically naming Saint Huberts Community School as an additional insured. If you're curious about what this certificate looks like, you can see one here.
The school asks for a copy from Amy each year for a bunch of reasons; they want to be sure she really has coverage, it will be in force for the duration of the school year and the policy has acceptably high limits.
I'm not an insurance expert, but my understanding is that the reason for wanting to listed as an additional insured is to prevent disputes between Amy's insurance company and the school's. Being listed as an additional insured protects the school in the case where the school's insurance refuses to pay a claim, because Amy isn't an employee.
"Oh sure, we have insurance", is right up there with "the checks in the mail". I spent a lot of years selling and renting construction equipment and could tell you stories about contractors who insisted they have coverage, only to find out that the policy had lapsed two years ago and wasn't renewed. More often than not they thought they had insurance that covered rental equipment... when they didn't. Quite a few didn't have any insurance at all, which is why we always insisted on seeing a certificate of liability insurance that listed my company as an additional insured, before any equipment left the yard.
It's easy not to pay your insurance premiums. Companies struggling financially are famous for not keeping up their insurance. I'm aware of a studio who hasn't been paying their instructors (not any mentioned here) and it's an easy bet they aren't maintaining their insurance coverage either.
So what would happen if someone got hurt in your class, but there was no insurance policy in effect to cover the claim? It's hard to say exactly... but rest assured it could be a nightmare for you and your family.
With no insurance company to file a claim against for medical bills and lost earnings, the injured student hires a lawyer on contingency. They agree to split any settlement 70% for them and 30% for the attorney. Next the attorney starts looking for any "deep pockets", anyone involved with assets that she can sue. That would be the studio owner and, unfortunately, you.
After a few years of depositions and court appearances (where you are accused of negligence), you may get off easy, only spending thousands of dollars in legal fees.
Or you could loose most of everything you own 🙁
Protect yourself and your family - do this ASAP:
- Confirm with your club or studio that you are, or are not covered by their insurance.
- Ask to see a copy of the current policy.
- I wouldn't be afraid to ask to be listed as an additional insured, especially if you teach at a small studio or are leading group rides outside the studio.
- Call your homeowner's insurance agent to understand what liability coverage you have and get their advice if you have enough. Be sure to tell them exactly what activities you are involved in and if you are paid.
- Act on the information - raise your limits, purchase an Instructor policy or consider adding an umbrella policy on top of your homeowners.
The policy we bought from trainerinsurance.com for Amy was only $175 for $1,000,000 of coverage. If you are an IDEA member they also offer discounted insurance - but I think it's the same $175.
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Originally posted 2012-09-01 14:56:12.
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Excellent post, John.
I’m always astounded at how complacent folk can be where personal liability insurance is concerned. Whenever there’s been a discussion on any of the fitness boards I’ve used, there’s always someone tries to the notion with a comment such as “In all my years of teaching, I’ve never seen……” ……which, if you think about it, is EXACTLY the sort of “Never heard of THAT” comment a class member would make when they’re pedalling towards a personal injury lawsuit and you draw attention to the fact!!
For the very modest cost, it’s a no-braner
I’m astounded at the complacency of these self appointed IC experts, self appointed “Master Instructors” that do not reinforce basic fundamental exercise science as is in most of our initial Certifications. Choosing to pursue the adoration of fitness enthusiasts as a measure of success. Being open minded cannot supersede SAFE EFFECTIVE body mechanics. Enabling the misapplication of unsafe movements when certification teaches not to, IMO is beyond negligent. IMO is malicious intent to do bodily harm.
The Fitness Industry is unregulated. You do not need continuing education, period.