The world of personal training and fitness insurance may seem intimidating, when you start thinking about the implications. Sure, you know you need to get some, but the medical and legal terms, let alone the risks involved in training, are enough to make you sweat more than your HIIT workouts!
You are well aware that one tiny mishap that you didn’t have covered could cost you your entire business. You’re also probably aware that claims can be made if someone gets injured during a workout or from faulty equipment. In fact, these claims make up the majority of claims against personal trainers.
But did you also know you can be sued because of something you advised or didn’t advise your client to do? If you give a client some nutrition advice and it results in an allergic reaction, you could be held responsible. It might not seem fair, but it’s just another reason to make sure you’re properly covered.
Having a sound personal training insurance policy in place is going to pay you back in dividends for your peace of mind alone, if nothing else (and we are all hoping for “nothing else”). For around $10 a month, that’s a no-brainer for peace of mind around the risk in such a physically demanding industry.
To help you wrap your mind around personal training insurance, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide for everything you need to know to get started.
Keep in mind that this article is not written by someone in the insurance or legal industry, so always consult with your own insurance agent or attorney about the subjects of insurance and liability.
Personal Training Insurance Protects You From Litigation
We probably don’t have to tell you why it’s a good idea to have insurance. The medical costs for even minor injuries is staggering, and we live in a rather litigious world, so it’s always prudent to make sure you’re properly covered.
To get a clearer picture about why you should carry proper coverage, consider this: If someone were to simply sprain an ankle in your gym or suffer a concussion during training, the resulting bills could add up rapidly. Think of the cost of MRI’s, CT’s, multiple doctor’s visits, physical therapy, and lost work. Even just for a minor injury, this could get costly.
If something worse than a minor injury were to happen, you could risk losing your entire business and everything you own if you’re not properly covered. Not only monetarily and emotionally devastating, injuries could also leave your reputation in ruin.
Personal training carries risks for its physically demanding nature. It affects the body, and anything that affects the body carries inevitable risk for injuries. Add heavy equipment to that equation, and you bump up the risk even more. No matter how successful of a trainer you are, how many liability waivers you have people sign, or how “nice” your clients are, you still can’t be sure that you’re never going to find yourself facing litigation.
Types Of Insurance For Personal Trainers
In this section, we’ll help familiarize you with the types of insurance coverage that you can carry as a personal trainer. Most companies that insure personal trainers provide packages that cover multiple of these at once.
For around $10-15 per month, the standard coverage for liability insurance is $1,000,000 per incident. Professional and premises liability insurance packages typically cover bodily injury, personal injury, and property damage. This coverage protects you if you were to give a client faulty advice that resulted in an injury, if a client fell on your wet gym floor and sustained an injury, or much much worse. You are only held liable if you are found at fault in court.
Sexual Abuse Insurance
Usually packaged together with liability insurance, sexual abuse insurance typically covers around $100K per incident. Any profession involving the body could be vulnerable to sexual abuse claims. It doesn’t matter what a personal trainer’s intentions are either. It only matters how the client perceived the situation. If you are falsely accused of sexual abuse, this type of insurance will cover the legal fees involved. If you are actually guilty though, the insurance coverage would not apply, of course.
Product Liability Insurance
This type of insurance covers injury from products your clients use when you’re training them. Coverage typically includes up to $1M per case. This type of insurance would provide coverage if, for example, a faulty weight bench crashed to the floor and caused a back injury.
Aside from coverage for your business, you should also consider purchasing disability insurance and health insurance for yourself. Disability insurance provides income in case you become injured and can’t work for awhile. It’s inexpensive and invaluable if you end up needing it. If you’re self-employed, you will want to find health insurance to cover your own medical bills as well.
Additional insurance is required for other things such as your vehicle if you transport clients. So be sure to discuss your particular business with your insurance agent to find out what insurance makes sense for your business.
Types Of Claims
While you’re trying to decide the type of coverage you will need as a personal trainer, it helps to understand what kinds of claims could be made against a personal trainer.
The types of insurance claims that personal trainers may be susceptible to are:
Bodily injury: Bodily injury is the most common type of claim that personal trainers face because it’s the most obvious and pervasive. Bodily injury is defined as any physical damage that occurs to the body. Bodily injuries that result in medical bills, loss of work, etc could leave you vulnerable to a lawsuit.
Personal injury: Personal injury is defined as injury caused by accident or by another person’s lack of reasonable care. Personal injury claims may also the result of libel, slander suits or invasion of privacy. Even just “failure to instruct” by not telling a client how to do an exercise properly could leave you in big trouble. If a client doesn’t tell you about a preexisting back condition and your workout tweaks their back, you could also be in trouble.
Cyber liability: The online world poses a whole other level of legal concerns, particularly as it pertains to privacy laws. Accidentally posting a picture with a client in the background that they didn’t authorize could lead to a lawsuit.
Advertising liability: Accidentally infringing on the trademark of another brand could also leave you susceptible to infringement lawsuits. Typically, a cease and desist order would be presented before any legal steps would be pursued, so you’d be given a chance to stop using the trademark.
Sexual abuse: Sexual abuse claims often happen when someone misinterprets a conversation or action, whether it was intentional or not. It doesn’t matter if there weren’t any sexual intentions involved. It only matters how the other person interprets your actions.
Product liability: Product liability is your liability for damages caused by any product that your clients use in your care, whether you are the manufacturer or not. If a supplement causes a heart attack or a broken barbell falls and breaks someone’s foot, you could find yourself in a legal situation.
Pick The Right Insurance Based On Where You Work
The type of coverage you need often changes, depending on your work setting. Many corporate gyms provide insurance that covers all their trainers. However, their insurance might not cover a trainer if a claim is made against a trainer personally. You’ll need to ask your gym and insurance provider questions to uncover what’s covered and what isn’t so they can supply any supplemental insurance that you might need. You might want to get yourself professional liability coverage no matter what, even if your gym covers you.
If you are an independent contractor through the gym, or if you train any clients outside of the gym, you will need to purchase your own professional liability insurance separately. In fact, we recommend that you carry your own professional liability insurance no matter where you work.
If you train clients at their homes, you may want to clarify with your insurance agency what will be covered. Generally speaking, if a client stumbles over a yoga mat on the floor in their own home, on their own time, you wouldn’t be liable. However, if they injure their knee while doing tuck jumps during a training session in their home, you could be held liable. You’ll want to make sure you’re properly covered in the event of any kind of injury.
If you transition your training environment at any time, make sure you notify your insurance agent so they can recommend any insurance adjustments for you. For example, if you’re transitioning from a rented studio space to clients’ homes, you may need to adjust the type of coverage you have.
In addition to your physical training setting, your geographical location will affect what kinds of insurance are required, how much it costs, and what it covers. A local insurance agent should be able to clear up any questions you have about that.
Your Level Of Coverage Depends On Multiple Business Factors
Your chosen level of coverage is really going to depend on you, the type of business you own, the intensity of training you do, the riskiness of the populations you train, your level of risk aversion, and the advice of your insurance agent and/or attorney.
From looking at the insurance that’s available from some of the major insurance companies, coverage typically starts at $1M for the basic liability plans (which is the common level of coverage) and goes up from there. Umbrella plans may also be available.
Check What Kind Of Insurance Your Personal Training Certification Agency Provides
A simple Google search for personal trainer insurance is enough to overwhelm even the most level-headed among us. It’s impossible to tell just by searching online which companies will provide the most acceptable coverage.
The first thing we would advise you to do is check what kind of insurance your personal training certification agency provides. If you are a member of any sports or group fitness agencies, you can also check there. Many personal training insurance providers provide discounted insurance through their partnerships with insurance companies, so you might end up saving money this way!
For example, Insureyourclub.com offers discounted insurance for NASM, AFAA, ACE, NCSF, NFPT, and NCCA certified personal trainers. For $1M liability coverage, the cost is $172 per year. The IDEA Health and Fitness Association offers personal trainers liability insurance through Philadelphia Insurance Companies.
After you’ve checked to see what kinds of insurance your certifying agency offers, you could check with your home and auto insurance provider to see if they provide professional liability insurance for personal trainers. Some of the big insurance companies, such as Geico and Nationwide, provide insurance for personal trainers. Packaging all your insurance together may also carry a discount.
Once you’ve narrowed your search, you can check the rating of any insurance companies you’re considering in the A.M. Best Company or the Standard & Poor’s databases. Make sure you only go with the best of the best.
Even though this article focuses primarily on professional liability insurance, you may also be wondering about your own personal health insurance. Although health insurance can be difficult to navigate, one place to start the search is at GetInsured.
Other Legal Precautions You Can Take
Finding the right liability insurance is just one precaution you can take against lawsuits. You can also protect yourself from the moment your clients sign a contract with liability waivers and health questionnaires. Even before that, you can make sure your personal assets are protected with a proper LLC business designation.
Let’s explore some of the steps you can take to protect your personal training business:
First, you’ll want to make sure that you have a liability waiver produced or reviewed by an attorney to make sure you’ve covered everything and the wording is sound. Then, you want to make sure that every client you work with signs the liability waiver.
While liability waivers won’t protect you in all circumstances, they will certainly release liability to a certain degree and deter clients from pursuing lawsuits that aren’t the result of clear negligence. It’s just one piece of armor that you can put on your business to shield it from legal action.
There are many nuances involved in whether or not a waiver will hold up in court, so having legal counsel for your waiver is strongly advised.
Next, you’ll want to make sure that every client fills out a health questionnaire. Having a clear idea about a client’s current health, past injuries, medications and predispositions will help you to gauge risk and design a customized program for them.
You may even want to include questions about whether or not your clients are okay with you touching them to correct their form or not to help avoid misinterpretation of touch. You can see now why these intake forms are so pertinent, right?
Another factor to take into considerations is how to register your business. If you are self-employed, you might want to consider doing business as an LLC. Registering your business as an LLC will protect your personal assets in the event of a lawsuit. On the other hand, a sole proprietor could be sued for everything they own.
Another legal precaution you can take is to keep superior records. You should always keep your training plans on file and take detailed client notes. You can use cloud-based personal training software to keep all your records safe and organized. That way, if you ever find yourself in a legal situation, you can produce accurate files.
And finally, it’s pertinent to practice common sense in your business. Make sure to follow the proper protocol for advancing your clients. Never make your client work out beyond their capacities. Always inspect your equipment and provide proper maintenance to ensure it’s in good condition. Don’t provide nutritional or medical advice if you’re not qualified to do so, and refer your clients to the proper professionals. If a client’s health questionnaire has any red flags, always get a physician’s consent from your clients before training them. And always make sure you perform proper client assessments before training new clients. These prudent actions will help prevent injury in the first place.
Taking all of these precautions will help prevent your business from ever having to appear before a judge.
Questions To Ask Your Insurance Provider
Once you’ve found an insurance provider that you’re happy with, you might still have some questions to ensure you get the proper coverage. Aside from the standard questions about cost and terms, you might want to know:
Is this a Claims Made or Occurrence Based policy?
Claims Made policies will only protect you from claims that are made while you’re insured. Occurrence Based policies will protect you if the incident happened while you were covered, even if it’s reported while you’re no longer insured. Occurrence Based is the preferred kind of coverage.
How much coverage should I have?
Your particular business is going to determine what coverage is best. If you’re working with medical rehab patients, you might consider more coverage than lower-risk populations. Your insurance agent should be able to guide you to the proper coverage.
If I train online, how protected am I?
The rules of the internet tend to be different than the rules of live training. So make sure if you plan to train clients online that you ask your insurance agent questions about whether or not your coverage pertains to online training.
What kind of insurance do I need to get if I hire other trainers?
You may need to adjust your coverage if you have other trainers on your staff.
What’s the difference between general liability and professional liability?
The difference could be night and day if you ever find yourself in a legal situation. General liability only covers you against bodily injury, personal injury, or property damage and any legal fees associated with those. Professional liability covers all of those things as well as negligence. For example, if you were to tell a client to perform an exercise without giving them form cues and they injure themselves, you could be held liable.
Although we all hope that no legal troubles ever happen to us, we all know that we’re not immune and that having proper insurance in place will help ease everyone’s mind. You can’t control everything that happens with your clients. You can’t control everything that happens in your facility. And you certainly can’t control how people perceive certain incidents. But you sure can control how much you’ve done to protect yourself.
Insurance for personal trainers may seem like a tough subject, but we hope this article has provided you with enough information to make an informed choice. We recommend all personal trainers have the proper insurance in place before training their first client.