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Why Do I Need Personal Trainer Liability Insurance?

Personal training is an exciting career path. Whether you are just embarking on this journey or are an established personal trainer with years of experience, it’s always exhilarating realizing that you are helping people achieve their health and fitness goals. After all, that’s why you got into this business in the first place, right?

More and more former athletes and those with a passion for health and fitness choose to become personal trainers because let’s face it, it’s a business that is hard not to be excited about. With low barriers to entry, limitless income opportunities and the ability to set your own hours and choose your clients this business model is attractive, to say the least.

Unfortunately, one of the most significant drawbacks of the industry is the high chance of lawsuits. Working with many different customers on a daily basis, the risk of someone feeling you have not done your job is high. This is where personal trainer liability insurance comes to the rescue!

The risk is compounded by the seriousness of allegations that can be brought against you. You are dealing with health and fitness here. Failure to correct form during exercise, setting up the equipment in a wrong way or pushing your client too hard can result in serious injuries, health ramifications and in severe cases a stroke or death.

So, what do you do?

As the title of this blog post suggests, we will talk about personal trainer professional insurance and why you need it. Beware: the insurance policy will not help you avoid making mistakes, nor will it reduce the likelihood of a lawsuit.

However, what it will do, is protect you from the financial fallout of the lawsuit. If the worst were to happen, then an adequately written insurance policy will help offset the financial burden of the lawsuit.

Your customer could –

–    get injured due to not having a proper form on the exercise machine

–    get injured attempting an exercise routine that is too difficult in light of their medical condition

–    get injured by misusing equipment (and you failing to correct them)

–    suffer a stroke due to overexertion

It’s important to note that your exposures as a personal trainer do not end with a faulty exercise routine or customer’s allergy reaction. There are many things which and could go wrong during a session.

Working with a multitude of personalities, your customers might also sue you for –

–    unlawful medical information disclosure (HIPAA)

–    damage to customer’s property (especially important if you train at someone’s house)

Sometimes you will make mistakes (you are only human after all) and sometimes the client will insist on finishing the routine despite alarming symptoms. If anything happens, you can still get sued, with the customer alleging negligence on your part in failing to stop them.

In any case, the result is often the same – you, the personal trainer, getting sued for causing or contributing to your client’s injuries.

We’ll shed some light on what is typically included in a personal trainer professional liability insurance policy, explain what to look for when purchasing the policy and most of importantly illustrate why you need such a policy with real-life claim examples.

 

Why do I need a professional liability insurance policy?

We briefly touched on the answer to this question above – the reason why you would get a personal trainer professional insurance policy is to protect yourself from the financial downfall a lawsuit may cause.

You might be thinking – what about waivers? After all, most fitness clubs make their members sign a liability waiver releasing the gym and the trainers from any liability. The problem is that waivers work best as a deterrent measure. This means that if someone signed a waiver, they might decide not to sue since they feel that they already signed away that right. However, if the case goes to trial, every state has different laws about waivers. A judge can also choose to disregard the waiver based on a legal precedent or the gravity of the allegation.

Depending on the state the waiver might not save you from a trial.

Let’s take a look at a few claim examples:

 Honeycutt v. Meridian Sports Club, 2014[1]

A beginner student in a kickboxing class was having trouble executing a roundhouse kick. The class instructor, an experienced martial arts instructor and a certified personal trainer, was helping Ms. Honeycutt to execute the kick when her knee got injured. The student brought a lawsuit against the gym and the trainer alleging gross negligence. The waiver signed by the student was considered and accepted by the court, and the case was thrown out.

Even though the personal trainer won the case, it still cost him (or rather his insurance company) a pretty penny in attorney fees, court fees, and the cost to investigate the case.

With an average lawyer charging between $200-$400 per hour, the total cost was undoubtedly in tens of thousands at least.

Family of Anne Marie Capati v. Crunch Fitness [2]

Anne Marie Capati was a member of Crunch Fitness and has hired one of their personal trainers. The personal trainer instructed Ms. Capati to take nutritional supplements to enhance her workout results. The problem was that Ms. Capati was on a doctor prescribed medication. This medication interacted with the supplements which caused her death. The family sued both the trainer and the fitness club. Ultimately, the case went to trial, and the jury has awarded $1.4M to the family.

Suzan Butler v. Planet Fitness[3]

Suzan Butler, a 62-year-old Planet Fitness member, sued her personal trainer after sustaining severe injuries during an exercise routine. The trainer and the client were performing exercises on a Bosu Ball, which is an inflatable ball attached to a platform. The trainer had directed his client to stand on the platform, the inflatable ball part on the ground. As a result, the defendant lost balance, was catapulted into the air and fell on her right-side sustaining hip and wrist fractures. Both parties went to mediation before a judge and settled for $750,000.

As you can see from the above examples, lawsuits are costly. Whether or not the case is thrown out or you are deemed guilty of negligence, all the costs associated with proving your case and fighting in the court of law can be financially draining.

This is the one of the main reasons personal trainers purchase a personal trainer professional liability insurance policy. You will get the peace of mind that if something like this were to happen, then you and everything you worked so hard to build is protected.

Now that we (hopefully) convinced you that a professional liability policy is a must for any personal trainer, let’s take a look in depth at the coverages the policy typically provides.

 

What is personal trainer professional liability?

Personal trainer professional liability policy’s primary goal is to provide coverage for lawsuits that allege professional negligence.

As a certified personal trainer, you are expected to possess a certain degree of knowledge that your customers do not have. You are also held to a certain degree of professional standards. A professional liability policy will respond to a lawsuit that alleges you did not do that.

The policy covers the following

–    court fees

–    attorney fees

–    fees to investigate the claim

–    cost of any settlements or judgments against you

Even if the complaint against you results in a nuisance lawsuit, the cost to defend you is still covered. You do not have to be found guilty to receive the policy’s coverage.

It’s important to note that the policy will cover you up to a specified limit, for example, $1,000,000.

Below is the list of additional coverages that are typically provided (consult your particular policy or quote to verify if you have these coverages)

–    libel or slander

–    business interruption, i.e., the lost wages or income for attending mediation or trial

–    licensing board investigation

 

Difference between general liability and professional liability insurance

A common mistake many of our clients make is assuming that a general liability policy covers them for professional acts. This kind of assumption is what gets you in hot water down the line and leaves you completely unprotected in a case of malpractice (or professional liability) claim.

A general liability insurance policy excludes any acts done in your professional capacity as a personal trainer.

 

Wouldn’t I be covered by the insurance of the gym I work in?

It’s tempting to rely on your employer’s insurance to help you out of sticky situations. After all, their insurance should cover you too, right?

Not exactly. There is a possibility of their policy extending coverage to you; however, it warrants a discussion with your employer.

Training clients outside of the club – Any professional policy the fitness club has will only extend coverage to activities at the club and on behalf of the club. It means that if you book a client outside of the gym that you work for and train them independently – you won’t have any coverage for this exposure through the gym’s policy. In business, especially if you are just starting out, it’s important always to be ready to take on new clients. You can’t do that if you do not have your own separate insurance policy.

Individual coverage – When an attorney prepares a lawsuit, they often name the personal trainer in the complaint along with the gym. Depending on how it is written, a professional liability policy might not provide coverage for you individually. This means that if you are individually named in the lawsuit, you will be responsible for the cost of the attorney, legal fees and a share of the settlement. Can you imagine how costly it could get?

These two issues warrant a serious discussion with your employer; otherwise, you might be looking at hundreds of thousands of dollars in unforeseen expenses.

At BizInsure you can identify your coverage needs as well as receive personal trainer professional liability instant quotes.

 

What is not covered?

There are a few scenarios that a professional liability policy won’t cover. Some exposures will be covered under other policies (employee injuries are covered under workers compensation policy; employment disputes under employment practices liability policy).

Certain exposures such as intentional or illegal acts are not covered under any policy.

– Intentional wrongdoing

– Illegal act

– General liabilities

– Employee injuries

– Employment disputes.

– False advertising

– Property damage

 

How much does personal trainer liability insurance cost?

The cost of the professional liability policy depends on a few factors. These factors include your age, location, experience and any advance certifications. Other factors that affect the premium are the policy limits and any deductibles.

Personal trainer liability insurance cost typically starts from $400 a month.

 

Conclusion

We hope that this blog post shed some light on how important a professional liability policy is for a personal trainer.

Whether you are working for a gym or striking out on your own, it’s essential to protect yourself and your financial stability.

BizInsure can provide you with instant quotes as well as human support on the other side of the screen (or the phone!). Click here to complete a short online form to receive your quotes instantly.


[1] Cotten, D (2015). Casues of Personal Trainer Lawsuits – Part II. [online] Sports Waiver. Available at: https://www.sportwaiver.com/causes-of-personal-trainer-lawsuits-2/[Accessed 05.08.2018].

[2] Leagle, (2002). Capati v. Crunch Fitness International Inc. [online] Available at: https://www.leagle.com/decision/2002476295ad2d1811360 [Accessed 05.08.2018].

[3] Schoenfeld,S (2015). 62-year-old awarded $750,000 in suit against Branford gym. [online] Available at: https://fox61.com/2015/03/20/62-year-old-awarded-750000-in-suit-against-branford-gym/ [Accessed 05.08.2018]

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