As a fitness instructor, you've probably seen your fair share of injuries. And while most students shake off a minor bump or bruise, a serious injury may cause them to seek compensation. Just ask Maria Kouts. According to a report in Property Casualty 360, the Zumba fitness instructor was sued by a student who suffered a stroke during her class at a fitness club.
The lawsuit might not have been a problem if she had fitness instructor insurance. But Kouts, who wasn't a paid employee, filed the claim on her home insurance policy. Unfortunately, her insurance company denied it on the grounds that the policy excludes coverage for business activities.
Her insurer may have denied the claim even if the injury had occurred in Kouts' home. Let's take a look at why that is and how fitness instructor insurance can help if a client sues.
Why You Need Fitness Instructor Insurance to Cover Lawsuits over Student Injuries
Homeowner's insurance typically covers damage to your property and your liability for other's damaged property and injuries people experience at your home. For example, say a delivery person trips on your walkway and breaks their wrist. Your homeowner's policy most likely covers the cost of their medical bills and your legal expenses if they sue.
However, if that same delivery person has the same accident while carrying exercise equipment for your business, your home policy may not cover the claim. That's because business owners face different types of risk. One of the big ones? They're more likely to be sued. As a result, insurance companies created different personal and small business insurance policies.
Your personal insurance is seldom the appropriate protection for the risks you take on as a business owner. Moreover, even informal business activities can require commercial insurance. Someone who only teaches a class or two or who is paid in free classes is usually considered a business owner and typically needs fitness instructor insurance for lawsuit protection.
For more pointers on how to prep for business ownership, read "3 Biggest Challenges to Running a Successful Personal Training Business."
How Fitness Instructors Can Protect Themselves from Lawsuits
Getting fitness instructor insurance minimizes the chance of you paying for student injuries and lawsuits out of pocket. In Kouts' case, Professional Liability Insurance might have helped, Also known as Malpractice Insurance, it typically covers claims your that fitness instruction caused a student's injury. The policy may pay for legal expenses, such as…
- Attorney fees.
- Court costs.
- Expert witness testimony.
- Any judgments against you.
Another way to protect yourself from a lawsuit is to reduce the likelihood of student injuries. This might include:
- Providing an overview of the class.
- Asking students about their health concerns.
- Instructing students on how to use proper technique.
- Offering modifications for different abilities.
You may also want to ask students to sign waivers if you teach particularly intense workout classes. A signed waiver may not stop a lawsuit, but it can at least demonstrate that the student was aware of the risks.
Be sure to read "New Year's Resolution Injuries at Your Gym? Try General Liability Insurance" for more tips on how to reduce your risks.