As trainers, we'd much rather spend our time investigating the latest core stabilization exercises than we would drudging our way through the ins and outs of insurance. But those of us who are serious about our careers and want to protect the personal assets we've worked hard (or will work hard) to build know that
liability insurance is absolutely essential. 

So PFP decided to bring you a quick and easy primer on insurance -- the why, when and how much. Spend five minutes perusing the Q&A below and you’ll walk away knowing how to protect yourself and maybe even save some money at the same time!

SHELBY MURPHY, Editor of PFP:
Q: Do all trainers need liability insurance?
MARK BECK, Vice President of K&K Insurance Group: Yes, if they are training clients, they should have liability insurance to protect them from claims/lawsuits alleging bodily injury, property damage, libel slander, etc. How they obtain this coverage may depend on the trainer’s specific employment scenarios. 
Briefly, here is what each situation demands:
Business owners: Any individual operating a business should include liability insurance as part of their business plan. Coverage should extend to both the business as well as the individual owner if he/she is a trainer. This is particularly true if the individual owns or leases a facility to operate a studio. A specific policy to cover the business and premises is usually required.
Personal trainers: All trainers should consider purchasing a liability plan to cover all their training activities.
Independent contractors: Coverage is usually required by the facilities the instructor is working at as an independent contractor (receiving a 1099 tax form); most health club insurance policies do not extend coverage to independent contractors. Instructor coverage is designed to cover the individual only and follows them whereever they may work as an instructor.
Employees: If the trainer is employed (receiving W-2 tax form) by a health club or training studio, their policy will likely extend to the employee activities only while working on their behalf. The trainer should
buy coverage for themselves  IF there is any chance they may want to work on their own outside of their work for the health club. The club's policy won't cover an employee doing work outside of his or her duties
on behalf of the health club.

Q: What should trainers beware of when buying their liability insurance?
MARK: First, coverage varies from carrier to carrier, and the trainer should always review coverages carefully when choosing insurance; the lowest price may not provide the same coverage as another carrier. In addition to basic commercial general liability coverage, some providers include specific coverage for legal liability to participants as well as professional liability, which protects against claims of "wrongful acts" and "errors & omissions."

Also, realize that cheaper isn’t always better. Many low cost policies aren't a bargain anymore when you total up the additional service charges for things such as additional certificates or adding "additional insureds" to the policy. Extra charges can be as much as $25 to $50 per certificate. This can add up quickly if instructor works for several health clubs or facilities.

Q: How much liability insurance is adequate for most trainers?
MARK: A limit of $1,000,000 per occurrence is most often purchased and is the most common limit required by facilities. Be wary of purchasing a $500,000 limit. The instructor will most likely have to increase it if he or she works at a facility/health club. Higher occurrence limits may be available if necessary. 

The general aggregate limit on many policies is $2,000,000; however, some insurers, including K&K, offer a $3,000,000 general aggregate. The general aggregate limit means that amount is the most a policy will pay
for multiple occurrences.

Q: What should trainers look for when they are comparing policies and prices?
MARK: Trainers should look for policies that don’t have any deductibles. Also, trainers should seek out carriers that have a good financial rating (A.M. Best Company) of at least A-, A or A+. Coverage from an insurance company that is "admitted" in a state is best, which means that the state provides some protection in case of carrier insolvency. Guard against shopping on price only.

Q: What insider tips can you give trainers when they are buying insurance?
MARK: Using your proper name for the Named Insured on the insurance application is important so that coverage is there when you need it. Since the policy is designed to cover the individual instructor only, using
full legal name is important. If the trainer also has a business entity name/trade name, you should have it added as the DBA (Doing Business As) on the policy; however, the business will be covered with respect to the actions/ operation of the individual instructor.

If the instructor has a business and they have other instructors working with them as independent contractors, EACH instructor should purchase their own policy.

If the instructor has a business and employs other instructors (W-2 employees), they should discuss with the insurance company to determine if another type of policy to cover the business properly is needed. Most likely it will be. Same thing if the insured owns a facility... coverage for premises is needed and will require a different type of policy.

If the instructor doesn't own a commercial facility but provides training in his or her home (designated space), their homeowners policy will most likely exclude coverage under a "business pursuits" exclusion. An individual instructor policy may not cover a home studio either; a studio/facility policy may be required for 
proper coverage.

Adding "additional insureds" to a policy is a common request. This covers trainers who work in a variety of locations. Consider adding "additional insureds" to cover off -site locations for boot camps and other programs you do away from your primary training location.

Some programs (including K&K) offer discounts if the instructor is certified. Discounts are also available with some companies if you buy a two year policy.

Q: Where should trainers look for insurance?
MARK: Buying online is now more common and convenient, and some websites generate the certificate of coverage immediately when paying with credit card. Instructors can also contact a local insurance agent. 

Mark Beck is a Vice President for K&K Insurance Group. Contact K&K at www.FitnessInsurance-kk.com or 800.506.4856

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