Purchasing the right insurance coverage is as important to your business's financial health as exercise and eating right are to your physical health. While other activities may be more enjoyable, taking the time to understand the many insurance coverage options available to protect your personal fitness business from claims and lawsuits is an important step towards financial stability.

If you haven't taken the time to investigate insurance options for personal fitness professionals, you may be wondering if you need insurance at all. The simple answer is yes; if you are working with clients, you need insurance that will protect your business from claims and lawsuits. However, insurance coverage options can be complex and not all insurance programs are alike; it is very important to note any differences in coverages, what optional coverages are offered, and coverage limits when choosing your insurance. The lowest priced product may not include all of the insurance you need to be fully protected. Even if the coverage is comparable, low-cost policies are not a bargain when you consider service charges for certificates of insurance, or for adding "additional insureds" to the policy.

Extra charges can be as much as $25-$50 per certificate. This can add up quickly if the instructor works for several health clubs or facilities.

If you are working as an independent contractor at one or more health club facilities, don't assume that you are covered under the health club's insurance plan; independent contractors are often excluded. Fitness professionals should always have their own coverage as well as additional coverage for any studio or fitness facility.

Insurance Coverage Definitions
So what types of coverage should fitness professionals look for? Let's start with some basic coverage descriptions.

Commercial General Liability is coverage that protects the insured against liability claims for bodily injury and property damage arising out of premises, operations, products and completed operations and personal and advertising injury. This might include:
- Products-completed operations generally protects the business from claims related to the manufacture or sale of products to the public. It may cover the seller's liability for losses or injuries to a buyer, user or bystander caused by a defect or malfunction of the product.
- Personal and advertising injury covers an injury to a third-party brought about by the insured business advertising, its goods and services, usually by copyright or trademark infringement or due to libel, slander, or invasion of privacy.

Legal Liability to Participants protects against bodily injury liability claims brought by persons participating in fitness/exercise activities under the direction of the insured.

Professional Liability provides protection against wrongful acts (breach of duty, neglect, error, omission, misstatement or a misleading statement in the course of fitness/exercise activities) that occur under the operations of the insured.

Abuse, Molestation, Harassment, or Sexual Conduct Defense Cost Reimbursement reimburses the insured for defense costs with the policy limits resulting from claims out of abuse or molestation.

That may sound like a lot of legal language, but these basic coverages will protect fitness trainers from everyday actions that started out with the best of intentions, but ended up in injury or property damage.

What Limits do Personal Fitness Professionals Need?
A limit of $1 million per occurrence is the most common limit required by facilities, although some require higher limits. 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 limits may be available if necessary. The occurrence limit is the maximum amount the insurer will pay for each incident.

The general aggregate limit on many policies is $2 million; however some insurers offer a $3 million general aggregate. The general aggregate limit means that amount is the most a policy will pay for multiple occurrences. The general aggregate limit is the maximum amount the insurer will pay for all occurrences during the policy period.

Good coverage for fitness trainers that does not mandate deductibles is available in the market and is something trainers should look for.

Financially Sound Providers
The financial stability of your insurance company is very important; trainers should seek out carriers that have a good financial rating from 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.

Using your proper name for the Named Insured on the insurance application is important so coverage is in place when needed. Since the policy is designed to cover the individual instructor only, using the full legal name is important. If the trainer also has a business entity name/trade name, it should be 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 individual instructor should purchase their own policy.

If the instructor has a business and employs other instructors (W-2 employees) he or she should discuss the specifics with a licensed agent or insurance company representative to determine if another type of policy to cover the business properly is needed. If the fitness trainer owns a facility, a separate property coverage policy also is needed.

If the instructor doesn’t own a commercial facility but provides training in his or her home in a designated space, the homeowner's policy will most likely exclude coverage under a "business pursuits" exclusion. Instructors should be sure to check with their insurance agent before assuming coverage under the homeowner's policy. Again, a studio or other 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.

Check to see if your insurance provider offers discounts for fitness certification; some companies reward fitness professionals who have taken the time to participate in educational programs. Discounts may also be available for instructors who purchase two-year policies.

Getting Ready to Purchase
Purchasing coverage online from a reputable provider may be a quick option that is available at your convenience, 24 hours a day. Some websites are also able to generate the certificate of coverage immediately when paying with credit card, offering nearly instant coverage. If a fitness professional has any questions or concerns about the coverage needed for specific situations, always make sure to call your insurance representative for clarification.

Lorena Hatfield, Marketing Resources Manager for K&K Insurance Company, has over 25 years of experience in the insurance industry. K&K Insurance is celebrating 60 years in business, providing coverage for sports and recreational organizations and events. To learn more, visitwww.kandkinsurance.com.