Why do Personal Trainers and Group Exercise Instructors need their own insurance coverage? I know it may sound like a simple question with a simple answer, but you would be surprised at how many certified personal trainers and group exercise instructors choose not to carry their own liability insurance protection. There are three main reasons why these individuals choose to go “bare”. Many part time instructors go without insurance protection because they feel that by teaching only a few classes a week, the cost to be insured doesn’t make sense. Trainers and Group X instructors who are working as “independent contractors” are also led to believe that they are covered under the liability insurance of the facilities they train at. Other instructors and trainers who are “employees” of a fitness center are comfortable knowing that they are covered by the club’s insurance policy. With any of these scenarios, the trainer or instructor may have liability protection; most do not.
In the case of the part time instructor, the decision to go without insurance coverage is purely financial. Why would a person who only makes $25 a class 4 days per week need insurance? The answer is simple…we live in the most litigious society in history. If just one person twists their ankle in class or gets hit in the eye with an exercise band, don’t think for a minute that you, as the instructor, won’t be named when the lawsuit is filed. The facility, the manufacturer of the exercise device, and the instructor will all be named in the complaint and will all have to provide their own separate defense. In the case where the instructor or trainer is not an employee of the club, the need for having their own policy is crucial. Regardless of fault, that instructor will be forced to hire an attorney to prepare a defense.
If the trainer or instructor is an independent contractor, having your own insurance policy is as important as keeping your certification status current; if not more so. As a certified trainer, group exercise instructor, or nutrition advisor, you are proclaiming to the world that you have considerable expertise in the areas of physical fitness, weight loss, nutrition/supplement advice and food management. In other words, you are holding yourself out as a professional in these areas and you have the credentials to prove it. Obtaining this level of education and experience is both a blessing and a curse.
The blessing; as a certified or degreed professional, you can charge a considerable fee for your services. The curse comes in to play if your client is injured during their session or becomes ill from a food supplement or nutrition advice you may have provided, your credentials have set your level of care to a higher degree. In other words, no one should EVER be injured while under the guidance of a “professional” trainer or instructor. Even if the client is injured through no fault of the trainer (which is generally the case), that trainer is now at risk of having to defend themselves should the client want to seek damages.
In the last scenario where the instructors and trainers are “employees” of a fitness facility, there usually is coverage in place to extend liability insurance protection to all employees. Unfortunately, these trainers and instructors have no way of knowing whether or not the owner of the facility has renewed their policy or may have purchased a standard liability insurance policy that does not contain a professional liability endorsement. In other words, these trainers and instructors are at the mercy of a third party (their boss) having the proper insurance in place to protect them. As I mentioned earlier, when someone files a lawsuit, ALL parties are going to be named. If that facility owner does not have the correct insurance coverage or worse yet, has no policy in force, the trainer will be placed in a position to hire their own attorney and may have to pay the claim out of their own pocket.
The bottom line here is that EVERY certified personal trainer, group exercise instructor, martial arts instructor, nutrition counselor, and dance teacher should have their OWN liability insurance coverage. At a cost of only $165 a year for $3,000,000 of protection, it is silly not to have your own insurance policy. For more information about liability insurance coverage for personal trainers and group exercise instructors, you can go to the W.I.T.S. web site at www.witseducation.com and click on the INSURANCE button. Also, for a copy of our latest recommended waiver form designed for trainers and instructors, please contact me at email@example.com.