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Fitness instructors teach group classes and assist members at gyms, health centers, and fitness studios. Many fitness instructors work as independent contractors or own their own fitness businesses, and given the risks of the job, they may need to purchase their own business insurance. You could be held liable if a client is injured or someone else’s property is damaged; insurance can provide financial protection from these risks.
What insurance coverage do I need as a fitness instructor?
There are many types of insurance coverage to consider, but these policies are particularly relevant to fitness instructors:
Since serious injuries can occur as a result of working out, professional liability insurance is a key type of coverage for fitness instructors. If a fitness instructor suggests exercises that aren’t appropriate for a client’s abilities or pushes them beyond their limits and causes a physical injury or psychological trauma, the instructor could be held liable for damages. If you are sued because of your professional advice or services, professional liability insurance will cover your legal fees and any settlements or judgments against you.
If you contract with gyms or fitness centers, they may require you to have professional liability coverage before they allow you to teach classes at their facility. If you are an employee at a gym or fitness center, it’s important to make sure that the business carries professional liability insurance. If you hold your own classes or employ other fitness instructors, you’ll want to make sure you have sufficient professional liability coverage to protect against any client lawsuits.
Many fitness classes and gyms require users to sign a liability waiver. When they are compliant with state laws and created under legal advice, these waivers can decrease your liability in some situations; however, they cannot prevent all lawsuits or remove all liability, and they may not hold up in court, so it’s critical to have insurance policies to protect you.
- While teaching a fitness boot camp class, you push students to complete several difficult exercises. A student who is new to the class suffers an ACL tear. She sues you, alleging that you were negligent in instructing her to try exercises she wasn’t ready for. Your professional liability insurance would cover the lawsuit.
General liability insurance provides protection for incidents of accidental third-party property damage, bodily injury, personal injury, or advertising injury. Since fitness instructors are involved in rigorous physical activity with customers, this is an important coverage to consider as accidents can happen at any time.
If clients sustain an accidental injury while taking your fitness class, you could be held liable. There’s also a possibility that you could unintentionally damage someone else’s property, especially if you teach group classes at offices or other locations. If you accidentally damage the flooring at a studio space you are renting, you may be held liable for the damages.
In addition, general liability insurance’s personal and advertising injury component can cover third-party non-physical injuries and reputational damage from libel, slander, copyright infringement, and more.
Many instructors may believe that they would be covered by the insurance policy of the gym or fitness center they teach at, but this is not always the case. Although employees of a gym are likely covered by its general liability policy, it’s common for fitness instructors to work as independent contractors. Independent fitness instructors typically would not be covered by the policies of facilities where they teach.
It’s important to note that general liability insurance only covers accidental bodily injury, such as situations where a client slips and falls. If a client believes they have been injured because of negligent training or advice by their fitness instructor, you would need professional liability insurance to cover this claim. Some insurance companies offer fitness instructor liability policies that combine both types of coverage.
- Bodily injury: One of your students slips on spilled water at your pilates class, severely twisting her ankle. Your general liability insurance will cover medical costs and any legal fees if the student sues.
- Property damage: You rent studio space to teach a high-intensity interval training class. During one of your classes, a customer accidentally drops a heavy barbell onto the wood flooring, damaging the floor. Your general liability policy would cover the damages.
- Personal and advertising injury: You create a new ad for your Zumba classes. Photos used in the ad show a local celebrity who attended one of your classes. She sues for violation of privacy. Your insurer would cover the lawsuit.
If you own specialized exercise equipment or other valuable property that you take with you to fitness classes, you may want to consider inland marine insurance. Inland marine insurance provides financial protection for your business property that does not remain at a fixed location. This could include fitness equipment, tools, supplies, and other items that you may need to transport from location to location or store at various sites.
- You are driving to a park to set up an obstacle course class when another car collides with your van. The collision damages your obstacle course equipment. Inland marine insurance would cover the damages.
For smaller fitness businesses, a business owner’s policy (BOP) could help provide a wide range of coverage in a single convenient package. A business owner’s policy combines the major property and liability risks that small businesses face, including general liability, commercial property, business income, and extra expense coverage. Some insurers will also allow you to add professional liability coverage to your BOP.
This type of package can help you save on costs, as purchasing these coverages separately would likely result in higher total premiums. Business owner’s policies are typically only available for small and midsize businesses that meet certain requirements, including a cap on revenue and number of employees.
- Workers’ compensation insurance can cover employees’ medical costs and a portion of lost income if they suffer an injury or illness caused by their job. Most states legally require this coverage for companies with employees. Fitness instructors who work independently and do not have employees likely would not be required to have this coverage. However, if your business employs other fitness instructors, your state regulations may require you to secure adequate workers’ comp coverage.
- If you run your own fitness studio and own exercise equipment or other valuable property, it’s a good idea to protect its value with commercial property insurance. Equipment can be expensive and difficult to replace; commercial property insurance will provide funds to replace or repair your business property if it is destroyed or damaged. Commonly covered perils include windstorms, hail, fire, vandalism, and water damage.
- If you own or lease vehicles in your business’s name, commercial auto insurance is an important coverage to purchase. This insurance type can protect against liability and property damage in the event of a car crash, and it can also protect the value of your business vehicles.
Pricing and Quotes
Pricing for fitness instructor insurance will vary based on the type of insurance coverage and the risk profile of your business. Insurers consider factors such as:
- Business size
- Number of employees
- Claims history
Businesses with higher risks will have higher premiums than those deemed lower risk. For example, a fitness studio with a history of frequent claims will face higher premiums. Premiums also rise as you increase the limits of insurance. Different insurance companies have different models for rating risks, so it is worth comparing pricing across different insurers.
In order to get an accurate estimate on pricing, it’s best to get a quote from a reputable insurance company. Below we’ve highlighted a few of our trusted partners who offer coverage for fitness instructors:
|Provider||General Liability||Professional Liability||Business Owner's Policy|
Business Insurance and Coronavirus
COVID-19 has had a major impact on businesses in the fitness industry, as state orders have forced many businesses to temporarily close, or customers have been afraid to go back to exercising in groups due to the pandemic. Many business owners may be wondering how insurance can provide assistance during these unprecedented times.
It’s important to understand that you cannot purchase a new policy to cover coronavirus-related losses that have already occurred; insurance policies will not cover losses that have already been discovered.
For businesses that have business income or business interruption coverage, the losses you’ve suffered from having to temporarily cease business operations due to COVID-19 are, in most cases, not covered. These policies typically only cover losses caused by a direct physical loss or damage, like a fire or theft. Some business interruption policies will include coverage for losses caused by “communicable or infectious diseases,” but this is rare.
How workers’ compensation insurance handles coronavirus cases varies widely depending on the state. If you have employees who contract coronavirus on the job, they may be eligible for workers’ compensation payments in some states.
If your business continues operating and a client or other third party sues you claiming that they contracted coronavirus after visiting your business, some commercial general liability policies will provide coverage, depending on your individual policy and the laws of your state.
Consult our FAQ on coronavirus and business insurance for more information.
When you work as a fitness instructor, you could be held liable for student injuries and accidents. It’s important to consider purchasing insurance coverage that will protect you from these common risks. Many gyms and fitness studios will require you to have business insurance coverage before teaching at their facilities, and your insurance policies can provide financial support that will enable your business to continue operating even after a costly disaster or lawsuit.