Professional Liability Insurance protects your sports and fitness business from claims of negligence or failures in your professional work.
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Trainers, instructors, and many other professionals in the sports and fitness industry use their expertise to provide advice and guidance for their clients. With high physical expectations and an even higher risk of injury, clients may feel dissatisfied with the results of your services or suffer from injuries due to poor instruction. Consider Professional Liability Insurance to financially protect yourself and your business from claims against your advice, instruction, and services.
What is Professional Liability Insurance?
Professional Liability Insurance (also known as Errors and Omissions Insurance) protects individuals and companies from the costs of lawsuits and damages related to their professional advice and services. A dissatisfied client may file a lawsuit against you for work errors, inaccurate advice, or negligence. This is where Professional Liability Insurance comes into play.
Although general liability insurance covers third-party bodily injury, property damage, personal injury, and advertising injury, other forms of coverage are needed to protect yourself and your business from claims that fall outside of these coverage areas. Professional Liability Insurance fills an important coverage gap by protecting your business against lawsuits for any damages your client experiences due to mistakes, inaccuracies, or perceived failures in your work.
- One of your gym employees is assigned to a client for a one-on-one training session. During the workout, your employee fails to correct the client’s bad exercise form. He also does not notice that the client has strained a muscle during the workout and continues to push the client through a repetition. The client suffers an injury and needs medical attention. He ends up filing a lawsuit against your business for negligence. Your Professional Liability Insurance would cover the legal expenses associated with this incident.
Why do sports and fitness professionals need Professional Liability Insurance?
Professional Liability Insurance is critical in the sports and fitness industry because professionals are often tasked with pushing clients and students to their physical limits in order to reach fitness goals. Errors in your fitness instruction, exercise advice that leads to injury, and recommendations of flawed nutritional plans can all lead to costly lawsuits. Even if you’ve done nothing wrong, defending against a professional liability lawsuit can put a severe strain on your finances.
Sports and fitness businesses often require clients to sign a liability waiver. While this may decrease liability, it cannot prevent all lawsuits or remove all liability—especially for claims of negligence. As such, it is crucial for businesses in the sports and fitness industry to purchase Professional Liability Insurance.
- One of your yoga students complains of back pain, so you suggest a series of stretches that have helped others in the past. Your student goes on to file a lawsuit against you claiming that your advice further aggravated her back issues. Professional Liability Insurance would cover you in this situation.
What does Professional Liability Insurance cover?
Professional Liability Insurance can protect you and your business against a number of claims. In the sports and fitness industry some of the most common claims result from:
Professional Errors and Oversights
- During a Crossfit session, you ask your client to do as many box jumps as they can within the span of 10 minutes. Forgetting that your client recently injured himself, you push him to complete the set despite his protests. Your client discovers that he has re-injured his muscle during the high-intensity workout, and he claims that it was your improper instruction that caused his injury. Your insurer would cover the legal fees resulting from this lawsuit.
- As part of her fitness plan, you instruct your client to take supplements to assist with her workouts. The supplements have a dangerous interaction with her doctor-prescribed medication. The client requires medical attention and files a claim against you for your nutritional advice. Your insurer would cover you in this situation.
Actual or Alleged Negligence
- You create a workout plan for one of your clients, and the plan includes exercises like squats and lunges, which are typically hard on the knees. Your client follows your plan and ends up severely injuring his knees. You later find out that he had a long history of knee injuries. He sues you, alleging negligence in your training plan. Professional Liability Insurance would cover this lawsuit.
Failure to Do What Was Promised
- As a personal fitness trainer, you create a diet and fitness plan for one of your clients, and the plan includes a target weight loss of 10 pounds within 10 weeks. When the client does not reach her target weight loss goal in time, she sues you for failure to deliver promised results. Your Professional Liability Insurance policy could help pay for the resulting legal fees.
Are injuries covered by Professional Liability Insurance?
If a third party (who is not an employee) suffers a bodily injury while on your business premises or in the course of your business operations, costs related to the injury would be covered by commercial general liability insurance. However, injuries specifically caused by your instruction or advice are excluded from general liability insurance. If you are sued because of your professional advice or services, Professional Liability Insurance would cover your legal fees.
- A patron of your gym trips on some weights that were laying around on the floor and injures his wrist. Because this injury is not related to your advice or instruction, Professional Liability Insurance would not be applicable in this incident. Instead, general liability insurance would cover the medical and legal expenses if he decides to sue.
- You are instructing a new yoga class at a senior citizen center. Up until this point, you have only instructed younger students and have not properly adjusted your poses for elderly students. One of your elderly students claims that your instruction aggravated his hip injury. This professional error claim would be covered by Professional Liability Insurance.
What are the key exclusions to Professional Liability Insurance coverage?
There are a number of common exclusions in Professional Liability coverage. Some of the exclusions related to the sports and fitness industry include:
- Bodily injury. If a third party who is not an employee suffers a bodily injury while on your business premises or in the course of your business operations, commercial general liability insurance would cover expenses related to the injury. This exclusion does not pertain to injuries caused by your instruction or advice, which would fall within Professional Liability Insurance coverage.
- Example: You have just finished mopping your dance studio, but one of your patrons does not see the wet floor sign. She slips and breaks her arm trying to catch herself. Expenses would be covered by commercial general liability insurance, not Professional Liability coverage.
- Property damage. Third-party physical property damage is also covered by commercial general liability insurance and not Professional Liability Insurance.
- Personal and advertising injury. General liability insurance covers claims of slander, libel, publications that violate privacy, copyright infringement, false arrest, wrongful eviction, and malicious prosecution.
- Intentional, dishonest, or malicious acts. Any error or omission done purposefully or with ill intent would not be covered under Professional Liability Insurance.
- Illegal acts. Instances of criminal or illegal activity would not be protected under Professional Liability Insurance.
Professional Liability Insurance is written on a claims-made basis. Unlike occurrence policies, claims-made policies only offer coverage if the claim is made while the insurance policy is active. Without an active policy, you will not be covered for incidents even if the incident occurred when your policy was active. Alternatively, if your claims-made policy is active, you are covered for past incidents even if they occurred before you purchased the policy.
- Your fitness studio had a Professional Liability Policy active from 2017 to 2019, and the policy was written on a claims-made basis. A client files a claim against one of your fitness instructors in 2020 because he did not hit the target weight goal even after a year of personal instruction. Although the majority of his sessions occurred during 2019, your insurer will not provide coverage because the claim was made after the policy lapsed.
How much does Professional Liability Insurance cost?
AdvisorSmith found that the average cost of Professional Liability Insurance for sports and fitness businesses is $716 per year. This average is based upon sports and fitness businesses with under $500,000 in revenue, with limits of $1 million and a $2,500 deductible.
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 Professional Liability Insurance:
|Provider||Professional Liability||Business Owner's Policy||Cyber Liability||General Liability|
Even with the best of intentions for your clients, mistakes and oversights are bound to happen. Professionals in the sports and fitness industry are constantly relied on to give advice and instruction, making it imperative to purchase Professional Liability Insurance. Make sure you protect yourself from the financial consequences of claims against your professional advice and services.