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What Insurance Does a Personal Trainer Need?
Personal trainers have good income potential. That being said, part of this income might have to be used for a few business-related expenses.
For example, if you’re on your own, you need equipment for your training sessions. This may mean that you have to buy resistance bands or other items you can take to your clients’ homes. If your clients come to you to work out, more expensive exercise equipment may be necessary.
If you work for a gym or other exercise facility, there are still personal training costs to consider. Maybe you have to buy your own uniforms. In this case, you would have to set aside part of your personal training salary to cover this expense. Or perhaps they expect you to pay your own travel costs when visiting clients off-site. All these expenses become part of your budget.
But there is one more thing that you need when working in the fitness industry. It is insurance.
Why Insurance Is Important
It may be tempting to let insurance coverage slide. Especially if you’re starting out and trying to curb your costs. But lack of adequate insurance coverage could cost you more in the long run. Here are two prime examples.
In 2015, a woman sued her personal trainer after sustaining a neck injury. She had suffered an injury to this area before and was exercising to rehab it. Yet, a new injury occurred below the previous one and the damage sustained was permanent. This resulted in the woman experiencing pain and reduced range of motion. The court awarded in her favor, granting her $980,000.
And in February 2016, a Connecticut doctor filed a suit against his personal trainer. Why? He alleged that his trainer pushed him too hard, causing him to have a stroke. Although the jury did find the doctor partially at fault, they still awarded him $14.5 million in costs.
The question you need to ask yourself is: can you afford that type of payout? If your answer is no—which it is for most of us—insurance is a must. It helps protect you in the event that one of your clients files a claim for huge amounts. Which they can do, even if their injury wasn’t your fault.
Carrying insurance also enhances your credibility as a personal trainer. It tells your clients that you consider yourself a serious fitness professional. It also sets you apart from those who are also offering similar services but are not insured.
Share this information on your marketing materials to make it known. Talk about how you are both certified and insured. Reinforce this at your clients’ first training session. Help them see that you are the real deal.
What Insurance Does a Personal Trainer Need?
There is a wide variety of policies that offer protection to fitness trainers. Which ones are a must? There are two: liability insurance and disability insurance.
The main purpose of personal trainer liability insurance is to protect you against claims alleging that your clients were injured because of your advice or due to your exercise training regimen. It is also sometimes referred to as malpractice insurance.
There are two basic types of liability insurance available to personal trainers:
- General liability insurance. Some clients may allege that they suffered an injury during an exercise training session. General liability insurance covers this type of claim.
- Professional liability insurance. Some companies call these Errors and Omissions (E&O) policies. These professional liability insurance policies protect you if clients claim injury due to your negligence. They also cover injuries alleged to occur from following your advice.
If you work for a gym, personal trainer liability insurance may be part of your pay and benefits package. If it is, review the policy provided to see what type of coverage it offers. Depending on what it covers, you may decide to get your own liability insurance policy. This would provide added protection above and beyond what your employer offers.
The cost of professional liability insurance varies based on a few factors. For example, if you have a high exposure to potential claims, you’ll likely pay more. Insurance companies also look at whether anyone has filed a lawsuit against you in the past. This tells them about your risk should they insure you. It also helps determine how much coverage you need as a fitness professional.
One in ten fitness trainers and instructors are self-employed. If you fall into this category, disability insurance is a must. It can help protect you if you become hurt and unable to work. You might also have to buy your own disability insurance if you work for a business that doesn’t provide it.
Disability insurance helps you continue to pay your regular bills when you are off work due to an injury. This is critical if the injury is not covered by some other policy, such as auto accident insurance. These payments help you stay afloat until you can return to personal training again.
The two types of disability insurance are short and long-term. Generally speaking, short-term disability insurance provides payments for three to six months. Long-term disability insurance can last for years, if not the rest of your life.
Another difference between short and long-term disability is how much they pay. Policy Genius reports that most short-term plans will pay as much as 80 percent of your gross monthly income. With long-term disability, this number drops to 60 percent, though it is for a longer term.
Depending on your current financial situation, you may want one or both of these types of policies. If you live paycheck to paycheck, short-term disability provides peace of mind if you get hurt. If you have a decent amount in savings, you may wish to bypass this insurance because you’re able to cover those expenses.
If You Employ Other Personal Trainers or Fitness Professionals
What do you do if you’ve taken your business as a certified personal trainer to the next level? Specifically, what insurances do you need if you also employ other fitness professionals? There are a few to consider.
Workers’ Compensation Insurance
Laws regarding workers’ compensation insurance vary by state. For example, some states require you to carry workers’ comp even if have only one employee. Others don’t mandate this insurance unless you employ four or more.
To learn the regulations in your state, the National Federation of Independent Business offers a listing of each state’s workers’ compensation laws. Adhere to these guidelines to ensure your fitness business is providing the necessary coverage for your staff.
Employer’s Liability Insurance
When you purchase employer’s liability insurance, your personal trainer business is protected if one of your employees is off work and not covered by another insurance policy. It can be used for both illnesses and injuries.
Some insurance carriers will bundle your business liability insurance policy with a property damage policy. This is called a Business Owner’s Policy, or BOP. A BOP provides health club facilities, gyms, and other training facilities both coverages under the same policy number.
Product Liability Insurance
If your training business also sells products, product liability insurance offers additional protection. This policy helps protect you from lawsuits filed if you sell a defective item that causes personal injury or damage to your client’s property.
For example, maybe you sell resistance bands and one snaps in the middle of an exercise. Product liability insurance would protect you if they are injured and file a claim for medical treatment costs, lost wages, or even pain and suffering.
Every fitness business is different, so it is recommended that you always speak to your attorney to decide what insurances are needed to protect yourself. This ensures that you have adequate coverage for your specific situation and concerns.
Questions to Ask the Insurance Company Before Buying a Policy
Before you sign up for any insurance policy, there are a few questions you should ask the carrier to ensure it is the right policy for you. These questions are:
- What exactly does the policy cover?
- What does it not cover?
- How much coverage is provided? (What money amount?)
- How much does it cost?
- How are those costs paid? (Monthly? Annually?)
- Are there any additional costs I need to be aware of? (a.k.a. hidden costs or fees)
- What do I do if I have to file a claim?
- What does the claims process look like?
Any action you can take to reduce the risk of injury to your clients helps by reducing potential claims. This is where the ISSA’s Corrective Exercise Specialist Certification course comes in handy. This course teaches you how to correct physical dysfunctions that could increase your clients’ risk of injury. Check out the course today!
Corrective Exercise Specialist
The ISSA's Corrective Exercise Course will help you learn how to identify and correct the most common movement dysfunctions that you are likely to see in a wide range of clients, from the weekend warrior to the serious athlete. Both health care professionals and certified personal trainers can benefit from this distance education course, learning more about how people move incorrectly and how to guide them to correct those dysfunctions.
Please note: The information provided in this course is for general educational purposes only. The material is not a substitute for consultation with a healthcare provider regarding particular medical conditions and needs.