A few weeks ago, Deadspin.com reported on a CrossFit athlete who was paralyzed after severing his spine during a competition in Southern California at the OC Throwdown.
A video of the accident, which is available on Deadspin.com, spurred a lot of “mis-information and speculation,” according to the OC Throwdown website, which prompted event officials to release an official statement regarding their liability:
“The OCT procured the proper liability insurance which is mandatory for this type of event. We had all necessary state, county, and engineering licenses in place.”
And it’s a good thing they did. When a tragic accident like this happens, people tend to want to point fingers and blame someone for the tragedy. Usually the person blamed ends up being whoever was in charge of the event.
The Benefits of General Liability Insurance
Perhaps more than many small business owners, fitness instructors, athletic trainers, and personal trainers are at a greater risk for General Liability Insurance claims simply because of the nature of the job. Exercise and physical exertion can lead to injuries – and if those injuries happen at your place of business, you could be found liable for them.
Remember, General Liability benefits include financial coverage for certain events, including those involving third-party…
- Bodily injury. These are any physical injuries your clients (and other non-employees) sustain while on your premises. While spinal cord injuries may be uncommon, other types of injuries – like sprains, hernias, tears, and broken bones – are not. Coverage can take care of costs like medical bills, ambulance rides, and legal expenses.
- Property damage. Let’s say that you are a personal trainer who visits clients’ homes to provide your services. If you accidently break a piece of a client’s exercise equipment, you could be held responsible for replacing it.
- Advertising injuries. These are non-physical injuries, such as copyright infringement, libel, and slander. For more information about advertising injury, check out our eBook Tweet or Twibel: The Small-Business Owner's Guide to Advertising Injury.
The above describes the kind of small business insurance fitness instructors and personal trainers need for everyday operations. But what if you’re planning a special event – a smaller-scale fitness competition like the OC Throwdown or a 5k fundraiser?
In that case, you may want to look into Special Events Insurance, a kind of temporary General Liability Insurance. This is likely the kind of insurance the OC Throwdown website was referencing in the quote.
And yes – sometimes, you may even be required by law or by your venue to carry Special Event coverage, just as the OCT was. (For more information on Special Event Insurance, read “How (and When) to Purchase Special Event Insurance” and “Special Event Insurance for Nonprofit Organizations” on our blog.)
How Commercial General Liability Insurance Works for Fitness Instructors and Personal Trainers
Now that you know how Commercial General Liability Insurance can benefit fitness instructors and personal trainers, you’re probably curious about how the coverage works – just in case a freak accident should befall your gym. Here’s what you need to know:
- Covered events. General Liability Insurance only helps you pay for the expenses relating to covered events like those we describe above. Some types of accidents, including employee violence, are not automatically covered by a GL policy. Others, including on-the-job employee injuries, are covered under a separate policy (e.g., Workers Compensation Insurance).
- The accident. Whenever something happens at your gym that you think might result in a claim, it’s best to contact your insurance agent right away. You should be ready to carefully describe the accident, including what happened, when and where it happened, and the names of any witnesses.
- The deductible. If a claim should be filed against your business – i.e., your client believes you should pay the medical bills – then you’ll need to pay your deductible before you can receive benefits. Your deductible is the amount of money you pay toward the claim before your insurance provider starts paying.
- Coverage limits. Your General Liability policy, like all insurance policies, comes with a coverage limit. This is the maximum your insurance provider can pay toward a General Liability claim. If you’re found liable for more money than your coverage can pay, you will be responsible for the covering the rest on your own. Alternately, you can Umbrella Liability Insurance now to supplement your existing GL policy limits.
For more business and insurance news about fitness instructors and personal trainers, check out “2014 Trends for Fitness Instructors and Trainers” on our blog.