More than most careers, protecting yourself against lawsuits is an essential part of being a personal trainer, whether that means you are a:
- Pilates instructor,
- Yoga Instructor,
- Martial Arts Instructor,
- Aquatic instructor, or,
- Fitness professional of any kind
Even if you do everything humanly possible to ensure the safety and well-being of your clients, accidents do happen, so it’s important to be prepared, and that means making sure you are sufficiently covered for a variety of potential mishaps that could result in legal action. Whether It’s negligence on the part of the client, or a matter of simple miscommunication, there are a number of ways injuries can occur, but there are also a number of policies designed to help reduce risk and avoid lawsuits that could significantly damage your reputation as a personal trainer.
First of all, do I need liability insurance if I work for a gym or fitness studio?
Many personal trainers who do not work independently assume that they are fully covered by their employer. While this may very well be the case, It’s entirely possible that this coverage is not adequate enough to fully protect you should an injury occur.
Ask Your Employer!
It is very important that you confirm the terms of your coverage with your employer
It’s entirely possible that you are not sufficiently covered by your employer’s insurance, and it may be wise to top up that coverage personally. This is especially true if you work for multiple establishments, or conduct sessions on the side for some extra cash. Remember, your employer’s policy will not cover you for any independent training you are providing to private clients on the side.
Do I need liability coverage if I am only doing training sessions online?
Many aspiring personal trainers know that it is a good idea to have some kind of general liability insurance policy for in person training sessions. After all, it is easy to imagine an incident occurring in which a client sustains an injury at the trainer’s gym or home. It could be as easy as slipping on the front stoop. Still, many are unaware of the importance of acquiring a professional liability policy as well, especially when they are conducting sessions online. After all, if the client is training in the safety of their own home, how could you possibly be liable for any injury sustained? Known as Errors and Omissions policies, professional liability coverage protects you from lawsuits derived from injuries sustained by a client after following your professional advice and instructions. What if you instruct a client to perform a certain exercise that results in chronic back pain, a broken ankle or a hamstring injury? Your professional career could be put in danger by what may seem to you to be a frivolous lawsuit, but which may arise nonetheless if your client’s own career is damaged by that injury. Simply put, professional liability coverage is imperative for your own peace of mind as you push your clients to ever higher levels of performance.
Does this apply to merely posting routines online as well?
Surprisingly, yes it does. Trainers who post their routines on platforms like Youtube leave themselves exposed to lawsuits from people they don’t even know who choose to follow the posted program. And while it would be very difficult to prove in a court of law that the injury sustained was a direct result of following your program, any lawsuit initiated against you could leave you paying legal fees out of pocket.
So How Much Coverage is Enough, and How Extensive a Policy Package Do I Need?
This is essential. It protects you from injuries sustained by a client as a result of an accident that occurs in your home or your gym. This is the type of policy anybody dealing with the public should have.
I work for a commercial gym…Wouldn’t my employer have me covered? Very likely, yes, your employer will have a general liability policy that covers both the gym and its employees. Still, it is important that you discuss the limitations of this policy with your employer to make sure the coverage is adequate enough to protect you personally. You may want to obtain your own policy, especially if you are working independently in order to make a little extra money on the side.
Professional Liability (Errors and Omissions)
This is far more important than many trainers realise. It protects you from lawsuits which come about from injuries clients may sustain while following your instructions, techniques and professional advice. This type of policy helps protect your career from being destroyed.
Again, I work for a commercial gym…Wouldn’t my employer have me covered? Once again, it is quite likely your employer will have some type of professional liability policy. Just make sure that you are fully covered under it. It may not be sufficient, and your personal protection might be limited, especially if you are also working independently.
Recommended liability coverage:
- General Liability (CGL): $2 million
- Professional Liability: $2 million
As a personal trainer, there are a few other policies you might want to think about getting, such as a Cyber Insurance that protects you from cyber attacks on your client’s data and credit card information, as well as Business Contents Insurance which covers damage to your business assets, such as computers and fitness machines. You can find information on a policy package designed for personal trainers here.
Do I need to be certified to get a professional liability policy?
In order to get the appropriate liability coverage in Ontario, and therefore be covered for all forms of injury and accidents, it is required that a personal trainer be certified.