There are many low cost insurance options out there for fitness instructors and personal trainers such as those offered by the professional bodies and trade associations or directly by some online insurers. For an individual working as a freelance personal trainer within 3rd party premises these may well be the best option, however there can be many limitations to such insurance policies and as your business expands or changes you need to be aware of the implications to avoid an uninsured claim. These are some of the key areas to consider:
Taking on a premises – If you are operating a personal training studio or a gym, the risk for you and the insurer is very different to that of a personal trainer. Most claims in gyms arise from slips, trips and falls or faulty equipment. If you operate such a facility you need a policy which describes your business as a Gym, Personal Training Studio or whatever is relevant to the set-up but not just ‘fitness instructor or personal trainer’. Potential claims for slips, trips and falls are unlikely to be covered under the low cost instructor policies.
Employing Staff – If you are employing any staff, Employers Liability is a legal requirement irrespective of the number of employees or the hours which they may work. Please also note that even though trainers may not be on the payroll (i.e. PAYE) they may still be considered employees of the company
Setting up a limited company – This can impact insurances in various ways. Most importantly the policy needs to note the correct legal title. If you have a policy which is in your individual name, it will not cover you for claims brought against the company. It is most likely that a claimant will bring a claim against your company and not you as an individual. If the company has 2 or more directors, Employers Liability is also a legal requirement.
Using Freelance Instructors – If you run a training business and use freelance instructors to run sessions under your banner you are likely to be responsible for their actions, in what is known as Vicarious Liability. A policy for an individual instructor will not cover this risk and it could leave you exposed. You will also have a responsibility to check that the freelancers have valid Public Liability insurance covering the work that they are doing on your behalf.
Offering Wider or more unusual activities – Many policies can be restrictive on the activities. As mentioned already liability cover only operates for the business activities described on the policy schedule. Therefore if the business description is “fitness instructor”, it would be safe to assume that Pilates and Circuit Training are activities covered however running a residential boot camp or coaching swimming of young children may not be covered. You also need to be aware of activities that may be specifically excluded under policy endorsements which should be shown clearly on the schedule (be aware some insurers are clearer than others!). To avoid any doubt it is best to speak to the insurance provider, preferably a broker with specialist knowledge who will offer an “advised service”.
Increased Turnover – Although quite rare, some policies may have turnover limitations and once exceeded may mean that cover will not apply. If your turnover has grown considerably since setting up the insurance policy it is sensible in any case to review your arrangements.
Whilst insurance for fitness instructors and personal training studios may seem a minefield, it can be relatively straightforward if dealing with a provider who specialises in this area. At Independents, we have over 17 years experience in the health and fitness industry and have provided consultancy to REPS and UK Active amongst many others. We aim to provide a highly professional and friendly service whilst demystifying insurance and providing advice in a practical and jargon-free manner.