No doubt you are working as a professional in the fitness industry because you want to help people. And, to your credit, the job description of “Personal Trainer” has become a respected position. Clients, club owners and staff, as well as friends and family members ask you for advice concerning health and fitness issues. But since you are a “professional,” your words of wisdom are held to a higher standard. Sometimes, that can backfire. Let’s face it, you are working with a diverse set of people and personalities, and, well, stuff happens.
Here are some things to consider:
- Everything you say or do (or DON’T say or do) is a potential claim. Clients view YOU as the fitness professional, and rely on your advice and guidance to exercise properly, maintain proper form, and operate equipment safely and effectively. Any advice that you give, or fail to give (do you always instruct clients to utilize the safety cords on treadmills? Always? Every time?) can be the source of a potential claim.
- What if, unaware of a client’s pre-existing health condition, you recommend an exercise that results in a heart attack, seizure, or stroke for the individual? If a lawsuit ensued, could you afford to defend yourself or even pay out a large settlement? Probably not.
- People sue. Even if you do EVERYTHING right, the unfortunate reality is that, in today’s society, people sue.
- Health Clubs and Studios often will (and always should) require proof of insurance. Before starting work at a new facility, or training a new client off site, they should request proof of professional liability insurance coverage. Independent contractors may not be covered by the club’s policy. If the club carries liability insurance, it will certainly protect the club against any alleged liability. However, if you are an independent contractor and are named personally in a lawsuit, the club’s insurance may not cover you.
- Offering recommendations for fitness routines, nutritional programs or medical care, whether the advice is given to a paying client or an acquaintance, can expose a Personal Trainer to liability if the recipient claims that they were injured as a result of that advice.
- Are any of these potential claims worth losing your savings, your house or your car? What about your career and future or the future of your family? In the world that we all live in, it is necessary to carry Professional Liability Insurance if you hold yourself out as any kind of recognizable professional.
The good news is:
- Your own professional liability coverage, covering you wherever you train, is inexpensive “peace of mind.” Even if you are not at fault, your insurance company will pay to defend you against unfounded allegations of negligence or liability.
- Since most health clubs require proof of insurance, having a policy in place just makes it easier to quickly capitalize on new training opportunities.
- Professional Liability Insurance travels with you. Although many Fitness Professionals work primarily out of one location, the reality is that you could pick up a new client or a new job at any time. Good Professional Liability coverage is designed to cover you wherever you may train clients.