This is an excerpt from Walking Solution, The by Lee Scott & Michele Stanten.
Insure Your Business
As safe as walking can be as an activity, if you are organizing or leading walking programs, insurance is necessary. While it is common to develop positive relationships with clients and be lulled into a sense of complacency that they would never sue you, the reality is that they could. If a client believes they were injured from walking, they could file a lawsuit against you. Even if you require walkers to fill out health questionnaires and sign waivers, these documents will not protect you against litigation. If sued successfully, your personal assets may be at risk of loss, depending on your business tax classification. Even if it's not successful, fighting a lawsuit is expensive unless you have insurance. There are a few types of insurance to investigate.
- Professional liability insurance, also known as malpractice insurance, protects walking coaches from a client's claim that they were injured as a direct result of coaching advice. Suggesting that a client walk 10 hill repeats twice a week may work well for thousands of clients, but one may experience back pain from a workout and take you to court over it. Moreover, if you plan to hold your walking programs under the auspices of a gym, club, workplace, or other organization, they may demand to see proof of your professional liability insurance. Ask your insurer if they provide a certificate of insurance (COI).
- General liability insurance protects you from property damage and personal injury due to accidents that happen while you are leading a walking group, but they are unrelated to your advice. The likelihood of property damage during walking classes is low, especially if programs are held outside. However, personal injury may happen, for example, if someone trips, whether inside or outside.
- Product liability insurance may be a good idea if you use any products, such as elastic resistance bands, during walk circuit classes and this is not covered in your general liability insurance. Product liability insurance protects you against any claims arising from injury related to equipment failure.
- Personal liability insurance protects against claims from a third party who may be adversely affected by an injury to one of your clients from advice that you gave.
- Sexual misconduct liability insurance is a good idea for any person working intimately with others. While you may feel that your own conduct makes this unnecessary, especially in outdoor group settings, it remains an excellent protection in case a client's interpretation of events differs from your own. If you have coaches who lead walking workouts on your behalf, ensure that they are covered, too.
- Disability insurance for yourself as a personal trainer or fitness leader dependent on your walking or fitness program for income. This is important when your monthly bills depend on your coaching revenue and you can no longer coach because you are injured.
There are literally hundreds of companies that offer insurance to personal trainers. Check for discounts through such fitness certification organizations as ACE, NASM, ACSM, and NSCA. Some plans offer monthly payment options; however, you may be able to get a price reduction by paying annually. Before making your final purchase on insurance, check for any exclusions. For example, make sure that if you have a substitute coach who does not have a fitness certification, they are covered in event of an accident. Verify that you are covered in all outdoor environments, including on all outdoor roads, trails, sidewalks, intersections, and parking lots—both public and private spaces. If you train virtually, make sure that you are covered. If you teach a yoga pose in walking class, ensure you are covered for that!
Finally, if anything changes in your walking program or business, check back with your insurance provider. This includes any changes to number of classes, number of participants, location, coaches, and equipment used.