You did it. You got the last certification necessary to be a self-employed personal trainer in your state. (Congratulations!)
But, you’re hoping to train clients at three different gyms, and all three gyms require you to have one more thing before you walk in the doors: insurance. What insurance do you need? Why do you need it? Are there additional policies that you should have that aren’t required? Let’s break it down.
The Insurance Most Personal Trainer Facilities Require
Most gyms or training facilities that you’ll work in (as an independent contractor) will require you to carry a Professional Liability policy, also sometimes called Errors & Omissions (E&O) insurance. They want you to have insurance because it reduces their risk of being sued, plain and simple. But having insurance is also an important step in protecting yourself.
In general terms, professional liability protects you from lawsuits about your professional services. There are countless details involved in a professional liability policy, but the protection you should have can roughly be broken down into five basic categories:
- Damage to Premises: If you, or a client you are instructing, somehow damages the area that you are using for training, the owner of that space could sue you. This protection covers the cost to repair such damages.
- Professional/Premises Liability: If a client is hurt, either by attempting to follow your instructions or due to a dangerous training environment, the client can sue you. This coverage will pay for the costs of legal defense and settlement in those cases.
- Products Liability: Manufacturers can be blamed for selling faulty products, but if you instruct a client to use a product that ends up being faulty or otherwise hurts them, you can be sued as well. This protection covers your legal costs in those situations.
- Medical Costs: If you are sued by a client and part of the settlement includes paying the medical cost of their injuries, your professional liability should cover these costs as well as your standard legal fees.
- Sexual Abuse Liability: Insurance cannot protect you should you commit a crime, but if a client falsely accuses you of sexual abuse, harassment, or molestation, this coverage will cover the cost of your legal defense.
What Happens if You Get Hurt?
You’re probably most worried about a client being injured. But anyone in a physically taxing profession like personal training needs to think about what would happen if they themselves were injured and couldn’t work. Do you have enough money in the bank to survive until you heal? Do you have other skills you can fall back on to replace the lost income? Essentially, you have to know how many eggs you have in the “personal trainer basket,” so to speak.
If the answer is, “a lot of eggs,” then Disability Insurance is probably a wise investment for you. If you are injured and cannot work, a personal disability insurance policy can cover your lost income and keep you afloat financially. How expensive this insurance is depends on how much protection you want (how much money you receive if injured, what kinds of injuries count as “disabling,” etc.). Talk to an insurance agent or broker about your risk of injury, and how long an injury might keep you out of work.
Being self-employed provides unmatched freedom, but also forces you to take on a lot of risk. If you do get sued and your insurance won’t (or can’t) cover the costs, your personal assets (like your home, savings accounts, etc.) could be a risk. You can protect yourself from this by registering your solo-operation as a Limited Liability Company, or LLC. If this option is available to you, it may be a worthwhile way to protect your personal assets from lawsuits regarding your professional services.
Talk to an expert today about getting insured as a personal trainer.