The Hidden Risks of Owning a Gym
Article courtesy of Trusted Choice.
You might not think of runners as potential heart attack victims, but it happens. Cardiovascular activity has proven benefits, but in some rare cases, that increased heart activity can cause cardiac arrest. That’s what happened at a west Texas Gold’s Gym in December 2008 – a member was running on a treadmill, had a heart attack, and wasn’t able to be resuscitated by staff or paramedics. His family sued the gym, claiming that staff did not provide cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) for the man, and that the defibrillator (AED) located in the gym had dead batteries and was ineffective. Even though some of these charges were thrown out in court, Gold’s Gym representatives still had to settle with the family.
Gyms, fitness centers and health clubs focus on keeping people strong and healthy. If you run a workout facility, you know that when people are involved in intense physical activity, sometimes things can go wrong. Someone gets injured while using the equipment, or pulls a hamstring while working with a trainer. Or a child gets hurt in your childcare facility. All these incidents can leave you wide open to liability claims and lawsuits, but a gym insurance policy can protect you and your facility.
Sports and Fitness Injuries
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) offers the following statistics on injuries stemming from sports, recreation and exercise (SRE):
- More than 10,000 people are treated in emergency rooms for SRE-related injuries every day in the U.S.
- In a given year, an estimated 1.5 million people are treated in emergency rooms for injuries from playing basketball and field sports.
Active seniors account for a startling number of SRE injuries, with more than 53,000 such injuries occurring annually.
Health Club and Fitness Center Risks
- Injury: Even with signed waivers, a gym is at risk if a member is injured on the premises.
- Equipment: Keeping equipment in proper working order is a necessity, as you can be held liable for faulty equipment that causes an injury.
- Trainers: Highly qualified and well-trained staff and trainers can minimize your exposure to liabilities resulting from improper use of your fitness equipment.
What Does Gym Insurance Cover?
Gym insurance is a unique combination of insurance coverages that are relevant for gyms, fitness centers, or health clubs. The specific coverage types and amounts you will need for your facility will depend on factors such as the size of the facility, the services offered and the number of employees.
A typical fitness insurance program consist of several coverage types, including:
- Gym liability insurance: Your gym liability insurance will need to include several categories of liability risks you may face, such as:
- General liability: Covers bodily injury and property damage your fitness center may responsible for.
- Professional liability: Covers risks due to “errors and omissions” by staff members. For example, in the case of a health club or fitness center, advice regarding an exercise regimen that leads in a client’s illness or injury would be covered by professional liability insurance.
- Product liability: Covers your risks related to selling products such as workout equipment and nutritional products.
- Employees practices liability insurance: Covers the risk of the gym or fitness center, as an employer, in the event that your facility is accused of poor practices, sexual harassment or discrimination regarding hiring, firing and employee discipline.
- Property coverage: Covers damage to your gym facility from causes such as fire, severe weather and vandalism.
- Equipment coverage: This can be a separate policy, but is more often a rider or endorsement attached to another business insurance policy that covers breakdown of your equipment.
- Workers compensation: Covers work-related injuries or illnesses your employees may experience on the job, and covers some portion of lost wages.
You may need additional coverage, depending upon the nature of the services provided at your workout facility or health club, so be sure to work with a knowledgeable insurance agent who can help you to identify all of your risks and create a tailored plan that meets your needs and budget.
Supplemental Gym Liability Insurance
Insurance for fitness centers, martial arts studios and health clubs must be tailored to the facility, the types of services provided and the risks of the business. Here are some additional coverage types you may need to consider:
- Participant liability and accidental medical coverage: Covers you if boxers or martial arts participants are injured in sponsored tournaments or supervised competitions.
- Participant liability insurance protects you from liability claims as a result of the injury.
- Accidental medical insurance provides medical care for the injured participant. The policy may also cover travel to and from competitions or events.
- Spectator liability coverage: If you hold spectator events such as tennis tournaments, this protects you if spectators are injured or have their personal property damaged during events.
- Supplemental liability insurance: You may need additional supplemental liability coverage if your gym, fitness center, or health club offers services like tanning beds or rock climbing walls. Here are some of the special liability exposures you can protect yourself against:
- Swimming pools
- Hot tubs and saunas
- Rock climbing walls
- Day spa services
- Tanning services
- Skin care services
- Umbrella liability: This type of policy provides excess liability coverage in the event of a catastrophic event that results in a large liability lawsuit. It kicks in when your other liability policies are exhausted. Business umbrella policies, sold in increments of $1 million of additional coverage, can provide excellent protection against large legal claims at an affordable rate.
Regardless of the type of gym or health club you run, you need coverage that specifically matches your unique risks and concerns. An independent agent who specializes in business insurance can help to assess your risks and get the right coverage plan in place.
Does a Business Owners Policy Cover Fitness Center Insurance?
If you have a small fitness center, you may be able to start with a business owners policy, or “BOP,” which combines certain coverages for you at a cost savings.
A BOP typically covers:
- General liability insurance: This portion of the policy covers your risks of bodily injury and property damage to visitors and gym members.
- Property insurance: This insures your business property, including buildings, facilities and building contents. This normally includes damage to your facility by events like fires or vandalism.
- Loss of business income coverage: This covers your revenue and operation costs if your gym is shut down for a period of time due to a covered event. Typically, you receive net income and operation expenses during the closure.
You may need to add additional endorsements to cover various other risks, such as equipment coverage for your weight machines and other fitness equipment and professional liability insurance to cover the services of personal trainers and other staff members. However, a BOP can be an excellent starting place for small fitness centers and health clubs.
Specialized Gym Insurance: Boxing, Martial Arts and More
While some gyms offer the usual exercise fare – free weights and various muscle toning and aerobic workout equipment – other facilities focus on a specific contact sport, such as boxing and martial arts studios. Many of these facilities offer a venue and training for particularly high impact sports, which come with specific risks.
If you run a boxing gym, kickboxing gym or martial arts gym, you will need specialized boxing gym insurance or combative sports insurance to protect you from the liability risks involved in these sports. These types of policies can provide additional accident medical coverage for participants, as well as spectator liability coverage for sponsored competitions and tournaments.
Gyms and facilities that need coverage geared to combative and high impact contact sports include:
- Boxing gyms
- Wrestling gyms
- Kick boxing gyms
- Martial arts studios offering judo, tae kwon do and karate
- Facilities that sponsor events and tournaments
The right gym insurance can protect promoters, employees and volunteers from bodily injury liability claims, as well as property damage claims during events.
Managing Your Fitness Center Insurance Costs
One of the first questions new gym owners ask is “how much is gym insurance?” And of course the answer is that it depends upon many factors, including the type of gym or fitness center you run. Your specific gym insurance costs will depend on the specific liabilities you have to cover, as well as the coverage limits you choose.