Whether you own a fully-equipped gym or see personal training clients in their homes, having your own fitness business may be a dream come true. You get to do what you love, and you take pride in helping people reach their goals and lead happier, healthier lives. What could go wrong?
Like anything else, running a business comes with risks and rewards. In the case of a small business owner, one risk is that someone could get hurt as a result of a workout you recommended. Someone’s personal property could get damaged while they are in your facility. You could even be sued by a client who didn’t reach their fitness goals or failed to gain the health benefits they expected.
It’s important to remember that lawsuits can be costly even if you’ve done nothing wrong. For example, the legal costs associated with a lawsuit and time away from your business can be a personal and financial drain. Fortunately, you can protect your business against these risks with liability insurance.
Understanding the risk
Think it can’t happen to you? Consider these scenarios that could cost your business tens – or even hundreds – of thousands of dollars.
- One of your trainers is having lunch at the local juice bar with a friend. The discussion turns to one of your clients, a local business owner who happens to be somewhat difficult to work with. Your trainer exaggerates some of the client’s less attractive personality traits and the two have a good laugh about it. The conversation is overheard and it gets back to the client. They sue you for the return of their membership fees as well as what they perceive to be damage to their reputation.
- A new client neglects to disclose that they are taking medication for a heart condition when they sign up for your gym. The client is advised of his maximum heart rate but he regularly exceeds it in a misguided attempt to improve his results. One day, he has a heart attack shortly after his workout and sues you as a result.
In today’s litigious society, you can be sued for almost anything, even if you think you have taken all the necessary steps to prevent it. Even if you are found not to be at fault, you will still need to pay an attorney to advise and represent you.
Protect your business
You can protect your business from the financial consequence of a lawsuit with business liability insurance (sometimes called commercial liability insurance). There are several kinds of insurance, but the most common are general liability and professional liability.
General liability insurance protects your business from claims of property damage or bodily injury by a third party. If someone gets hurt at your gym, either while working out or by slipping in the locker room, you may be liable for the costs related to their injury. If a trainer drops a weight on a client’s new iPhone X, you may be liable for the replacement cost of the phone. These costs could be covered by a general liability policy.
Professional liability insurance, sometimes called E&O or errors and omissions coverage, is for charges that may be brought because you did something you shouldn’t have (an error) or you didn’t do something you should have (an omission). You could be sued even if you didn’t make a mistake, so you need professional liability insurance to protect your business.
Just as stretching before a workout protects your muscles, liability insurance protects your business against the risks you face every day. The right insurance will let you focus on running your business and helping your clients.
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