Weighing the Liability Risk

The fitness industry is vulnerable to all kinds of liability claims. From a dropped dumbbell to a fall off a treadmill or a health emergency, the risks are fairly extensive. Even if you have no control over someone’s actions, it’s easy to get drawn into a lawsuit. 

In addition to personal injury claims from falls, slips, or equipment misuse, fitness centers face additional exposure when patrons work out with a personal trainer. Other distinct risks come into play as health clubs evolve, including a growing emergence of specialty gyms and unstaffed 24-hour clubs.

As a fitness club owner, you can minimize risk with some proactive measures like these:

  • Review your general liability coverage with an agent. 
  • Require professional liability policies for all independently contracted trainers.
  • Secure hold harmless agreements and liability waivers from all club members. 
  • Provide regular safety training for staff, as well as safety incentives to encourage vigilance.

One other key way you can help ensure safety and reduce claims: keep the club clean and maintained. Be diligent with your maintenance records and enlist staff in keeping the facility tidy and organized. Encourage club members to wipe down equipment after use and report maintenance concerns. 

Insuring health clubs requires customized policies because of the unique nature of niche clubs. Insurance provisions may be streamlined for focused class facilities, such as yoga or barre studios, versus more comprehensive family fitness facilities. 

Be sure to tell your agent about all the products and services your club provides, including child care, nutritional supplements, massage, and other professional consultations. And, if you engage in off-site training, contact your insurance agent to make sure your liability extends off premises. 

Niche Fitness Gyms: Fit for Liability

Yoga studios, CrossFit gyms, martial art centers, climbing clubs…there are all kinds of niche workout facilities today, catering to one fitness specialty or another. For some, these facilities become more than a place to work out. They become a kind of community space—a place for people with shared interests to come together in support of healthy, whole lifestyles.

That’s why safety is an important issue for every gym user. One underinsured accident could lead to the closure of a favorite destination. Gym owners, of course, share the largest burden of responsibility, but gym members have their part to play too. 

Gym Owners
As a small business owner, your role is to be proactive, rather than reactive, when it comes to minimizing risks. You have a duty of care to keep the equipment and facility safe, clean, and free of dangerous obstacles. 

What’s more, you must alert users to potential risks and foreseeable injuries. Does the floor get slippery during workouts? Are users swinging weights in a crowded space? Warn users of any known dangers, and remind participants to respect their own limitations.

Gym Members
Always stay aware of your surroundings and work out responsibly. If you injure someone at the gym, through risky or careless behavior, you could find yourself the target of a lawsuit. Look around you. Ensure you have adequate space for whatever exercise you’re performing and adhere to all gym safety rules. 

If you’re new to a facility, spend some time familiarizing yourself with the gym and its routine activity. In one Florida CrossFit gym, for example, a member was injured after being startled by the sudden, loud noise of free weights hitting the floor. It’s possible that better awareness of gym norms could have helped prevent that accident. 

Take part in gym safety, for the benefit of all members. Report broken or faulty equipment and facility maintenance issues. Put gear away where it belongs and generally keep an eye out for member welfare. Enlist help from gym staff if another member is misusing equipment and/or causing a potential risk to others. 

Taking an active interest in gym safety protects those around you and helps ensure your fitness facility will continue to be available as a place to sweat, strive, and socialize. 

SECURA honors 2016’s top agencies

SECURA recognized six insurance agencies for outstanding business performance during 2016. These agencies represent the best in profitability, growth, and loss history with SECURA. We awarded the agencies this week at a ceremony held during our annual Premier Agent Professional Development Conference.

Ansay & Associates, LLC, took the highest honor as our top-performing agency. This four-time award winner from Port Washington, Wis., has been a SECURA partner for 31 years. Mike Ansay and Tom Schaetz accepted the award from Dave Gross, President & CEO.

Other agencies recognized for top performance were:
  • Indianhead Insurance Agency, Inc., from Eau Claire, Wis. This 11-time award winner has been a SECURA partner for 38 years. Bruce Freeland and Craig Jameson accepted the award.
  • Four-time award winner North Risk Partners, LLC, from St. Cloud, Minn. Chris Meidt and Barry Quernemoen accepted the award for the agency, which has been a SECURA partner for 23 years.
  • Friedman Insurance Inc. of Dubuque, Iowa. A partner for 21 years, this is the agency’s first award. Terry Friedman accepted the honor.
  • Thorncreek Insurance Services of Springfield, Ill. Also a first-time award winner, Thorncreek has been a SECURA partner for five years. Troy Alexander accepted the award.
  • Insurance Station of Iowa took the Rookie Award Winner. Jared Vincent accepted the award from the agency that has been a SECURA partner for seven years.
It is our privilege to honor these outstanding agencies for their hard work and dedication to SECURA. Congratulations!