Information on Insurance for a Martial Arts School


Smart owners know that insurance is like self-defense for your school. You never know when you’re going to need it. But, when you do need insurance, nothing else will do.
– John Graden, Martial Arts Teachers’ Association




 We've been insuring martial arts clubs for over 30-years. We're proud to partner with John Graden and MATA. Like a 1 - 2 combo, MATA helps you grow your school and SFIC keeps you protected.
--Jennifer Urmston, Sports Fitness Insurance Corp (SFIC)



Martial Arts Insurance Articles

What does Martial Arts School Insurance Cost? +

The average premium for a martial arts school in Sports and Fitness Insurance Corporation is $1,028.28. This includes all of the limits available and any charges for after school programs or day camps.

Again, this is with all limits.

The average base annual General Liability premium is under $1,000 with additional charges if a school has after school programs or summer camps.

Martial Arts School New Year Insurance Checklist +

Ask yourself a few simple questions TODAY to protect your business in 2018!

Are you launching any NEW PROGRAMS in the New Year? YES__ NO__

Discuss new programs such as, Self-Defense Classes, After-School Programs or Day Camps with your insurance agent. If you have not offered the program in the past, make sure your current insurance will cover it!

Do you need to perform any EQUIPMENT Maintenance? YES__ NO__

Make sure all pads, safety gear and weapons equipment are in good condition. Keeping your school’s equipment is in top condition helps you look better to new prospective students and prevents insurance claims!

Is your location ready for WINTER WEATHER? YES__ NO__

Are you responsible for clearing ice and snow or is your landlord? If you don’t know the answer, ask now! Make sure your school, as well as, the sidewalk and parking lot are safe for your students in the winter weather.

When in the New Year does your INSURANCE renew? DATE________

Be ready for your insurance renewal! Review it 60 to 90 days ahead of time to make sure all of the information that you have provided to your insurance agent is accurate and up to date. Don’t get caught with a claim that you are not covered for by not communicating. In the New Year get a competitive quote if you have not done so recently. You might be able to get more coverage and save money.

Brought to you by Sports Fitness Insurance Corp (SFIC). SFIC is the Official Insurance Provider of the Martial Arts Teachers Association (MATA).

Get a year-end review of your insurance at MATAInsurance.com

Martial Arts Insurance: The Best Defense Is a Good Defense +

The best defense is having a good defense ready. If an attorney has to contact you to find out what happened in an accident eight months ago, and you are vague because you can’t quite remember, that won’t help your case much. If the attorney asks who else saw it, and you don’t know, and if the attorney needs to know what was done at the scene, and you don’t recall, then your case will be very difficult to prove. 

The other side may have medical records, statements taken immediately following the accident, and pictures of the injury. You need to have your evidence as well. For most minor incidents — bumps and bruises — such detail will be unnecessary. When something serious happens, then you should put together a complete file on the incident. 

Consider yourself your own private investigator. Be careful to collect only “objective” facts, though. That means treating facts without distortion by personal feelings or prejudices. You don’t want to be accused of using your position as the instructor to badger your students into lying, embellishing or shading the facts.

Take note of what happened, who was around, what was done about it and by whom, and an account of the events and possible contributing causes. This will serve as a reminder to you, since memory can be inexact. It may be months before you have to give a “deposition” (testimony), and years may go by before a trial. If you rely on your ability to remember a two-year-old event, then you can expect to be expertly tripped up by a skilled attorney on cross examination.

If you have a good martial arts insurance policy, then your insurance company should take care of your legal defense. If you do not have martial arts school insurance, then you should already have an attorney in mind to work on any case you might have. It might be a student, or a parent of a student, who understands martial arts and has some experience litigating. 

Once you receive a lawsuit, your attorney typically has 30 days to file papers with the Court. If you spend 20 of those 30 days hunting for a decent attorney, then your attorney does not have adequate time to prepare your defense. 

At times, attorney’s have received case files the day before paperwork is due, and they have to rush on paperwork that can determine if you win or lose your case. Cases have practically been forced to settlement for more money than the case was worth, because the attorney wasn’t given the Summons and Complaint in time to prepare the necessary paperwork.

Martial Arts Insurance: Mitigating Damages +

While you have to have martial arts insurance, your mission is to never have to use it. The word “mitigate” means “to make less harsh or hostile.” The principle of mitigating damages involves making sure that you take steps to reduce the level of harm. It is normally applied to “plaintiffs” (people who file the lawsuit). An injured student has a responsibility to try to limit the severity of his own harm. 

In a martial arts context, that means that he should stop training when injured. He should not purposely expose himself to greater risk of harm. He should not execute kicks full speed with a bad knee, and he should not throw and be thrown with a bad back. Instructors must make certain that their school policies allow and encourage injured students to mitigate their injury, or the instructor and school could be held liable for pushing an injured student and causing even more harm.

Also, instructors should be able to treat injuries. 

Four students were injured at a tournament, as frequently happens. Two were injured while breaking. They struck the bricks improperly. The other two were injured during sparring, one with a bloodied nose. Despite the presence of many instructors from a variety of schools, there did not seem to be any ready care available for the injured students. 

One of the instructors recommended that the competitor with the bloody nose lean his head back, which is exactly opposite from modern first-aid practices. It causes the blood to flow into the throat and can cause choking and illness (a person’s stomach tends to throw up his own blood). Fortunately for the competitors, one instructor was on the floor with CPR and First Aid certification and advanced martial arts healing techniques. She made herself available to treat the injuries of the competitors. 

Had there been no care available, or had the care been counterproductive (such as causing blood to drain into body cavities), then the injuries could have been much worse than they were.

There should be someone who can tend injuries available at all times. A First Aid kit should be handy. Red Cross certification in First Aid and CPR is recommended. 

One big caution about martial arts-type healing techniques: they had better work. If an esoteric technique is used and makes matters worse, then instructors and schools could get in even more trouble. In fact, the compounding of the injury due to amateur healing techniques may not be covered by your martial arts insurance policy.

Reduce Your Martial Arts Insurance by Avoiding Accidents +

See our comprehensive library of Martial Arts School Insurance Information and Interviews.

Avoiding Accidents

In order to avoid using your martial arts school insurance, you have to address the issue of accidents step-by-step, the first general issue to consider is avoiding accidents. No matter the present situation with documentation or martial arts insurance, if no accidents occur, then there will be no claims. There are three key areas to consider: 

1. Safety of the Training Area.

2. Safety of the Training Equipment.

3. Safety of the Training Techniques.

Safety of the Training Area 

The first thing to do is evaluate the safety of your training area. Any potential dangers need to be addressed. If there is a tear in the mat that could catch someone’s foot, then it should be taped down or the mat replaced. Look at your school from the standpoint of a nit-picking safety inspector. Do not dismiss things as “good enough,” since, in a court of law, “good enough” often isn’t. Carefully explore both the actual training area and the rest of your premises.

SOME COMMON TRAINING-AREA DANGERS

– Torn Mats.

 – Uneven Floor.

 – Protruding Objects (nails, splinters, etc.).

– Equipment Improperly Stored (stacked so it may fall over, weapons loosely mounted on a wall, equipment in training areas, etc.).

 – Sticky or Slick Areas on Hard Floor.

 – Chemicals (usually in restrooms, etc.).

 – Poorly Lit Areas (especially Training Areas).

Safety of the Training Equipment

The second area to carefully evaluate is the safety of your training equipment. If weapons have splinters, then they should be sanded down or replaced. If the grips on sai are coming loose, then they need to be secured. If a cord on nunchaku is frayed or there is a crack in the weapon, it must be replaced. Sharp weapons should be stored well out of the way of curious visitors or students. 

The standard here is the same. Look over every piece of equipment as though you were looking for an excuse to sue your own school.

Some common dangers:

– Splintering or Cracked Weapons.

 – Old Kicking Shields.

 – Stressed Chains on Heavy Bags.

 – Fraying Cord on Speed Bags.

 – Loose Grips on Weapons.

 – Worn Mats.

 – Sharp Weapons.

 – Nunchaku, Three-Section Staves, Eight-Section Whips, and other weapons with which the inexperienced can easily injure themselves.

If you find any potential dangers, address the problem as soon as time and money allow. Do not delay. Many problems can be partially addressed immediately, even if the problem cannot be completely resolved. If the nunchaku cord is frayed, get rid of them now. Even if you can’t replace them for a while, it is better to go without the weapon temporarily than risk serious injury or damage to the school. If the cord breaks during high-performance use, imagine the harm it can do if it struck someone.

If an accident happens today because of a problem you meant to fix tomorrow, you will feel like a fool. If you’ve never had an accident, then now is the time to take care of the problems. You do not want to wait until a student is injured before you try to make your school safe.

Safety of the Training Techniques

The third thing to look for in avoiding accidents is your actual training. Martial arts, by its very nature, bears an element of danger. Students will get minor injuries through the course of their training. The injuries might be as slight as a hyperextended joint or a strained muscle, or as serious as a concussion or fractured bone. 

Combat systems are especially prone to injuries, and training could not be made entirely safe without sacrificing the effectiveness of that training. The question to ask is this: Are there any unnecessary dangers in my training policies?

Some common dangers:

– Weapons Practice in or near traffic areas (a traffic area is not just a walkway, but anywhere that other students move through, even if they are training as well).

– Students wandering near or through other students’ practice areas.

 – Students holding kicking shields or heavy bags improperly (such as in front of the face, where they will hit themselves if their partner hits the shield hard.)

 – Students holding kicking shields or heavy bags for others who hit too hard for them.

 – Students training with sharp weapons without sufficient skill (even masters with decades of experience have nearly killed themselves practicing with combat-quality weapons).

 – Sparring with excessive contact (often as a result of students sparring at a speed too fast for their level of control or a match getting out of hand).

 – Sparring partners using techniques that cannot be safely performed in a sparring match (more than one full-speed MMA bout ended with a crippling injury because techniques were used that are difficult to control in a match).

 – Rolling or falling on a hard floor while learning how to fall (recommendation: use a mat to learn, then the hard floor once some proficiency is developed).

 – Wrist Locks, throws or self-defense skills practiced too hard (recommendation: practice very gently — even too gently — until you learn an individual training partner’s pain and injury thresholds).

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Martial Arts School Liability Insurance Limits +

Standard Martial Arts School Liability Insurance Limits 
According to Sports Fitness Insurance Corp (SFIC), Standard liability limits for martial arts schools are typically one of the following:

  1. $1,000,000 per occurrence (single claim) and either $2,000,000 or $3,000,000 annual aggregate (total of all claims in a given year).
  2. $2,000,000 per occurrence and $4,000,000 aggregate. Higher limits are available through purchasing an Umbrella or Excess Liability policy.

For information visit our Martial Arts School Insurance Hub at MATAInsurance.com.

Martial Arts School Insurance: Questions to Ask a Provider +

See our comprehensive library of Martial Arts School Insurance Information and Interviews.

1.  Does the program’s General Liability policy include an exclusion for athletic participants? If so, it’s not the right program for martial arts school insurance.

2. Is Professional Liability included in the General Liability? It will cost more if you have to buy it separately and martial arts schools need both!

3. Is Sexual Abuse and Molestation coverage included? It is absolutely needed for martial arts school insurance. You may have to implement background checks on employees to qualify for the coverage, but that is very important and not expensive.

4. Can your martial arts school’s summer camps or after school programs be included in the General Liability coverage? You may need to complete a supplemental application but these extra programs need to be covered because they do bring more liability exposure to your school.

5. Have you discussed any other “special event” type coverage that your school might need prior to purchasing the insurance? Make sure you ask questions about your tournaments, exhibitions, demos and any off site activities before they take place. Always better to make sure you have martial arts school insurance coverage before an accident happens!

Martial Arts Insurance: Getting Sued Decades After the Incident +

John Graden: Recently we spoke about the seminar I was at, where one of the Instructors said that over fifteen years after an incident he was sued by a student and it cost him fifteen thousand dollars to make the law suit go away.

In 2015, Bill Cosby was criminally accused and charged with a sexual assault from 2012, so I want to reiterate to our listeners out there, the distinction between a martial arts school Coverage Policy that is specific to a time frame and this policy that is specific to incidents. Please expand on that Jennifer.

Jenifer Urmston: The types of coverage that are out there are Claims Made Coverage versus Occurrence Based Coverage.   Occurrence Based Coverage, covers you for the time period of the policy that an incident occurred during that time and it will continue to cover you for the legal Statute on that claim and would cover you years later, if the incident occurred during the occurrence period of the Policy.

A Claims Made Policy only covers you for claims that are made during that Policies coverage period, which could be this year only, if you didn't buy the tail coverage at the end of the Policy to keep the coverage in effect, for a number of years, going forward.

John Graden: So, in the situation where I described with the Instructor, because I think Cosby's in a whole different league, but it's just reminiscent of the situation, if he had purchased and I don't know if he did or not, a Claims Policy.

Jenifer Urmston: A Claims Made Policy and then did not buy extended tail coverage on it, he would have no coverage for that claim being submitted years later.

An Occurrence based Policy would have covered him for the claim that occurred while it was an active policy, even if it was years later.  And then important, you know, two important things there, you know, that are Statutes of Limitations vary in different States for how many years later a claim can be filed, the Statute of Limitations for claims, for a claim filed by a Child, doesn't even start until they become an Adult, so that's why minors can have claims be filed many years later.

So, it is important to carry Occurrence Based Coverage, for the period of time that your operating your facility or if you already have a Claims Made Policy, it is important to purchase tail coverage on that Policy that is sufficient for the Statute of Limitations in your State, which could be, you know, twenty years later.  So, it is very important to consult someone that knows about the laws in your State as well as to consult an experienced Insurance person in the Fitness Industry who knows about the coverage on these Studio Policies.

John Graden: That is sage advice and very clear, no doubt about it Guys you have to get Occurrence Based Policies and talk to Jennifer Urmston at Sports Fitness Insurance Corporation, the link is right below this video, Jennifer, as always, thanks so much.

Martial Arts Insurance: Holiday Parties and Camps +

John Graden:  Hi everybody I'm John Graden again with Jennifer Urmston from the Sports John Graden:  We are talking in mid November, the holiday seasons are coming up, that brings additional fun and it also brings some additional liability.  Help our Members understand what liabilities they may be facing and what precautions they need to take.

Jennifer Urmston: Well with the Holidays two different things come to mind for me, first of all you could have Kids out of School coming in and spending time in your martial arts facility with some special Holiday Day Camps or Special Programs, so you want to make sure that you communicated to your Insurance Agent, that you have a martial arts Day Camp going on or a Week long Camp going on while the Kids are out of School and make sure that you, you know, are including those new Students, if they are new Students in your Student count so that you're covered.

John Graden:  Can I pause there just for a second, that's a great point.  So, what I'm hearing is that whenever you're doing an event or any kind of special anything, it's a good idea to give your Agent a call just to make sure you're recovered.

Jennifer Urmston: Absolutely. Unless you did it the previous year and it's already included in there.  It's a great opportunity for you to get new members to your ongoing classes to advertise - 'Hey! the Kids are out of School these two weeks, we're offering these three or four Day Camps, let your Kids come and spend the day with us and try out our Programs or learn from other Kids that are there.'  It's a great opportunity for the School to make more revenue and maybe bring in some Kids that aren't normally in the Program, but anytime you do something that's special that's with folks who are not your normal members, you want to make sure that you've communicated that to your Insurance Agent.

Now if you're just going to have a Christmas Party for your own Members, a sort of appreciation night and maybe do some exhibitions for some of the Kids or some of the Adults.  That is not something that you need to worry about communicating to your Agent, because those are your regular Members coming in, maybe on a special night.  If, however, you were going to serve any kind of alcoholic beverages then you'd want to communicate with your Agent and make sure you have coverage for Host Liquor on your policy.

Now in Schools with Kids, I don't see that being requested very often, but if you have a Christmas Party and its just regular food and beverage and maybe some demonstration and you know, saying thank you and Happy Holidays to your Members, that you're covered for.  So, the other thing that jumps to my mind outside of these special events and activities and parties that you might hold would be the holiday weather.

As the weather starts to get bad in some parts of the Country and November, December, January, and you have Snow and Ice, you want to make sure that's being cleared off your sidewalks and out of your Parking Lot.  Make the extra phone call to you Landlord if necessary because you don't want your Members tripping and falling.  Most Martial Arts Schools and Studios are required to provide their Landlord with a Certificate of Insurance, so that they're responsible for their own members walking on those sidewalks, but you may not be responsible for clearing the ice and snow yourself, that's probably up to the Landlord.  So, stay on top of making sure the Landlord's getting your facility safe for your Members to enter and exit.

John Graden:  Well that leads us really to the next question and that is, some of these Guys, especially when they are just starting out and money is tight, they are hoping that their Landlord has Basic Liability or they even think their Homeowners Insurance is going to help them in cases of a claim like you've just described.  Talk to us about the, how that falls short of Participation Liability or per Event Liability.

Jennifer Urmston: Well on a Commercial General Liability Policy tailored for your Martial Arts School or your Martial Arts Studio, your coverage is much, much, broader, than what would be provided under Public Liability that your Landlord may have for people coming and going from a facility and now, that again, that's with the understanding that your Landlord hasn't required you, as part of signing the lease to provide proof of your Insurance for him.

If you are new to the Business and your Landlord hasn't required you to get the Insurance and you haven't got any Insurance and you're just hoping that the Landlord's Public Liability Insurance is going to cover you.  The limit to that Public Liability Insurance is probably slipping and falling on the premises, tripping over the door entry, a hole in the Parking Lot, something out on the sidewalk, it's not going to have any coverage for your professionally as a Martial Artist in what you're teaching your Students.

It wouldn't have any coverage for the Personal Injury that your Students could claim, or any Advertising Injury that you're Students could claim or any sexual abuse or molestation that your Students can claim.  So, it's not a good idea at all to rely on the Public Liability Insurance of a Landlord.  Now your Homeowners Insurance, is usually is not going to cover you for Business that's conducted off site.

John Graden:  Pretty much period.

Jennifer Urmston: Period. So, you would just, you would most likely have no coverage there, if a claim was turned in.

John Graden:  I'm going to wrap this up with us going back to the Party.

Jennifer Urmston: Okay.

John Graden:  If you're in a situation, not so much weather related, but let's say you are serving some Wine and Drinks because the Parents are there, that's happens and someone has an accident on the way home. Obviously, anyone can sue anyone that's clear, but would, does that type of scenario need to be written specifically into a Policy or in most cases is that covered in the General Liability.

Jennifer Urmston: Some General Liability Policies will have Host Liquor included.  Which is you're serving it at a Party or someone's bringing their own, but you're not selling it.  So, what you have to do is make sure your General Liability Policy that you own on your School, includes Host Liquor.  That's why it's worth a phone call before the Christmas Party to your Insurance Agent, if you haven't already checked on that before, because it's not a given that it will be on there, but it can be on there.  So, you just need to ask.

John Graden:  And that is a good place to stop.  It's been very interesting, the holidays are coming up, there are a lot of things that I certainly did not consider and I certainly hope that our Members are going to take full advantage of this information.  Please check out our Insurance Page at  and visit Sports and Fitness Insurance Corporation with Jennifer Urmston, thanks again, so much.

Martial Arts Insurance: How a Guest Instructor Can Kill Your Business. Literally. +

John Graden:  It's a common occurrence in a Martial Art's School, a Buddy of yours says 'Hey! I liked to teach a seminar for x amount of Dollars' and you promote the seminar and you bring the Guy in, I used to do this all the time with Joe Lewis and Bill Wallace and a bunch of other Guys.

I've also seen Schools that rent their space out in the Mornings to Yoga or Tai Chi or Aerobics and on the Weekends, sometimes even to Churches on Sunday's, this is a common occurrence, there can be serious repercussions if you do not take the proper steps to structure this arrangement and Jennifer Urmston from Sports and Fitness Insurance Corporation is here to tell you exactly, how to structure that and to also share with you a seriously tragic story about a School who had the Nightmare of Nightmares happen during a Weekend at Self Defense Seminar with quote - a Buddy.

Jennifer starts by telling us the first and most important question to ask anyone who wants to rent our School, or we bring in for a Seminar.  Take it away Jennifer.

Jennifer Urmston: Does the person wanting to come, use your facility to teach their class, regardless of what kind of class it is, do they carry their own Insurance?  It is the number one question, is do they have their own Insurance and number two, are they requiring their Participants to sign a liability waiver.  I recommend to every Martial Arts School, get proof of Insurance before you rent space to anyone, teaching any kind of class, whether it's Yoga, or Tai Chi or Kick Boxing or Self Defense, it doesn't matter, make sure they have their own insurance and make sure that they are having their Members or their Participants sign a waiver.

And the School Owner should really see that, to have proof of it before letting the people come in and it can be a Buddy that they've known a long time or it can be someone that just, you know, found that by driving by, the Instructor, really has to carry their own Insurance or if you want that Instructor to work for you, you can hire that Instructor and you can have their Participants sign your own waiver and you can just pay that Instructor whatever your wage is or whatever, your fee per head count is,  but that person, if they don't have insurance, any injury with their Students could be coming back on you and your Business with you not having a signed waiver in your Businesses Name and you not getting the appropriate remuneration for those people participating in your School and being on your Insurance.

John Graden: So, let's talk about the logistics of that, alright, so it's Tuesday and my Buddy says in two weeks I'd like to teach a Self Defense class on a Sunday, maybe he's got some Church friends or something he put together and he says, 'Okay, I want to teach a Self Defense Class on Sunday, I'm going to charge 20 bucks a head, I'll give you ten.'  Most Guys at that point say that's great, shake hands and that's it, they help promote it.  What steps specifically does that Owner need to actually do now?

Jennifer Urmston: Tell your Buddy my Insurance Company requires that I get a copy of your Certificate of Insurance and he should have it.  If not he can go online and get it, we can place Individual Instructor Insurance Policies for less than two hundred dollars a year, that would cover that Instructor, everywhere that he goes to train or to work with people.

John Graden: So, if this Guy's out there doing seminars on a regular basis, that's ideal for him.

Jennifer Urmston: Absolutely, there is coverage out there for Instructors who do not own their own facility and who either work on like a rent basis like we're talking about here or on a 1099 Contract basis, they can have their own coverage and if they are teaching a class in the Church Rec Centre or they are teaching it at the Boy Scout Hut or they're teaching it at a Women's Club, they would be covered everywhere they go.  So, it is absolutely crazy for the Instructors to be walking around without their own coverage, but an Individual School Owner needs to say 'Hey! Buddy.

My Insurance isn't going to let me, you know, let you be here without getting proof of your Insurance and I need to make sure that you've got your participants signing a waiver, otherwise, I want them to be signing my waiver.'  They need to sign a liability waiver, that they understand they could be injured in a Class.

John Graden: And then I wonder again about the logistics of that, if it's a Sunday, does that I guess the logistics would be the Instructor, the Owner needs to come up with some way of enrolling these Students, which in a sense, flows through the School, which really, they ought to do, because they can capture that prospect then anyway.

Jenifer Urmston: That's right, that's right.  Whether, it makes sense to use your after hour times, whether it's maybe it's during the day or on a Sunday, or after your Kids are done and you've got an Adults Class of some kind coming in there, it makes a lot of sense to get some revenue out of your down time, but you still want to be on site and enrol those people. I would really, highly recommend an Owner be on site or have an employee on site when an outside party is coming in to use their facility, just to make sure that the facility is properly treated and the Classes are safe.

John Graden: It's just a response, being a responsible Owner.  Okay, so Insurance stories are most powerful when there is a third party story that is real and there was a hyper real incident that really illustrates this.  Tell us about what just happened.

Jennifer Urmston: We did have a claim come in where, you know, a School Owner, did allow a Buddy to come in and teach a Self Defense course and there was a significant life threatening injury to a person and that Buddy did not have his own Insurance and it's going to come back on the School's Insurance and you know, the School will have a major claim and could impact their ability to buy Insurance in the future and their ability to stay in Business.

So, it is, it is, a Student got hurt with a, again, an Instructor coming in, to use the space who didn't have their own Insurance, that wasn't going through the School, it was going through this outside Instructor that he just let come in and use the space.  So, it's important to make sure these outside Instructors, have their own Insurance because the claim would go against the Instructor and not against the School.

So, I just recommended don't risk your Business letting someone come in and use your space, just take a quick minute and say 'Hey! I need to make sure you have insurance and I may need to make sure your participants are signing waivers' and feel free to blame it on your Insurance Company, you're not trying to hurt your Buddies feelings, it's not that you don't like him or want him using your space, it's that you really have to and it's smart to protect your Business that way.

John Graden: What is that School facing now, in terms of potential law suits, liability, maybe criminal action?

Jennifer Urmston:  I don't know about criminal action, there isn't any criminal action, but there definitely could be a law suit, there could be, you know, a life-threatening injury's going to have tens of thousands of dollars of Medical Bills that are going to show up as a claim on their record.  If there's a law suit, it could be you know a significant claim on their record and it also, it's a bad business procedure to let someone use your facility that doesn't have Insurance, so that's just going to be an under writing, black mark really.

John Graden: So realistically that poor decision could cost this Guy his Business and if the Corporate Shield is penetrated, which is it usually is pretty easily, he could be facing, could is the key word, facing some personal liability as well.

Jennifer Urmston: You know, he had good Insurance in this case.

John Graden: Because he's with you Guys, I guess, this I see. [Laughs]

Jennifer Urmston: That's right.

John Graden: Yeah, good Insurance, Wow!

Jennifer Urmston: But it, but I, I share it, just that, we know that everybody gets asked for a Buddy to use a facility, it's not a good decision to let anyone use the facility without Insurance and then find out, again, supervise, watch what they're doing.  When I first heard it, I just got wrenched over, like first of all we were told it was a Child to start with, but it was an Adult.  And then, you know, we came out of the whole, okay, it is an Adult, the Adult's going to survive.

But the big deal for the Studios is what we've hit on is that they're all being asked to use their facility and it could be a minor claim but it could also be a Kid getting left alone in that facility with some Instructor that molests them, that's why you don't want people using your facility and just letting them go in and out.

When it comes to protecting your Martial Arts School, your best Defense is insurance with Sports and Fitness Insurance Corporation at sportsfitness.com.  SFIC, specializes in insuring Martial Arts and Fitness facilities go to sportfitness.com today and tell them John Graden sent you.

Do You Need Additional Insurance for Your Martial Arts Summer Camp? +

John Graden: Summer time is coming and I know Schools do either Martial Arts Summer Camps which for instance is a four or six week period where the Kids come to the Martial Arts School and they do stuff throughout the day and it's usually a combination of their current Students and hopefully a lot of Students that are, a lot of people that are attending that don't belong to the Schools current roster, in hopes that they'll enroll after the experience.

But, clearly Parents have to work over the Summer and putting their Kids in a Martial Arts Summer Camp or a Summer School, is very attractive to the School and attractive to the Parents. However, as always there are liabilities involved.  Jennifer talk to us about what these Schools need to really understand about the potential for liability at their Summer Camp. What kind of insurance do they need for a Summer Camp?

Jennifer Urmston: Thank you, John. First at all it's very, very, important if you're holding a Summer Camp, to reach out to your Agent and make sure that your current insurance policy will cover the Summer Camp, because in a Summer Camp you typically have care, custody, and control of those Students, for a longer period of time, than you do during the School Year, when they're just in for their Class and then they go back home.

So, it is different coverage on a lot of Policies that you need to tell your Agent about and they need to know how many Students are going to come and how many hours of the day they are going to stay there and they need to know if you are transporting those Students anywhere else and going off property.  That leads me into when you are setting up your Summer Camp, if you are taking them off property and going outside or going to a Park or doing any kind of activity that's away from your premises, not only do you need to tell your Insurance Company but that needs to be part of the liability waiver that your Parent's sign for those Kids.

So, if you are doing anything off site, make sure it if very clear that they're going to be outdoors, or they're going to be at a Park, or they're going to be at a Swimming Pool, if you're taking them somewhere and that that language is included in the waiver, so the Parents are signing off that they know their Child's going to be off premises and doing other things.

The other thing that. that really comes to mind and that you should always be aware of for any time of Day Camp or Summer Camp is that you're going to be having participants who are not your normal Students, who are not as familiar with your Marital Arts teaching itself, so again making sure that these new participants are very comfortable with the activities, before they do any more advanced activities.

John Graden: I'm imaging that you're suggesting a different waiver of liability for the Camp than the one they've signed for the School.

Jennifer Urmston: Yes, exactly John, a Summer Camp waiver that is really designed for those Kids that haven't been in your facility before and also designed to tell the Parents what these Kids are going to be doing so that they're signing off on it that they know that their Kids are going to be doing these things.  Additionally, you know, when you do have Kids there for Summer Camp, be aware of always having two Adults in your Group of Kids and this is important for protecting yourself from a sexual abuse or molestation claim.

Make sure there are always two Adults with the Kids, if Kids are changing clothes, make sure Kids of the same age are in the Dressing Room, changing clothes, versus, Kids that are significantly older, make sure that again, that you are aware of the need to protect the Children and Supervise the Children at all times, make sure any extra hired, you know help that you're bringing in, any extra Instructors that are going to be helping you out in the Summer that you've done background checks on those folks, again to protect yourself from any kind of claim that the Child was abused in any way.

John Graden: Let's talk about background checks for just a moment.  There is. First up it's not that expensive and it's easy to do in today's technological world with the Web, right?

Jennifer Urmston: Right, absolutely, right now our Vendor Secure Search, it's available on our website, it has a flat fee of I believe of $18 per person to do a background check and those checks will cover all fifty States, everywhere where that person has lived.

And it's very easy and you're documenting for your file, that you did check every Volunteer and every person over eighteen years old, that are working with your Kids, that they haven't had any priors for abusing Children and you keep, you know, copy that in your file, that you did everything you could ahead of time to protect your Students.

John Graden: Well let's talk to a little bit about some of the incidents that do happen.  If you do a google search for Summer Camp Law Suits you get all sorts of crazy stories from Kids falling off horses, from rocks hitting them the head, one Kid, bless his soul, drowned in the Lake, another Girl got Lyme disease, what is the range of liabilities in terms of specific instances or stories that you can recall.

Jennifer Urmston: Well again, that's one of the reasons that I brought up the Issue, of making sure if you're taking Children off-site that you're very clear about that and that Parents are signing off on that and that Children themselves are prepared for that, they know what's coming.

Swimming Pools are, any bodies of water are dangerous, my experience is we have far more claims related to bodies of water than anything else, again I haven't had a claim from someone getting hurt from a Horse but you certainly can imagine that when you have Children who aren't familiar with Horses that you could have an injury.

The Lyme Disease, brings up an issue that's important to know, which is that most Insurance Policies do excluding communicable disease, and so again that's something to be aware of in your waiver, that you're telling the Parents that the Kids are going to be outside.

That it's not known to the Parents that the Children are going to be outside in the Woods or in a Canoe, or riding a Horse, or they could come in contact with Tics or Fleas, or other Bugs or Snakes, that are natural to the Outdoors.

John Graden: How about a Snake Bite?

Jennifer Urmston: I, again if you've taken care to let them know that they're going to be outside, it's kind of like when you go for a hike and someone’s foot gets stuck in a hole, you know, if they know they're going outside for a hike in the woods, that's a normal part of going outside for a hike in the woods, your liability is that you are prepared to administer first aid, you are prepared to get that Child safely the care that they need.

So again be, make sure your Instructors have been trained in First Aid, have been trained in CPR, that you have an emergency plan if you're taking Kids off site, how are you going to get them to the Emergency Room, if they fall and break something or if they get bitten by a Snake, make sure whatever Pool, if you're going to use a Pool, bring them, or a body of Water, that there are Lifeguards there, that are trained to administer CPR, you know it be, the thing is your expertise as a Martial Arts School Owner, is in teaching your Kids Martial Arts Skills and Life Skills, that you do every day in your facility.  If you are not an expert at handling a Swimming Pool, make sure you are taking them where they do have good expert Lifeguards.

John Graden: You know I look back at the Summer Camps, we did about three of them and they were really successful, they would generate, thirty, forty, fifty thousand dollars over the course of actually, just a weekend, it was really powerful, but it was, I think back at all the potential liabilities.

We actually had an Ambulance called one time, because this Kid got so anxious about a demonstration that he was going to do that night on the stage, he started throwing up and getting sick.  We had to call an Ambulance because he was just too nervous.  But then I had, you know, one of the Teenagers say, 'Yeah, just swam out to that rock and back, in the middle of the lake.'  I thought I had no idea that Kid was swimming out there, Holy Cow, Wow!

Jennifer Urmston: Out that far, right.  The wonderful thing about the Summer Camps, like you said they can generate great revenue for your facility, they expose new people to your facility, you get more Students in the fall, it's great, but what I would always caution is make sure you have spoken to your Insurance Carrier, make sure you've written down all the activities that they are going to do and disclose that to the insurance carrier and the Parents and there, there should be an additional premium on your Insurance for doing this.

 

If you're going to make thirty or forty thousand dollars over the course of a Summer Camp and there is going to be an additional premium or two or three hundred dollars, it's worth it to make sure you have coverage, for all these things that you want to do with these Kids that are abnormal to your normal Business, with Kids that aren't familiar with your normal Business.

Don't take that liability on yourself, communicate it to your insurance carrier and make sure they are covering you for those Summer Camps because they are an outstanding way to grow your Business.  I'm the Mum of a ten year old Boy, I love when he does new things in the Summer and does something new that he's going to enjoy and want to continue doing in the Fall.

So, it's great for the Kids, it's great for the Parents, it's great for the Business, just do your homework ahead of time to know what you're doing and communicate it to the Parents and the Insurance Company.

John Graden: Thank you again as always Jenifer for that insight, because that is really important knowledge.  Alright Guys you heard it from the Pro.  Make sure you get your waivers filled out, make a good list of all the activities that you're going to be doing and get those background checks done.

Do Injury Waivers Still Work for Martial Arts Accidents? +

John Graden: It's John Graden for the Martial Arts Teachers Association back with Jennifer Urmston from Sports and Fitness Insurance Corporation. Jennifer, we were talking before we came on air and you absolutely blew my mind so I couldn't wait to stop the presses and let our listeners know that Martial Arts injury waivers are not holding up like they used to.  Holy Cow!  Tell me about that.

Jennifer Urmston: Well we have had it made very clear to us by our carriers and across the Country the liability waivers that members and Students are required to sign for Martial Arts Studios and Schools are really not holding up in Court like we all think they should and hope they should.

It's just an unfortunate side effect of this, you know, society that we live in that people can sue for anything and they can claim that the Martial Arts School was negligent which nullifies a waiver and you're into a claim and you're into a law suit and you have to prove that you were not negligent and that costs money, so more than ever got to carry your Insurance, and not rely on those waivers.

John Graden: Yeah and I have sadly some experience in that regard.  What's happens in a scenario and it's not specially like this but if a family can convince an attorney to take the case, he will file the suit, you have to hire an attorney to defend that, so it may cost you fifty a hundred grand, just for the Judge to say 'Oh this is covered by the waiver, there's no liability here.' but you still out all that stress and all that money.

Jennifer Urmston: That's right, nothing can stop someone from filing a law suit and then the cost to defend the law suit, really starts around twenty thousand dollars and goes up from there and can be significantly higher like you said, so it is very, very important to have your Insurance, to make sure you've got the proper Insurance, so that your Insurance carrier is fighting that, a a claim like that for you and you know they have it, our Insurance Carriers have attorneys that specialize in our Industry and can hopefully get the claim settled before it ever goes to Court and runs up those kind of bills.

John Graden: Typically, initially there's some kind of mediation or motion or summary, judgement, that essentially goes to the Court and says this is invalid, it's covered by the waiver, this should be thrown out.  If you're lucky, it will get thrown out and you will only be out five or ten grand, but in many cases, it's going to go and he's going to, the Judge is going to want to hear the entire case and that means, you're into trials and pre-trails and...

Jennifer Urmston: And also, you’re paying your attorney by the hour to take depositions and you're paying a independent investigator to take photographs and interview and you know, even document that you did everything right.  That's why claims get expensive, because there's so much more to it, then people think of that initially.

An accident happens, what steps do an instructor, should an instructor take to protect themselves on the spot.?

John Graden: So, let's think about that for a second.  An accident happens, what steps do an instructor, should an instructor take to protect themselves on the spot.  Should every Instructor know first aid, should they get the I-Phone out and start interviewing and taking photos, what goes through the, the kid just, two kids are sparring, one gets hit in the head with the shin of the other Kid.  He went to kick him in the head with the pad of his foot, but he, the Kid ducked into it a little bit and the hard bone of his shin, smashed into his nose and eye orbit, off to the Hospital we go.  The accident just happened, what does the Instructor do?

Jennifer Urmston: Well it is absolutely correct for the Instructor to put the Child's welfare for the stand, provide First Aid and to get the Child the medical care as soon as possible.  Absolutely you always want to show that you did everything you could to take care of that Child and contact the Parents accordingly if they weren't there on site.

The next thing you do after that critical moment of getting the Child care has past is document everything that happened and that means your eye witness account as the Instructor, any other Adult that was present, their eye witness account, the names of the other Children that were present and you would want to go ahead and pull up the liability waivers that the Parent's signed and have them at hand.

When there isn't a piece of equipment involved, like a that broke or failed, or it didn't involve a slip and fall on a mat, there might not be anything to take pictures of, I mean obviously, the Child's injuries will be photographed at the Emergency Room, so those eye witness accounts are going to be important, that you were providing the proper instruction, you know the documentation of your sparring rules.  What they know that they're supposed to be doing every day when they're in class.

Those will, would be included with the copies of the waivers that the Kid's signed as you put together the information to pass along to the Insurance Claims Adjustor who's going to be assigned to the case and the way a case like that would typically unfold.

You know, most of the time, Claimants are looking for reimbursement of medical bills, unless there is some kind of more permanent damage, like there's going to be a permanent scare, permanent disfigurement and then that's the kind of thing that can get an attorney involved and asking for more significant amounts of money and all of your documentation will come into play.

John Graden:  I know that when, I owned a School and this is going back a few years, but I wasn't at the School I was out at a seminar or something across the Country and I called in and one of our Adult Green Belts had just had his Ankle shattered doing a self defense - we used to call it self defense, because this thing called one steps was just foolishness - anyway, he had to have eight different pins put into his ankle and could barely walk for six months and I was amazed that I never caught any heat for that, from that Guy.  I think it was more an indication of the times, particularly being a Guy we have that tough it out mindset, but those days I think are long gone.

Jennifer Urmston: Well we had a discussion about that, not long ago at all, sitting there with just those of us that are fitness devotees, those who really love working out and love training and love Teaching, you know that are very into being a Martial Artist or you know work out every day and are in to being fit, are the people that are least likely to file a claim if they do bust up their Ankle, tear a AC or blow out a shoulder when they're in the Studio, because they do this every day, they believe in what they are doing and they understand that accidents happen and that they have some responsibility for their own actions and their own decisions to push themselves a little harder and to be there in the first place.

But you, we actually kind of, you don't see claims from the folks that are there all the time that are into it, they will suck it up as you put it and take this on as their own responsibility. You know I've been working out my own life, I, you know, I know you, it's my own fault for falling of the treadmill, or it's my own fault for putting too much weight on the stack, or it's my own fault for striking my Ankle on the wrong way.

John Graden: I remember telling my Students very early and consistently pain is part of the training.  This is not ballet class.  I remember again hitting a target and I missed it and I hit the guy in the wrist, blasted it, he was an Engineer with NASA and he was a Hungarian Guy.  I said, “I a’m sorry”.  He said, “It's okay Sir, pain is part of the training.”  It was just like he had been programmed, it was perfect.

Jennifer Urmston: Well and I also believe that are society has become more litigious and also people's and yes, that's true and people's medical Insurance is not "as good", quote, unquote, they have higher out of pocket maximums and they have higher deductibles and you know, if they don't have the money in the bank, they've got to come looking for it, when ten or fifteen years ago, with lower deductibles, lower out of pocket maximums they might never have come looking for their medical bills to be paid.

John Graden: That is such a great point.  Deductibles are so high, that Insurance, health Insurance, really is becoming almost catastrophic Insurance because you have to pay so much just to the get to the point where it kicks in.

Jennifer Urmston: That's right and the cost of an MRI versus the cost of an X-Ray, how much can people come out of pocket, thousands of dollars versus hundreds of dollars, so these are the reasons, Insurance rates, you know,  have gone up and these are the reasons we have more law suits filed, is because it is less affordable to pay for big injuries yourself, so people come looking for, you know the other party, when they might not have in the past.

John Graden: So the final thing I want to ask you about in terms of waivers and we'll do this real briefly, but we're seeing a little bit of - Do It Yourself Insurance-  where they essentially provide you with all the forms that they would be filling out, but they have you fill it out instead, you submit it and you save a lot of money on the Insurance, but I think it's a bit of a role of the dice as to whether or not you're really going to be protected.

Jennifer Urmston: Do you mean with creating the waivers with online programs?

John Graden: The waivers and filling out the applications etc., there's some Insurances are putting it more and more on the Client, the insured I guess so to say, the more that they do and save time for the Insurance Company the lower the Insurance Company is going to charge, so less they're going to charge, so we're seeing some Do It Yourself Insurance programs out there and if this is not something that you are familiar with, we can certainly put this off to another time.

Jennifer Urmston: Well no I think what you're saying makes sense, you always, always, want to work with an Insurance programs that has a speciality in sports and fitness and martial arts, because all those different coverages that you need, your professional liability coverage, the medical payments coverage, not having an exclusion for athletic participants, those things that are specialized to what we do are going to be there on a policy from a program that specializes in this and they may not be there on the other programs, you have to be able to get a live person on the phone also and ask a question when you have one.

And so it’s important to work with a Company that, there may be an electronic application that's easy to use, but there's also a live human being that's is going to take a look at your application and call you with questions and that you'll have that person as your contact, to call as your agent and ask questions when you have questions and so Customer Service is important but primarily making sure you're working with an Insurance program that is specialized and tailored to what you do.

John Graden: Got it and I think what really brings this up is that we're seeing Companies that were you go on and you almost design your own waiver, digital waiver that gets submitted and approved and that's the way we are going to use, based upon our discussion, even waivers that are professionally designed by teams of attorneys still sometimes, don't hold up so, it's probably best to go ahead and spend a little bit more and make sure it's done right from the beginning.

Jennifer Urmston:  And make sure that you're keeping the documentation yourself, that you have it, that's right.

John Graden: In hard copy, in a safe.[Laughter]

John Graden: Jennifer thanks as always, I appreciate it and I know our members do as well.  Folks if you haven't visited Sports and Fitness Insurance Corporation check out the MATA credits for becoming a client under your MATA Membership.  I'm John Graden with Jennifer Urmston.

Martial Arts School Insurance: The 3 Types of Martial Arts Liability +

Anyone working with the public, especially kids, must be careful when it comes to personal interactions. Children's classes, fitness kickboxing, and self-defense all have their own potential liabilities. Here are three primary types of liability exposure common to all Martial Arts studios.

First up is premises liability. Premises liability relates to the facility itself and is primarily the responsibility of the studio owner. Real life occurrences of premises liability that can lead to claims include a slip and fall on the sidewalk or over electrical cords.

One of the most common insurance claims in any brick and mortar business is a wet floor. If someone slips and falls and claims the owner knew the floor was wet or didn’t take proper precautions to create a safe environment, it could lead to legal action.

The second liability is professional liability. This is where the vast majority of exposure exists for Martial Arts professionals. All of the schools staff, instructors and assistant instructors are held accountable for the things that they say and do OR fail to say or do. This includes performing the actual teaching and instructing in a class or session, as well as the advice that they provide such as nutritional counseling. The most common form of professional liability claims occur when a member or client is injured and alleges that the instructor failed to keep a safe environment or taught something that resulted in injury.

Board breaking, poorly taught take downs, and uncontrolled sparring are just a few of the potential circumstances for a professional liability action.

Finally, Martial Arts professionals have exposure for sexual abuse and molestation claims. Since the majority of students are minors, schools are open to claims of improper touching, overly familiar language or inappropriate comments. Dressing rooms where adults and children change clothes, sleep overs, and tournament trips are just the obvious examples of the potential for a claim.

3 Surprising Ways Someone Can Sue a Martial Arts School +

As an owner of a martial arts studio, you know there are risks and responsibilities associated.  There are all kinds of reasons someone could sue a martial arts school. It could be an injury as a result of an accident, an insult introduced by inadvertent humor, or even a claim from a client that a martial arts instructor negatively impacted their health, or worse, acted in a sexually inappropriate manner with a child.

These are all things that you, as a studio owner, can’t really control. People will be people. But, you can protect your martial arts school from potential problems or even lawsuits. Think martial arts school insurance!

Recently, SFIC has partnered with the Martial Arts Teachers’ Association to help school owners understand exactly what they need. Insurance can be somewhat of a mystery as many business owners know they need it to satisfy loans and leases, but very often are not sure what and who it actually covers.

3 Quick Examples:

#1: You, as the studio owner, and your direct employees are covered under your liability insurance. The independent contractors who work at your facility are notcovered under your policy. It is very important to verify that independent contractors carry their own professional liability insurance

#2: Loose lips sink ships. As the business owner you are responsible for what the instructors say to your students and their family members. An unsolicited remark at the school deemed inappropriate by a client may result in a sexual abuse lawsuit against your business. Or, perhaps an instructor gives nutritional advice to a student or family member that causes them to feel light-headed and faint. Ultimately, under the laws of fitness liability, you are responsible.

#3: Protect your staff. It’s not unusual for an instructor to get hurt while on the job. It is important to carry workers’ compensation insurance to cover wage replacement and medical benefits to injured employees.

The reality is, a lawsuit can be filed for anything, and a policy will be suspended even if the claim is frivolous. It is important to understand the details of your health club insurance. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to contact us!

What Makes a Good Liability Waiver? +

Martial arts school owners often give very little attention to their liability waivers or hold harmless agreements because they feel they are not going to protect them from claims and they don’t want to pay for legal advice. The truth is, state laws determine how effective a waiver may be in court, but it is important to always have a well-written waiver in every state.

We read examples all the time about large liability settlements and awards in which the liability waiver did not protect the fitness center from claims. We usually don’t read about the many instances in which the waiver resulted in a claim being dismissed by the court.

liability waiver is intended to release the school from liability for injury resulting from ordinary negligence. But in order to ensure protection, it is important to work with a lawyer in your state with experience in the liability waiver laws of your state. Some states require specific language for the waiver to hold up in court. Although good cost-saving resources are available to help fitness center owners write their own waivers, it is imperative that an experienced attorney review and edit the waiver before it is put into use in your fitness school.

A well-written liability waiver is the single best tool a martial arts school owner has to manage risk.

Of course, a waiver does not protect a martial arts school from gross negligence, reckless conduct or intentional acts. When we see big headlines for large claim settlements, there is usually a claim of gross negligence that resulted in serious injury.

So, don’t rely just on a liability waiver to protect your fitness business from claims even if it is a good waiver and you live in a state with favorable waiver laws. You must take other steps, too, such as carrying an appropriate level of liability insurance, taking all possible steps to protect your members, and documenting all upkeep and maintenance throughout the year.

What Makes a Well-Written Liability Waiver?

As stated above, obtain the assistance of an expert to help you develop a waiver. Most likely, this will be an attorney with experience in the liability waiver laws of your state and preferably one who is also familiar with the fitness industry and your school. In addition, consider these things:

  • Use a stand-alone waiver document separate from your membership or participation agreement. These have proven to stand up better in court. Write the waiver document so it is as specific as possible to your school and the activities the participant will engage in at your school.
  • The language of the waiver can make this a positive document to review with your members and guests. You can explain how their safety is of the utmost importance to your martial arts school, explain the inherent risks of participation and close by requiring their signature on the release of liability.
  • Another common question relates to waivers for children and minors. A parent must sign the waiver for a minor. Although waivers for minors rarely hold up in court in most states, it still is imperative to obtain one for minor participants in fitness activities and in the child care facilities at fitness centers. Again, get expert assistance when creating waivers for minors.

Waivers can work well in some states and less so in others, but they are more than worth the money you spend to write them if they save your fitness business from even one claim – now or in the future.

Do Injury Waivers Still Work for Martial Arts Accidents? +

John Graden: It's John Graden for the Martial Arts Teachers Association back with Jennifer Urmston from Sports and Fitness Insurance Corporation. Jennifer, we were talking before we came on air and you absolutely blew my mind so I couldn't wait to stop the presses and let our listeners know that Martial Arts injury waivers are not holding up like they used to.  Holy Cow!  Tell me about that.

Jennifer Urmston: Well we have had it made very clear to us by our carriers and across the Country the liability waivers that members and Students are required to sign for Martial Arts Studios and Schools are really not holding up in Court like we all think they should and hope they should.

It's just an unfortunate side effect of this, you know, society that we live in that people can sue for anything and they can claim that the Martial Arts School was negligent which nullifies a waiver and you're into a claim and you're into a law suit and you have to prove that you were not negligent and that costs money, so more than ever got to carry your Insurance, and not rely on those waivers.

John Graden: Yeah and I have sadly some experience in that regard.  What's happens in a scenario and it's not specially like this but if a family can convince an attorney to take the case, he will file the suit, you have to hire an attorney to defend that, so it may cost you fifty a hundred grand, just for the Judge to say 'Oh this is covered by the waiver, there's no liability here.' but you still out all that stress and all that money.

Jennifer Urmston: That's right, nothing can stop someone from filing a law suit and then the cost to defend the law suit, really starts around twenty thousand dollars and goes up from there and can be significantly higher like you said, so it is very, very important to have your Insurance, to make sure you've got the proper Insurance, so that your Insurance carrier is fighting that, a a claim like that for you and you know they have it, our Insurance Carriers have attorneys that specialize in our Industry and can hopefully get the claim settled before it ever goes to Court and runs up those kind of bills.

John Graden: Typically, initially there's some kind of mediation or motion or summary, judgement, that essentially goes to the Court and says this is invalid, it's covered by the waiver, this should be thrown out.  If you're lucky, it will get thrown out and you will only be out five or ten grand, but in many cases, it's going to go and he's going to, the Judge is going to want to hear the entire case and that means, you're into trials and pre-trails and...

Jennifer Urmston: And also, you’re paying your attorney by the hour to take depositions and you're paying a independent investigator to take photographs and interview and you know, even document that you did everything right.  That's why claims get expensive, because there's so much more to it, then people think of that initially.

An accident happens, what steps do an instructor, should an instructor take to protect themselves on the spot.?

John Graden: So, let's think about that for a second.  An accident happens, what steps do an instructor, should an instructor take to protect themselves on the spot.  Should every Instructor know first aid, should they get the I-Phone out and start interviewing and taking photos, what goes through the, the kid just, two kids are sparring, one gets hit in the head with the shin of the other Kid.  He went to kick him in the head with the pad of his foot, but he, the Kid ducked into it a little bit and the hard bone of his shin, smashed into his nose and eye orbit, off to the Hospital we go.  The accident just happened, what does the Instructor do?

Jennifer Urmston: Well it is absolutely correct for the Instructor to put the Child's welfare for the stand, provide First Aid and to get the Child the medical care as soon as possible.  Absolutely you always want to show that you did everything you could to take care of that Child and contact the Parents accordingly if they weren't there on site.

The next thing you do after that critical moment of getting the Child care has past is document everything that happened and that means your eye witness account as the Instructor, any other Adult that was present, their eye witness account, the names of the other Children that were present and you would want to go ahead and pull up the liability waivers that the Parent's signed and have them at hand.

When there isn't a piece of equipment involved, like a that broke or failed, or it didn't involve a slip and fall on a mat, there might not be anything to take pictures of, I mean obviously, the Child's injuries will be photographed at the Emergency Room, so those eye witness accounts are going to be important, that you were providing the proper instruction, you know the documentation of your sparring rules.  What they know that they're supposed to be doing every day when they're in class.

Those will, would be included with the copies of the waivers that the Kid's signed as you put together the information to pass along to the Insurance Claims Adjustor who's going to be assigned to the case and the way a case like that would typically unfold.

You know, most of the time, Claimants are looking for reimbursement of medical bills, unless there is some kind of more permanent damage, like there's going to be a permanent scare, permanent disfigurement and then that's the kind of thing that can get an attorney involved and asking for more significant amounts of money and all of your documentation will come into play.

John Graden:  I know that when, I owned a School and this is going back a few years, but I wasn't at the School I was out at a seminar or something across the Country and I called in and one of our Adult Green Belts had just had his Ankle shattered doing a self defense - we used to call it self defense, because this thing called one steps was just foolishness - anyway, he had to have eight different pins put into his ankle and could barely walk for six months and I was amazed that I never caught any heat for that, from that Guy.  I think it was more an indication of the times, particularly being a Guy we have that tough it out mindset, but those days I think are long gone.

Jennifer Urmston: Well we had a discussion about that, not long ago at all, sitting there with just those of us that are fitness devotees, those who really love working out and love training and love Teaching, you know that are very into being a Martial Artist or you know work out every day and are in to being fit, are the people that are least likely to file a claim if they do bust up their Ankle, tear a AC or blow out a shoulder when they're in the Studio, because they do this every day, they believe in what they are doing and they understand that accidents happen and that they have some responsibility for their own actions and their own decisions to push themselves a little harder and to be there in the first place.

But you, we actually kind of, you don't see claims from the folks that are there all the time that are into it, they will suck it up as you put it and take this on as their own responsibility. You know I've been working out my own life, I, you know, I know you, it's my own fault for falling of the treadmill, or it's my own fault for putting too much weight on the stack, or it's my own fault for striking my Ankle on the wrong way.

John Graden: I remember telling my Students very early and consistently pain is part of the training.  This is not ballet class.  I remember again hitting a target and I missed it and I hit the guy in the wrist, blasted it, he was an Engineer with NASA and he was a Hungarian Guy.  I said, “I a’m sorry”.  He said, “It's okay Sir, pain is part of the training.”  It was just like he had been programmed, it was perfect.

Jennifer Urmston: Well and I also believe that are society has become more litigious and also people's and yes, that's true and people's medical Insurance is not "as good", quote, unquote, they have higher out of pocket maximums and they have higher deductibles and you know, if they don't have the money in the bank, they've got to come looking for it, when ten or fifteen years ago, with lower deductibles, lower out of pocket maximums they might never have come looking for their medical bills to be paid.

John Graden: That is such a great point.  Deductibles are so high, that Insurance, health Insurance, really is becoming almost catastrophic Insurance because you have to pay so much just to the get to the point where it kicks in.

Jennifer Urmston: That's right and the cost of an MRI versus the cost of an X-Ray, how much can people come out of pocket, thousands of dollars versus hundreds of dollars, so these are the reasons, Insurance rates, you know,  have gone up and these are the reasons we have more law suits filed, is because it is less affordable to pay for big injuries yourself, so people come looking for, you know the other party, when they might not have in the past.

John Graden: So the final thing I want to ask you about in terms of waivers and we'll do this real briefly, but we're seeing a little bit of - Do It Yourself Insurance-  where they essentially provide you with all the forms that they would be filling out, but they have you fill it out instead, you submit it and you save a lot of money on the Insurance, but I think it's a bit of a role of the dice as to whether or not you're really going to be protected.

Jennifer Urmston: Do you mean with creating the waivers with online programs?

John Graden: The waivers and filling out the applications etc., there's some Insurances are putting it more and more on the Client, the insured I guess so to say, the more that they do and save time for the Insurance Company the lower the Insurance Company is going to charge, so less they're going to charge, so we're seeing some Do It Yourself Insurance programs out there and if this is not something that you are familiar with, we can certainly put this off to another time.

Jennifer Urmston: Well no I think what you're saying makes sense, you always, always, want to work with an Insurance programs that has a speciality in sports and fitness and martial arts, because all those different coverages that you need, your professional liability coverage, the medical payments coverage, not having an exclusion for athletic participants, those things that are specialized to what we do are going to be there on a policy from a program that specializes in this and they may not be there on the other programs, you have to be able to get a live person on the phone also and ask a question when you have one.

And so it’s important to work with a Company that, there may be an electronic application that's easy to use, but there's also a live human being that's is going to take a look at your application and call you with questions and that you'll have that person as your contact, to call as your agent and ask questions when you have questions and so Customer Service is important but primarily making sure you're working with an Insurance program that is specialized and tailored to what you do.

John Graden: Got it and I think what really brings this up is that we're seeing Companies that were you go on and you almost design your own waiver, digital waiver that gets submitted and approved and that's the way we are going to use, based upon our discussion, even waivers that are professionally designed by teams of attorneys still sometimes, don't hold up so, it's probably best to go ahead and spend a little bit more and make sure it's done right from the beginning.

Jennifer Urmston:  And make sure that you're keeping the documentation yourself, that you have it, that's right.

John Graden: In hard copy, in a safe

 

John Graden: Jennifer thanks as always, I appreciate it and I know our members do as well.  Folks if you haven't visited Sports and Fitness Insurance Corporation check out the MATA credits for becoming a client under your MATA Membership.

What Insurance a Martial Arts School Needs and How Much Does It Cost? +

John Graden:  Today, we're talking martial arts insurance. I want you to imagine this.  Business is booming, the School's doing great, Classes are packed and in fact, you've got a Class going right now.  Then this little twelve year old girl, she's excited, she turns, she bolts off to go to the Water Fountain.  Just as she hits full stride, your sixteen or seventeen year old, hot-shot, Leadership Team Member's, demonstrating a full speed, full power, Spinning Hook Kick.  Just as she hits full speed - Bang! - right in the Face, full power, full velocity, she drops, everything changes in many lives, at that particular moment. That's a scary thought, that's exactly what happened to a prominent School in the North East of the United States, over ten years ago. I'm not going to name the Guy and the nice thing is, he is still in Business and doing well.  Why?  Because he was protected, he was prepared, he was - insured.  Could you have handled a situation like that?  What would you been able to do, what could you have done?  She required complete facial reconstruction and I don't know for sure, but I imagine in today's world, the Parents would continue the Law Suits, for some time, for Mental Anguish and all kinds of Actions in today's Legal Menu.  Here to help us wade through this mess of a situation is Jennifer Urmston, from Sports and Fitness Insurance and Jennifer's a Veteran of the Sports and Martial Arts Fitness and Insurance Arena. So, Jennifer, what is this Guy facing in this situation.

Jennifer Urmston:  Well, even in a best case scenario, anytime there's an injury on your Premises, whether it's minor or severe, the Owner of that facilitate is facing the Medical Payments, that are going to come about because of the direct injuries to the Party.  So, this little Girl, that was hit in the Face, is going to have significant amounts of Medical Bills, that are going to need to be paid, for Plastic Surgery, reconstruction, it sounds like.  On top of that, there could be a claim like you indicated. from the Family, for pain and suffering, or there could be a Law Suit filed, claiming that there wasn't proper supervision in the Classroom and they want some kind of punitive damages.  So, a significant claim to a Child, can easily result in a Law Suit, by the Family. There could be up to, one hundred thousand dollars of medical bills, for reconstructive work, numerous MRI's, in and out of the Hospital.  There could also be a Law Suit for, you know, half a million dollars, a million dollars, because it was a Child, that went through pain and suffering.

John Graden:  How often do you hear of stories, like this, or give us some instances of what are, the range of stories that you typically encounter and that you Guy's deal with?

Jennifer Urmston:  The two most common ones that I can tell you about, are what you're talking about - which is the inadvertent injury due to an exhibition of an actual Martial Arts move.  The second would be falling, in particular, falling backwards and what other items are in that space that, that the person could fall onto.  We've had numerous claims over the years, in Martial Arts facilities, where someone falls backwards and hits their head on some kind of metal object - be it furniture, a hook on the wall, equipment.  So being aware of the flooring in the area and how much space the participants have when they're sparring and when they're learning. Because trip and fall, is, it can be common and it can be dangerous, if the person hits their head on something hard.

John Graden:  You know, it's really interesting, that when I was a Student in the seventies, it was the blood and guts, era.  I really would line the Class up, a bunch of kids, and say - "Okay, my goal today is to make you all cry."  And I would get everyone of them, move on to cry.  I mean the Parents, rather than sue me, they would just get up and go for long walks, because they knew I was helping their Kids become stronger.  But in today's world, it's, it's really different and it’s interesting that you say, that falling is a major issue, because Martial Arts Schools, spend lots of time on falling, but it's not the controlled front roll, or break fall that we teach, it is the accidental slip and they hit their head on a Chair, and stuff of that nature.  So, that's certainly something to look for.  What about sparring?  A lot of School's are moving away from sparring.  I don't think, so much about liability as much as - I think Students are getting softer today - that's just my theory.  So, what about sparring, equipment, size - relative to I've got a large Guy against a small Guy - skill levels, things are that nature that would weigh in to a potential law-suit.

Jennifer Urmston:  Well you want to make sure that every facility, regardless of the age and size of your sparring partners, you want specific sparring rules, in writing, that the members are signing off on.   You want to make sure those sparring rules are adhered to, so that everyone knows the rules, before they start participating.  You want to designate what the safety equipment is that you're using, everyone signs off on what safety equipment is appropriate.  So, if the two parties, coming into this activity together, have both agreed to the rules and the use of appropriate equipment and the Owner or Instructor in the facility are making sure that everyone's participating and that it's not a hap-hazard application of the rules, then you have documentation.  If someone gets hurt, they knew what the rule's where, they knew what the safety equipment was, they knew there was some risk of injury and you're signing those waivers.  So, when we're underwriting, that's what we look for.

John Graden:  I'm thinking about instances, that would easily, arguably be, outside of that.  For instance, it's very common, even our Self Defence Classes, to do two on one sparring - where you're actually sparring two people, three people - for some times a test, we'll just throw four and five people at the Student.  Obviously, you can be sued for anything, but I'm thinking, I have been sued.  It's a nightmare.  It goes on forever, it's something you wake up with every morning and you go to bed with every night and every waking moment, lying in that Bed, that's what on your mind.  And it goes on, for years and years and years, as it slowly sucks the life out of your financial world.  So, I'm trying to help these Guys understand, that they may have a waiver, they may have safety gear, but there are some things in the peripheral of what we do, in sparring, in self-defence, that could be attacked, if someone's hurt.  So, let’s talk about something like, multiple sparring.  A requirement, hypothetically, for Green Belt is you have to spar, if you want to get your Blue Belt, your Brown Belt - definitely your Black Belt - you have to spar and to a degree, defeat, two, three, four or more opponents.  Would that be covered in most cases, just under the injury waiver for sparring?

Jennifer Urmston:  What you want, all of your participants, each person in that Group of four or however many people are out there on the mat together sparring.  You want them all to have signed a waiver, that they understand, that are involved in the activities that they are participating in - it could be one on three, it would be one on two, it could be one on four - and that they're aware of that and that they can ask for additional information if they need it and they need to sign that they're aware of it.  That is the best  [Inaudible between 00:07:27.24 and 00:07:28.21 – best guess - and thing you can ] do for yourself as the Instructor or for any of those participants to protect themselves, from any other participant, is that if everyone is an consenting Adult in those situations, as they've signed off on it, or if you have minors, that the minor and the Parents have signed off on it.  And I encourage, you know, in any of these riskier activities, to get both Parents signatures, instead of just one, whenever possible, that's the best thing that you can do to protect yourself, is education and getting signed releases.  So, you know, disclose as much as possible and get them to sign it.

John Graden:  In today's world, with splintered families, that gets all the more difficult, so it's really is something that requires focus.  What about the unseen, left hook, that many people get knocked out from, in the ring?  That's take that into the world of liability. What is a major surprise, that can really knock a School on it's rear?

Jennifer Urmston:  Well I think the biggest surprise is that we had a School just in the past eighteen months, is a Child getting in a Class that had a significant medical condition, had been released from the hospital, the Doctor had said -"This Child should be at home, at rest." and the Mother went ahead and brought the Child to the School for his lesson.  And the Child actually died on the Premises.  Of course, the Martial Arts Instructors, of course they felt horrible - they're hearts were broken - there was nothing they could have done.  They didn't know.  And again, these are reasons why it is so important to get the Parents to sign off on these waivers.  That the Parents are responsible for making sure the Children are in condition to come.  You could have had a Doctor's release at the beginning of your Class six months ago, and they had a concussion from playing Football at School, came to your lesson without telling you they had a concussion. But I would encourage your medical releases for Minor's who are participating.  You know, you're making sure you're getting a Parental Approval for participation, or at least that the Parent's acknowledge that this Child has approval for participation on all of those.

John Graden:  So, in a sense then, the waiver has to say something to the degree that - it's the Parents responsibility to bring any changes in the physical...

Jennifer Urmston:  Yes, I would say health or readiness.

John Graden:  Health or readiness.  Because in a scenario likes this, the Kid falls out of a Tree, hypothetically, goes to the Hospital, the Doc, says, you know, stay off your feet for six months and that the Parent maybe things that Martial Arts is the best thing possible for the Kid

Jennifer Urmston:  And brings him in

John Graden:  Yeah, that's just awful, okay.

Jennifer Urmston:  There's also a big, there's a lot of, there's a lot of cautionary activity going on right now around concussions.  That. you know, if your Child has a concussion from any activity, whether Sports related or not, please advise our Staff immediately.

John Graden:  Fantastic, alright, well Jennifer, please tell us about Sport's Fitness Insurance Corporation, and how our members can get in touch with you and find out more.

Jennifer Urmston:  Well Sports and Fitness Insurance Corporation is celebrating our 30th year, serving the Sports and Fitness Industry, we've been working with Martial Arts Studios for almost all of those thirty years.  We are dedicated to Sports and Fitness. We are dedicated to helping you, run a more efficient Business and staying in Business, fighting claims for you, so that you're out there, helping people and helping Kids, all be better and stronger Citizens.  So please reach out to Sports and Fitness Insurance, we're www.sportsfitnesss.com the direct line for my Office is - 8882768392 and Anthony Hicks, works with me as our Underwriter.  My name jenniferurmston@sportsfitness.com you are welcome to reach out to me directly with any questions, at any time, we're a resource for you as a partner with MATA.

Can Martial Arts School Insurance Save You From This? +

Your class is packed. The school is booming. In the midst of all of the excitement, a 12-year student turns and run across the floor to the water fountain.

As she hits full stride, a 17-year old leadership team member demonstrates a full speed spin hook kick. At full power and velocity, his heel smashes into her face. She requires complete facial reconstructive surgery.

What would you do? What could you do? This accident happened over a decade ago to a school in the DC area.

It’s a prominent school, and it’s still in business today because it was fully insured. Are you? Could your school survive an incident like this?

To help school owners get a better understanding of liability and how to reduce it, we’re joined by Jennifer Urmston, who is the National Account Manager at Sports and Fitness Insurance Corporation (SFIC).

Most schools shop for the cheapest martial arts insurance. That could be a major disaster if a school is faced with any of the lawsuits described in this 12-minute interview. When it comes to martial arts school insurance cost, there are some important variables that you will learn about in this series.

Most of us think about insurance for our martial arts school, but what about martial arts instructor insurance? Mixed martial arts insurance or even self-defense instructor insurance?

Martial Arts Insurance: Background Screening +

Background screening is inexpensive. It has to be part of your school liability insurance reduction strategy. You can get a full screening for around $25. This is an important point. If screening is so cheap and easy, as a martial arts school owner,  you have no excuse for not getting it done.

In other words, if you're sued for the actions of a staff member with a record, you have no defense. You could have easily discovered his/her past and prevented the incident from occurring.

It is critical that you understand who you are hiring, and who will be representing your school to every student and prospective student.

The background screening industry is regulated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and all firms are required to adhere to rigorous standards ensuring privacy of individual’s information.

When employees ask why these screenings are required, it’s important to emphasize that a screening does not mean suspicion, nor does submitting to a screening impact a person’s credit score. Having a fully screened staff provides your students and families with peace of mind.

MATA recommends the background screening services of E-Verify.

The Insurance Needs for the Average Martial Arts School +

Here are the Liability and Property Coverages provided by MATA's Official Insurance Provider, Sports & Fitness Insurance Corporation.

Martial Arts Liability Insurance Coverage

  • $2,000,000* Each Occurrence, Includes Professional Liability
  • $4,000,000* General Aggregate
  • $2,000,000* Personal and Advertising Injury Limit
  • $2,000,000* Fire Damage Limit – any one fire
  • $1,000,000* Abuse or Molesation Defense Cost – per occurrence
  • $10,000 Medical Expense – including participants

*Lower limits available.
*Umbrellas are available if SFIC writes the underlying GL.

Coverage provided under this program includes:

Commercial General Liability:  Provides premises protection for any claims arising from the facilities you own, rent or occupy. You are indemnified for alleged negligence resulting in bodily injury, property damage or personal injury.

Professional Liability:  Protects you against bodily injury to a client resulting from a failure to render “professional services,” defined as “the providing of physical training, fitness counseling and nutritional counseling for a fee.”

Personal Injury:  Protects against suits involving libel, slander and wrongful invasion of privacy.

Advertising Injury:  Protects against claims arising out of misappropriation of advertising ideas such as the infringement of copyright on titles or slogans committed in the course of advertising your services.

Limited Cyber Liability:  Provides Personal and Advertising Injury coverage for incidents that result from an unauthorized person hacking into your computer network or website.

Abuse or Molestation: Pays to defend insured against allegations of sexual misconduct.

Medical Payments: Reimburses a third party for medical expenses incurred as a result of bodily injury. Unlike most GL policies, our policy includes coverage for Athletic Participants.

Martial Arts Property Insurance Coverage

  • These coverages are available under our optional Optimum Property Coverage form.
  • Property of others in your care, custody, and control:
    Included in Business Personal Property Definition
  • Building Plate Glass:
    Included in Business Personal Property Definition
  • Outdoor signs, attached and detached:
    Included in Building Definition
  • Outdoor signs, attached and detached, if no building coverage:
    $50,000 for owned signs or signs for which the insured has contractual responsibility due to lease.
  • Sewer, Drain, Sump Back-up (other than flood):
    $50,000/premises (direct damage and lost income)
  • Equipment Breakdown:
    Optional
What May and May NOT be Covered by Martial Arts Insurance +

The landscape for the martial arts business has changed drastically over the past few decades. What used to be referred to as a martial arts school is now often referred to as a gym.

Just like the rules for what is martial arts have changed, so has the insurance coverage for martial arts schools or more specifically, martial arts programs.

As an example, your karate school with 200 kids may be covered by liability insurance. However, the same school may offer an MMA class that is NOT covered.

To help you make sure you have the right liability insurance coverage, here is a sampling of what May or May Not be covered by your insurance company.

What programs are usually covered by martial arts school insurance?

  • Karate Schools
  • Kung Fu
  • Aikido
  • Tae Kwon Do
  • Fitness Kickboxing
  • Fitness Boxing
  • Judo
  • Jiu Jitsu
  • Self-Defense (with fake weapons)

What programs are may not be covered by martial arts school insurance?

  • Any program with Live Bladed Weapons
  • Any program with Firearms
  • Concealed Firearm Classes
  • Full Contact Kick Boxing
  • Full Contact Boxing
  • Mixed Martial Arts
  • Submission Fighting
  • Cage Fighting (Just having a cage in your school can disqualify you)
How to Choose a Martial Arts Insurance Company +

When shopping for martial arts insurance, ask the following questions:

  • What is the annual premium?  If you teach part time, find out if there are part time premium rates.
  • If you own a martial arts studio, does the policy cover the entire studio or just you as a martial arts teacher?
  • Does the policy cover martial arts teachers-in-training such as Leadership Teammembers?
  • Does the policy cover your employees?
  • Does the policy cover independent contractors working at your martial arts studio?
  • What is the maximum amount of coverage per claim?
  • What is aggregate annual claim coverage?
  • Are you, as a martial arts teacher, covered outside the country where you teach?  This could be relevant if you teach seminars or at a conference, etc.
  • Is there a maximum number of students per class that you can teach?  If so, how many and can you get additional coverage (if you class size exceeds the stipulated number of students)
  • Does the martial arts insurance policy cover your style of martial arts?  What if you host an event at your studio where other types of martial arts are practiced?  Be very specific about this inquiry.  Sometimes, aerial, tricking, and acrobatic martial arts styles are excluded.  The point is to ensure all your services and classes are covered.
  • Is the use of martial arts equipment covered?
  • Specifically, does the martial arts insurance policy cover:
    • Professional liability?
    • Advertising liability (libel, slander, copyright infringement, etc.)?
    • Personal injury liability?
    • Product liability?
    • Premises liability?
    • Property damage?
    • Sexual harassment / abuse / assault (if covered, usually coverage amounts are lower).
  • What is the deductible amount, if any?
  • Does the martial arts insurance policy include payment for legal fees if a lawsuit ensues?
  • How soon must you report a claim?  Know the answer because some insurance policies may breach you and therefore not cover you if you delay too long in reporting a claim.  Typically you must report as soon as you suspect there may be a claim.
  • Are there any notable exclusions?  Read the exclusions section of the policy carefully.
What Every Owner Must Know About Insurance for Martial Arts Schools +

It seems we're always seeing news headlines of child molestations, guest instructor negligence, and even murder in the martial arts. Though each incident carries potentially millions of dollars in liability, in many cases, the owner was not present when the incident happened yet he or she could lose everything personally and professionally without solid insurance coverage.

What Kind of Martial Arts School Insurance Coverage Do I Need?

What kind of insurance you'll need will depend on what you do. If you have a children's based school with little no contact, you requirements would significantly different than an MMA school with a cage and lots of sparring.

A good place to start is understanding the different claims you can be liable for. The first distinction is whether the claim is personl or property related.  It is critical that Martial Arts School owners protect themselves with appropriate and sufficient insurance.

Liability Claims

Liability claims can come from injuries to students or sexual assault and abuse claims made by minors and adult students alike.

Property Claims

Property claims can come from fire or lightning or a car driving through the glass front of a martial arts school. All of these claims and more can lead to lawsuits or repair bills that can destroy a business.

General Liability Insurance (Must Have!)

All Martial Arts Schools should carry General Liability insurance that includes Professional Liability coverage to protect themselves from claims including lawsuits.

Premises Liability Claims range from simple slip and fall injuries to minor or more severe injuries. All martial arts schools have premises exposures related to students and guests coming into their owned or leased space. This includes walking through the parking lot, over the sidewalk, across the threshold, into the dojo, as well as, participation in classes, belt testing, and competitions.

Professional Liability Coverage protects the owners and employees of the martial arts school from claims related to the instruction that they do or do not provide to their students or guests.

Products And Completed Operations coverage protects the school from claims related to items that they sell.

Personal and Advertising Injury coverage protects the school from claims related to use of trademarked or personal information or photos in verbal, print or electronic media.

Sexual Abuse and Molestation coverage protects a martial school from losses related to physical and verbal acts of abuse and can be claimed by minors and adults alike.

Hired and NonOwned Auto coverage provides coverage for the school when an employee uses a personal or hired vehicle in the course of the school’s operation.

Standard Liability Insurance Limits 

Standard liability limits for martial arts schools in today’s world are one of the following: $1,000,000 per occurrence (single claim) and either $2,000,000 or $3,000,000 annual aggregate (total of all claims in a given year) or $2,000,000 per occurrence and $4,000,000 aggregate. Higher limits are available through purchasing an Umbrella or Excess Liability policy.

When a school leases their space, the landlord typically requires a certain liability limit per occurrence that the tenant must meet or negotiate. The lease generally determined the liability limit of coverage selected. The individual assets of the martial school and owner(s) should also be considered when selecting sufficient liability limits.

Martial Arts Schools Need Property Insurance

Nearly all martial arts schools have some equipment and other contents that need to be insured under a Commercial Property insurance policy.

When you are renting, any tenant’s improvements such as HVAC, mirrors, glass and sign coverage are typically insured by the tenant and should be included in the school’s Commercial Property policy’s limits as well.

Coverage for Loss of Income, also called Business Income replaces lost income when a school suffers a covered property loss and has to be fully or partially closed during the period of restoration.

It is common practice for a leased school to purchase three to four months of business income coverage.

Workers Compensation Insurance 

Any martial arts school with regularly employed full-time or part-time staff will also be required to carry Worker’s Compensation Insurance in most states. Annual payroll is used to calculate Workers Comp premiums.

A business can be fined by the State for not carrying mandatory workers compensation insurance. Worker’s compensation pays medical bills and lost work time for employees and contractors injured on the job and is important protection for all martial arts schools with staff other than the owner(s). Owners and officers are not required to pay workers comp premiums on their own payroll in most states.

Individual Martial Arts and Self Defense Instructors

Martial Arts and Self Defense Instructors teaching seminars and classes can purchase individual Professional Liability policies that cover them if they work as independent contractors in other people’s schools or facilities.

Individual Instructors should request the same liability limits as the facility where they are working.

A Martial Arts school should require all of their independent contractors to show proof of this coverage before allowing the contractor to work inside their facility.

Direct employees are covered under the facility’s General Liability policy for their professional liability exposure but independent contractors are usually not covered.

What To Do Right Now

Review your insurance exposures and coverage each year and never let the school’s insurance lapse. It is also very important to work with an insurance provider who has an understanding of martial arts, as well as, the specific operation and needs of a school.

Sports and Fitness Insurance Corporation is the Official Insurance Provider for the Martial Arts Teachers’ Association.

Martial Arts School Insurance-Woman Awarded $980,000 +

WOMAN AWARDED $980,000 FOR GYM INJURY

A State Supreme Court jury has awarded $980,000 to a woman for her pain and suffering after discs in her neck were damaged during a workout at a local gym.

The total award was $1.4 million, including $400,000 for past pain and suffering and $1 million for future pain and suffering. The woman was found 30% responsible for the damage, leaving the gym to absorb 70% of the award.

The woman’s attorney said that after his client underwent a cervical fusion to remove degenerated discs in her neck, doctors instructed her to stay fit and active to help avoid any future neck issues.  She hired a personal trainer at the gym after explaining her surgical history and restrictions.

The trainer designed a workout that involved a series of three strenuous exercises performed back to back with no rest, said the attorney. His client questioned the workout, and the trainer assured her it was safe.

The woman awoke that night in excruciating pain and has never recovered, claiming the workout caused permanent damage to the discs above and below the original fusion, requiring an additional fusion as well as the installation of a titanium plate and titanium rods.

The woman’s surgeon testified that there is no surgery available to address all of the damage caused by the workout or to relieve all of her pain.  As a result, the attorney said, she will have headaches, chronic pain in her neck and radiating arm pain for the rest of her life as well as severe and permanent restrictions on the range of motion in her neck.

SFIC INSURANCE EXPERT COMMENTS…

The claim outlined in the attached article is a professional liability claim based on the professional services rendered by the personal trainer. All independent trainers need to carry their own professional liability policy to protect themselves from these types of claims and all fitness facilities need to make sure that their policies carry full limits for professional liability.

If you employ independent contractors in your studio, they must carry their own insurance and name your facility as additional insured. You should also verify that your trainers are certified by a reputable licensing body and are current with their continuing education requirements.

This claim is severe because of a pre-existing condition and question of the appropriateness of the workout to the client’s medical history. In your facility, you set the rules for how your trainers should work with clients that have pre-existing conditions and how they should respond if a client expresses concerns about the safety or appropriateness of a workout. Make sure all your trainers follow your guidelines even if some (or all) of your trainers are independent.

Martial Arts Insurance Company Interviews

Martial Arts School Insurance–Reducing Liability – Sexual Misconduct

Martial Arts School Insurance–What Insurance Coverage Your Martial Arts School Needs.

Martial Arts School Insurance–An Important Distinction in Coverage. Claims based vs Occurrence based.

Martial Arts School Insurance–Two Major Lawsuits Filed Against Martial Arts Schools

Martial Arts School Insurance–Getting Sued 15-Years Later

Martial Arts School Insurance–Instructor Loses it and KOs Kid

Martial Arts School Insurance–Special Insurance Considerations for Guest Instructors

Martial Arts School Insurance–Special Events Martial Arts Liability Coverage

Martial Arts School Insurance Video–Summer Camp and After-School Liability Coverage

Martial Arts School Insurance Video–Insurance Coverage For Holiday Events At Your School.

Martial Arts School Insurance–Do Insurance Liability Waivers Still Work?

Martial Arts School Insurance–Martial Arts School Insurance Coverage Overview

With SFIC, you'll be in good company.

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self defense insurance
self defense insurance

The Coverage You Need, At the Rates You Can Afford

The Best Rates and the Best Coverage.

Any training accident or disgruntled student can turn into a lawsuit when you least expect it. Get the liability coverage you need from a company that’s been protecting professionals like you for the last 30 years.

Insurance for Martial Arts Schools and Instructors

Customized General Liability Insurance designed for martial arts schools of all disciplines and all sizes.

Best Prices In the Industry

Licensed in all 50 States and Canada, the SFIC/MATA program offers you the best rates for your customized program.

The Coverage You Need, At the Rates You Can Afford

When it comes to protecting yourself and your school, proper martial arts insurance coverage must be one of your top priorities.

Get a Free Insurance Review
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Get a free consultation and review of your insurance needs.

When you click on the link your email message will be sent to Cathy Young Potter at 800.844.0536 Ext. 2250 cypotter@sportsfitness.com

and you’ll be taken to the SFIC Martial Arts Insurance Page. Thanks for your interest.

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