End of the Year To-Dos for Your Martial Arts Website

Here are some last-minute to-dos.

  1. Check your website’s SSL status. SSL give visitors confidence that your site can be trusted.
    You can check it here. https://www.digicert.com/help/
  2. You can renew it here: https://pxlme.me/mifIY0xW
  3. Claim and optimize your Google My Business site. This is SUPER IMPORTANT! Go to Google.com/business
  4. Find out if you are in the Google 3-pack. (Google lists local searches with a featured 3-pack. These are displayed after paid ads and before organic results. This is the MOST VALUABLE real estate on a local search)

a. Open a private or incognito browser window.

b. Google “Martial arts in your town.”

c. See if you’re in the 3 pack.

If you need help with any of these projects MATA can help. Our MATA websites are beautiful and professional looking. They make a great impression.

 

MATA Annual Martial Arts School Business Report 2018: Trump-onomics and Your Martial Arts School

MATA Annual Martial Arts School Business Report 2018: Trump-onomics and Your Martial Arts School

According to CNBC, under President Trump, “the economy has achieved feats most experts thought impossible. GDP is growing at a 3 percent-plus rate and the unemployment rate is near a 50-year low.”

In addition, his tax cuts should help martial arts schools that are set up as S-corporations or LLCs as you will see a significant corporate tax cut with the rate dropping from 35% to 21%.  Here is a calculator to see how it may affect your business.

Each year, we look at the number of martial arts schools listed on InfoUSA.com. Since we started this in 2013, we’ve seen a steady decline in the number of martial arts schools in the USA. This year, however, we’ve seen a modest increase.

2013: 20,234
2016: 15,896 – 4,338
2017: 14,901 – 995
2018: 15,157 + 256

What’s also very interesting is that, according to Sports and Fitness Insurance Corp (SFIC) National Accounts Director, Jennifer Urmston, applications for martial arts schools is steady but not growing while applications for self-defense schools has increased significantly. Specifically, request for coverage of active shooter training has created a new market.

In fact, last week, I was asked to submit a proposal to train a Jewish Family organization with 500 employees and 10 locations in active shooter response. The proposal was for nearly $20,000. Thank you COBRA-Defense!

So how was business in 2018? Please comment and share your experience.

Self-Defense Instructor Insurance Considerations

Self-Defense Instructor Insurance Considerations


John Graden: There is such a huge increase in the number of people either offering a reality-based self-defense system like COBRA-Defense in addition to the martial arts program or I’m seeing lots of guys that are stepping away from their school or away from their current full-time job in the mainstream world and opening their own COBRA-Defense self-defense center where that becomes the central curriculum. And also guys that don’t have a facility and go out there and teach COBRA or reality self-defense in kind of a seminar by seminar basis if they need a place they’ll run out a rec center or a local dance school but they don’t have a real facility for themselves so this is a new dynamic reality of defenses somewhat separated because it is so different. What kind of insurance considerations should have an instructor investigate in choosing to do self-defense as either a primary or part-time extension of the business?

Jennifer Urmston: Well thank you for bringing the topic up because it is really important that we help these the self-defense instructors and or COBRA-Defense instructors have the right coverage for their business. So first of all, I think the word business is important. You know incorporating as a business in whatever form your accountant recommends is best for you is important to have a legal entity. That way when you are ready you’re leasing space or whether you’re having clients come into your own space and sign a waiver.

There is a legal entity. You as the owner are covered just like a legal entity when you have an insurance policy. But it is important to have a legal entity when you start setting up a new business. If you’re incorporating that self-defense business into your existing martial arts school that can usually be written on the same policy that you already have for your school. Just you know let us know that you’re doing that and you know it is not going to increase the cost of your martial arts schools insurance significantly.

Any changes to your operation you should let your insurance agent know especially if you’re incorporating under a different legal entities name for those who want to add that legal entity to your policy. So any time you have a change in your operations and you’re doing something really new in the martial arts school what your insurance agent know. And make sure there’s no issue with coverage and it or that needs to be added as a legal entity under your policy.

If you’re opening a COBRA defense facility then that will need to have its own coverage that will include the premises liability for the facility as well as the professional liability for teaching or self-defense classes in any other classes that you might teach inside that facility.

So that would, of course, need to be incorporated legally and you would need to have waivers for people coming into that facility and taking classes and you need the professional ability for your teachers.

If you are going out on your own and you’re renting a room at a hotel to have a conference or you’re going into a corporation to teach, or you’re going into a school to teach. That’s still a legal entity. If you don’t have a facility and you’re using other people’s premises, you’re probably going to be asked by the owner to provide proof that you have insurance.

You are still going to be asked to show proof of insurance even if you’re just renting space or utilizing space and other people facility. But that would just be professional liability insurance for you primarily when you’re using other people’s facilities.

You still need to have some insurance in case someone trips and falls or in case the facility asks you for the proof of insurance.

If they’re coming into your facility make sure they sign a waiver. Be sure to reach out to your insurance agent any time you had a new business or you’re changing the operations of your existing business to make sure you have coverage.

John Graden: As I see this there are three categories. We have the solo instructor who rents a facility when he needs it or he goes to offices and does on-site training. Then we have the person who is opening their own self-defense facility where that’s the central curriculum. The third is the add-on to the current martial arts school.

To recap what you said, for the add-on to the martial arts school self-defense probably is not going to change the premium but it’s important it’s written as into the coverage. Next, if you’re opening your own self-defense facility essentially that’s a whole new ballgame and that you have to get premise insurance for that facility and professional liability for the people. Then there is the solo instructor. If I’m a solo instructor and I call you guys up. How do you go about determining what levels of liability in maybe even what that premium might be?

Jennifer Urmston: For someone who does not have a premise but is teaching the self-defense courses in other people’s facilities, your primary exposure is your professional life as the teacher. It’s the same as someone who goes and gives lectures and teaches courses at anything from a trade show to corporations to schools. Your primary exposure is the professional liability for the things you’re saying. But when you’re renting out a room to use at someone else’s facility or a hotel that business is going to require you to show proof of insurance. Your insurance policy that covered you for your professional liability, that content, of what you’re teaching should also cover you for any premise exposure related to renting that room. But your premise’s exposure is going to be far less than owning your own facility where people are coming in and out of your own facility every day. So as a solo instructor without a premise that you should have a lower premium. Your premium for your professional liability is going to be based on how much money you’re making in that business. It’s going to be based on your revenue. So as a startup teaching one class here and one class where you’d be paying a lot less than if you were full time booked teaching in corporations, in schools, and renting out hotels for weekend conferences to teach. As your business grows your premium will grow with you. And it’s really the same way if you’re opening a new business if you’re opening a facility for your COBRA-Defense school, you’re going to have your premises exposure to start with when it’s your own school. But as your business grows the exposure for your professional liability of teaching those classes would grow.

I think the distinction to the martial arts world is that in martial arts schools the premiums are a little more geared towards how many people are in the school the number of students versus revenue that you just described for self-defense coverage.

The martial arts schools are very much rated based on how many students you’re teaching. That’s why you need to communicate to your agent that you’re going to start the self-defense classes but they’re not they are learning martial arts. They’re not doing the physical activity of martial arts school they’re going to bring in X amount of revenue. That’s not going to grow your premium as much as it would be bringing in many martial arts students. But again it’s important to make sure you communicated that to your agent because if you have started a martial arts program and you’re adding 50 new students to a martial arts program that’s different than bringing in 50 participants to a lecture you know on Sunday afternoons or on Monday evenings or whatever you decide to do the self-defense classes.

Just communicate to the agent so that when you come up for renewal you’re rated correctly.

John Graden: That’s good news for self-defense instructors because the difference is that in a martial arts school, the goal is to train the student for as long as possible and get them to sign for longer programs so that they can stay in the school and continue paying tuition forever and ever. However, in a self-defense program, much of the appeal is that it’s just a five-week program or a 10-week program or it’s a one hour class and then it’s over. So that’s a really good news for self-defense instructors.

What about concealed weapons self-defense coverage?

The issue with weapons is always around a real weapon versus a fake weapon. Martial arts schools are going to have exclusions on their policies for bringing in real weapons. A real gun should not come in the door of a school. You can use a fake gun or a fake sword, but you’re not going to use a live blade and you should not bring in a real gun to teach a self-defense class.

But it’s just kind of incentive for people to join and that includes that. But if you’re doing it in-house you know that consideration needs to be very clear to you.

I was at the Marriott Marquis in New York in front of a bunch of colleges a student activity representatives for about 70 to 80 schools. When we open up our active shooter seminar it starts with a paint gun machine gun that looks and sounds just like a real machine gun. And my wife screams. I fire off about 10 rounds from the gun just in the air from behind the group and the idea is to really startle them into questions like, “How many shots was that? How long did it take? Are the police here?” It’s a great way to open up the seminar. However, I had real concerns about doing this in Times Square. So I went to the event coordinator who put me in touch with security. They freaked out! They said, “We have SWAT throughout this building at all times. We have off-duty and on-duty police at all times. We have canine units at all times. We have undercover at all times. You have no idea the possibilities of what could happen if somebody interprets that as being a real gun and goes running down the hallway screaming.” So we had to improvise. But talk just a little bit about the idea of using a gun simulator like that. We typically will ask the audience to make sure that they do not have any concealed weapons. We don’t want somebody pulled a gun out and shoot me. What are the ramifications of starting with fake gunfire?

Jennifer Urmston: Well you could startle someone into having heart attack quite frankly. I mean you really would have some liability for starting an event like that. I mean you’re you’re going to be filling out an application for your insurance, you’ll telling them that there will be no real weapons.

If it startles someone into having a heart attack there would be a liability there. So you might have them in the waiver that they signed before coming to class say that we may simulate an attack. You want to get them to sign a waiver saying that they know this might occur.

Always make sure there’s not a real weapon and no projectiles but give people a chance to sign a waiver that they’re accepting what’s going to happen. And telling your facility this is going to happen at approximately such time to make sure they don’t call in the SWAT team.

John Graden: Great advice. You mentioned that you had talked to some of the COBRA owners and that you’re seeing an increase in self-defense.

Jennifer Urmston: We sure are. Absolutely. We are definitely seeing more self-self-defense specific training. It’s a newer trend still. We weren’t talking about it three years ago or four years ago. We certainly are talking about it now. So again, I always recommend a phone call or send an e-mail to inform your agent of any changes you’re making, such as COBRA. If you have a new business or any business idea, find out what your insurance cost is going to be and talk about what the coverage should be and just make a well-informed decision.

John Graden: If you’re going to call the agent, get him to confirm what you discuss in an e-mail back to you so you have it in writing. You want to make sure that there’s no question about any ambiguities in the coverage or what was actually described. Get that in writing by e-mail either the exchanges are done by e-mail or at least confirmation. “Here are that the five things you told me in our conversation”

It’s a record later of what you talked about you know. Whether it’s your business or you’re thinking about it for business, when you look back at it a month later and you come back to thinking about this new project, have it in writing it so that you can remember what was said to you. The last thing you want is to say, “I thought you said this was covered.”

Jennifer Urmston: The policy language is always going to trump whatever you’re talking about. But, if you want to make sure you’re clear about what you talk about. Especially if you’re planning to business now and it doesn’t really start for 120 days.

Also, if you think you’re going into someone else’s facility and you’ll probably need an insurance certificate.

John Graden: How does an instructor request an insurance certificate?

Jennifer Urmston: First, you have an insurance policy in place. First of all. So I have you know I have people that call all the time and say, “oh we’re teaching this class on Saturday.” And they don’t have a policy yet. So you have to fill out an application and get the quote accepted the quote and have the policy issued. And then if you have a policy in place we can issue certificates usually in 24 to 48 hours any time but you have to have the policy in place.

So if you’re going to rent a room at the Marriott Marquis to teach your class. You know they want a certificate showing them the name of your carrier, what your policy limits are and when your policies are effective. They’re going to want to be named as additional assured if you’re using their facility. And that’s all on one sheet of paper.

But in today’s world, it gets e-mailed. So it’s not a big deal to request one if you already have insurance. If you talk about insurance 90 days ago and never actually got it bound and then you all of a sudden need a certificate you can be in a tough spot. Also, there’s no additional charge for a certificate. You can teach at five different hotels between now and Christmas and get five different certificates and not have a charge.

Martial Arts Insurance: Mitigating Damages

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

 

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.

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

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

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

Interview Transcript

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.

John Graden:  Fantastic.  And of course, there's always the banner on the homepage of martialartsteachers.com.  Jennifer, thank you so much, we'll do some follow up conversations and we sure appreciate your time today, thank you.

Jennifer Urmston:  Thank you.