A beginner student called by an instructor to participate in a sword demonstration instead got an accidental blade through the eye that pierced his skull and left him blind, paralyzed and brain-damaged, according to a $9 million lawsuit filed against the teacher and his school in Oregon. Read the article
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).
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!
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?