As a Pilates instructor, you work closely with the clients you serve to help them find their limitations and safely surpass them. But no matter how cautious you may be, if your client fails to fully communicate a health condition or limitation, he could suffer a serious injury due to a Pilates routine. Likewise, if your Pilates instruction depends on the use of Pilates equipment, you run a constant risk of product malfunction, which could result in injury to you or your client. If you are sued over a client's Pilates-related injury or fatality, you could lose assets, savings, future earnings, and your business. Even if you are not at fault, the cost of your legal defense alone can be devastating. You can protect your financial well being with Pilates insurance.
The Pilates and Yoga Industry Is Booming
- Pilates and yoga instruction brings in $7 billion per year
- By 2016, revenue from Pilates and yoga is expected to reach $8.3 billion
- There are more than 103,000 Pilates and yoga instructors working in 24,000 businesses in the U.S. alone
- Experts predict baby boomers and men will drive the growth in clientele over the next five years
With no end to industry growth in sight, this is an ideal time to start a Pilates practice. If you started your business recently, now is the best time to purchase Pilates insurance.
Pilates Equipment Poses Extra Risks
If you use Pilates equipment such as a trapeze table, Wunda Chair, or The Reformer, your risks of client injury and litigation increase. All it takes is a second of inattention, a loose spring, or an improperly secured safety chain for an accident to happen.
Clients can sustain broken toes, facial injuries, and back injuries as a result of equipment failure. Sometimes the problem is a simple case of too much too soon, and the instructor fails to recognize the client's limitations. Other times, the product malfunctions despite your best efforts. No matter who is at fault, if you are the supervising instructor when an accident occurs, you could be financially responsible.
A liability insurance package for equipment-based Pilates instructors may include the following coverage:
- Professional liability for equipment-based Pilates: This provides financial protection if a client makes a malpractice claim against you for an injury suffered during practice. If you fail to secure a safety device, or if you accidentally push a client past her limits, your professional liability coverage would pay the plaintiff's medical expenses, court-ordered damages, and any other charges outlined in your settlement. It would also cover your legal defense, which can be the greatest expense of all. Liability coverage stops at the limits of your policy, so it is important to make sure you have enough coverage to manage your risks.
- Products liability: If a machine suddenly breaks under tension and a client is hurt, you could face litigation, even if the problem is due to faulty manufacturing. Products liability would protect you from the costs of a lawsuit related to product failure, up to the limits of your policy.
- Sexual abuse insurance: If one of your clients accuses you of sexual misconduct before, during, or after Pilates practice, sexual abuse insurance pays your legal defense, up to a certain limit: usually $100,000 per case.
May instructors fail to recognize the risk of litigation until it is too late, so be sure to purchase enough liability coverage for your practice, before an incident occurs.
Pilates Insurance for Strictly Mat Pilates
Even if you take a purist approach to Pilates with no more equipment than a mat on the floor, you are not immune to litigation. In spite of your best efforts to stay on top of your clients' medical conditions and limitations, some of your clientele may not be completely honest about health. For instance, a regular female client might fail to report that she is now pregnant, or a male client may be reluctant to admit he suffers from a heart problem.
No matter how careful you may be in your dealings with the people you teach, you could still face a lawsuit if a client suffers an injury as a result of Pilates practice.
These are the types of Pilates insurance that can protect you financially if an accident occurs:
- Professional liability for mat-based Pilates instructors: This includes malpractice coverage, which protects you financially if a client sustains injury due to a mistake in instruction. It also includes coverage for a suit that results from an aggravation of a pre-existing injury or medical condition. Your liability coverage provides for the client's medical expenses, settlement costs, and your legal defense, up to the limits of your policy.
- Sexual abuse insurance: This pays your legal defense, up to a specified limit, if a client accuses you of sexual misconduct during practice.
- Products liability: If you sell or use equipment or products in your Pilates business, you could be liable for any injury the products cause. Faulty product lawsuits can reach all the way from manufacturer to seller, so be sure you have enough coverage for the products you sell or use.
A member agent can discuss the types of clients you serve and the products you use so that you can be sure you have the right coverage for your practice. Most mat-based Pilates insurance policies are portable, meaning that they can protect you whether you teach in your home, at a spa or gym, or in the client's home or workplace.
What if You Work for a Gym, Clinic, or Spa?
If you receive a paycheck from a gym, spa, or other business for your Pilates instruction services, you may have some degree of liability coverage through your employer. However, it is very important to make sure that the coverage protects your personal finances, and not just the business that employs you. If you are sued, and your employer's coverage is insufficient to protect you, you could lose your savings, assets, and future earnings.
You can usually find Pilates instructor insurance for less than $200 per year, so it often pays to carry your own coverage, even if your employer provides some level of liability insurance through a corporate policy.
Get Pilates Insurance that Fits Your Practice
The cost of Pilates insurance is low, often only $150 per year. When you compare that to the millions you could lose in a major lawsuit, a Pilates insurance policy is usually a wise investment.
Of course, there are a few people you can consult with before you purchase your coverage to make sure this insurance is going to be beneficial for you:
- Lawyers - You need to have the right legal protection in place, and insurance can help with that. A lawyer can help you evaluate your risks and the coverage you're considering before you buy.
- Accountants - CPAs and CFPs can be a great help to you. They understand the financial worth of your organization, and may also currently be handling your finances. These professionals can help you budget for coverage.
- Insurance agents - Whether you chose a captive agent from a big brand company or an independent agent, just make sure that this important person has a clear idea of the company you're running and the risks you face. In the end, it's going to be your responsibility to get a few quotes from different sources before you buy, and evaluate the reputation and quality of the insurer you choose.
When you've done the proper research, you can get peace of mind that your policy is the best it can be for the wellbeing of your organization and your bottom line.