Accidents will happen …are you covered?

Working to improve clients' and participants' fitness can be incredibly rewarding, but the physical nature of what we do also presents potential hazards to their wellbeing – and to our professional career. For peace of mind, it pays to be covered against potentially damaging claims.

Picture this: it's Wednesday evening and you're into your last session of the day. Michelle is keen to be re-tested on her 12-minute run test so you ask her to hop onto the treadmill to warm up. You start her off on a speed of 6km/hr and once the test starts, Michelle self-monitors the pace and pushes it up to 12km/hr. With one minute to go, you encourage her to empty the tank and she punches in 14.5km/hr. She suddenly yelps in pain and steps off the belt clutching at her right knee as the emergency stop cord halts the machine.

To be protected against potential legal action arising from such incidents on the gym floor, in classes or while outdoor training, personal trainers, group exercise instructors and any fitness professionals who come into contact with members and clients should have Professional Indemnity Insurance.

Although the best way to protect yourself is to be vigilant in your management of clients as they perform exercises, even the most careful trainers run the risk of clients injuring themselves during training. While many people will accept an injury for what it often is – an unfortunate accident rather than the result of neglectful behaviour – you cannot always predict how an injured party may behave, particularly if the injury has further repercussions. Someone whose injury results in time away from running their business, for example, may incur a substantial loss of income for which they may feel a need to be compensated.

With awareness of your liabilities, it's reassuring to know that you have your back covered with Professional Indemnity Insurance. As the industry's trusted source of information, education and events, Australian Fitness Network is well placed to provide this service for its members. In association with Gallagher Broking Services, and with the security of being underwritten by Lloyds of London, Network Insurance delivers the cover you need for the activities you perform in your role as a fitness professional.

For less than $100 per year, and with instant coverage as soon as you register online, Network Insurance provides convenient and affordable peace of mind. Of course, you may have some questions about the whats and whys of the insurance, so the following information should tell you everything you need to know.

What is Professional Indemnity?

Professional Indemnity Insurance covers you for claims that arise when a third party, usually a client, alleges that your professional advice, design or service as a fitness instructor or personal trainer was negligent and caused them a loss. The loss could be any or all of the following; bodily injury, property damage or financial loss. The Professional Indemnity element of your insurance covers claims that arise from a breach of the duty that you owe as a professional. The Network Insurance policy covers you for $5,000,000 of Professional Indemnity.

question What is Public Liability?

The Public Liability part of your insurance covers a claim against you for bodily injury and property damage to a third party that arise from the operation of your business as a fitness instructor or personal trainer. Public Liability, however, does not cover claims resulting from your negligence; it covers claims that arise from a breach of duty you owe to people in general. The Network Insurance policy covers you for $10,000,000 of Public Liability.

question What activities am I covered for?

answer You are covered for the activities that you are qualified to teach. If you are not qualified for the activities you are teaching, you are not covered. For example, if you are teaching Zumba classes you must have a qualification to do so.

question What do I do if I have a claim?

answer When you receive a letter of demand, you need to send a copy of the letter and all communication to do with the incident, including the incident report, to networkinsurance@ajg.com as soon as you receive the letter of demand. From there, Network Insurance will manage the claim, which means you no longer have to.

question Am I covered for conducting outdoor sessions?

answer Yes, you can conduct outdoor sessions provided that you have permission from your local council to be using the outdoor areas. Also, as an outdoor environment cannot be controlled like that in a gym, extra care needs to be taken when conducting classes or sessions outside, and participant numbers should be smaller.

With regards instructor/student ratios for outdoor sessions, common sense should prevail and you should limit class sizes to a number that can be reasonably and easily managed. This will depend on the venue, the age of participants, the experience of the trainer and the type of exercise being undertaken.

Common management principles suggest that six is the optimum number of participants in any one exercise for the best supervision and results to be achieved. Practical issues such as economics also play a part, however; numbers cannot be limited to a degree that makes the endeavour uneconomic.

question Why does Network Insurance have a common renewal date?

answer Common renewal dates are used often in the insurance industry to make everyone's life easier. It means that every year your policy will expire on the same date, which will also make your administration processes easier.

question Can I renew my policy with Network Insurance for 12 months when it falls due?

answer The Network Insurance Scheme has a renewal date of 30 September each year. Your current policy will most likely fall due for renewal on a different date, so when transferring to Network Insurance you will receive a pro-rata period of cover up to 30 September 2012 (if your policy has less than six months to run) and be charged a pro-rata premium.

question What is my Excess?

answer $250

question How can I pay for my insurance?

answer By credit card facility online.

question Will I receive any documentation?

answer Once you have applied and paid for the policy, you can instantly download a schedule of cover, a certificate of currency, a tax invoice and the policy wording if you would like to. You can then provide this to your employer, without the hassle of having to send in paperwork.

question Do I have to be registered with Fitness Australia or Kinect Australia to purchase Network Insurance?

answer No, you do not need to be registered to get covered.

question Do I have to show proof of my qualifications?

answer No, Network Insurance does not require evidence of your qualifications at the time of purchase. However, for your insurance to be valid in the event of a claim, you must be qualified for the activities that you have detailed and you may be required to provide evidence of your qualifications.

If you or any members of your team need any further information on accessing instant, affordable fitness professional insurance, visit www.fitnessnetwork.com.au/fitness-insurance or call 02 8412 7400.

Australian Fitness Network is an Authorised Representative (# 377634) of Gallagher Broking Services (AFSL # 227017)