Insuring the Risks

Other risks that are identified but not eliminated, reduced or transferred through the previously defined risk management mechanisms can be transferred, “spread out” or “covered” through professional liability insurance. In evaluating available insurance coverage, owners should be mindful of the need to secure liability insurance for those activities that are actually taking place within their facilities.

Often times, policies that are secured may contain exclusions that provide no insurance-paid defense or indemnification from any judgment that may be rendered as a result of certain activities. More times than not, fitness facilities will need more than simple business owners’ policies (frequently called “BOP Policies”) to provide adequate liability insurance coverage. If exercise testing, for example, is to be offered at facilities by appropriately trained and qualified personnel, then the insurance coverage should not contain an exclusion as to such activities. The services of competent insurance agents or brokers may be necessary, along with risk management advisors and attorneys to determine what coverages are in fact provided through selected insurance policies.

In summary, health and fitness facilities should adopt and maintain ongoing risk management programs which seek to identify, eliminate, reduce and transfer those risks related to injuries/deaths and the claims and suits associated with those risks.

The development of facility policies and procedures in accordance with industry standards and guidelines, including the installation of an effective screening procedure and an appropriate emergency response plan can reduce relevant and foreseeable risks.

The utilization of appropriately trained staff and proper supervision of facility users can also eliminate or reduce relevant risks.

As to those risks which cannot be reduced or eliminated through such means, facilities should consider the use of waivers/ releases or at least assumption of risk documents to attempt to contractually bar claims and suits.

As a last line of defense, appropriate and broad liability insurance coverage should be obtained to protect against claims and suits related to risks which cannot otherwise be eliminated, reduced or transferred.

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