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Public Liability - Essential Business Cover

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PUBLIC / PRODUCTS LIABILITYMost people feel Public Liability Insurance is the first line of defence for their business when this is not true. Applying the appropriate risk management strategies and polices to prevent an incident is the first thing to secure. Next is using an appropriately worded waiver form restricting your liability for compensation and strengthening your defence in a claim.

What level of liability do you need?
There are industry standards that professional bodies will recommend, but ultimately you will make that decision on the level of cover you require. The venue / landlord may specify a minimum limit which is most often 10mil Public Liability with around 30% of the fitness / martial arts industries opting for 20mil cover. You will pay around 25% more for the higher cover.

The Public Liability cover for Martial Arts Schools is different to Gyms / PT Studios because of the diverse range of activities and equipment used.

Martial Arts schools / clubs require a specific type of cover to include what is termed as 'participation' and this relates to members partnering up (sparring). This starts from pre-arranged techniques, to semi contact and right up to full contact sparring.

A policy needs to include all types of martial arts and combat sports such as these mainstream ones: Kickboxing, Muay Thai, Taekwondo, Karate, Kung Fu, Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ), Aikido, Hapkido, Tang So Do, Kempo, Iaido, Ninjutsu, Kendo, Wushu, Tai Chi, Judo, Silat, Boxing, Krav Maga, Defensive Tactics etc.

What is important to know is each martial arts code has a risk rating attached to it. This becomes more important when a school introduces a new style that maybe rated as a higher risk by the insurer. All you have to do is let the broker know what you teach now and what you may do in the future. This way we can make sure you are covered for all the activities you provide and there is no potential issue in the event of a claim.

A lot of martial arts schools have included a small gym area with some opting to have a much bigger space. It is important to know the insurance risk on martial arts activities is different to the operations of a full or hybrid gym set up. It is essential to let the broker know what that percentage of space is allocated to each activity to provide the most appropriate policy.

Business Owners generally just take up Public and Products Liability (cover limits from $1mil - $20mil) with $10mil being the industry standard. We find that larger schools with multiple branches and staff, along with associations often include Management Liability to protect staff / directors on an individual basis. This is being taken up more often, especially as more business owners realise, the potential gap in their overall company operations and as the price is now very reasonable to add it on.

CODE OF PRACTICE - BUSINESS OBLIGATION School / gym owners have a moral, ethical and legal obligation to operate around the industry standards (a combination of business / coaching / legal compliance). As in many industries some operators may choose to just do their own thing without regard for these standards. This of course reflects in a negative manner on those that do the right thing and the industry itself.

Instructors / coaches give advice / direction on how to train, they match students together / set up scenarios and sometimes they get it wrong. Sometimes an incident happens, another time it could be the student not following the direction of the teacher. An instructor needs to be indemnified against what is deemed negligence under the insurance (professional indemnity) or could risk the loss of their personal assets. 

The facts are if you are running a martial arts club / gym you need to have the right insurance. It all comes back to education and what an operator is taught by his mentor and what research he does himself. The truth is to run a successful school one needs a diverse range of skills with a mindset of seeking continuous personal development.


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