How insurance protects your business"Insurance protects fitness facilities from a variety of losses, depending on the coverage purchased," says Lou Valentic, chief marketing officer at K&K Insurance Group Inc., Fort Wayne, Ind. "Fitness facilities should always consult with a licensed insurance professional to discuss all options available for ... individual facility's needs." There are several insurance options available.
General liability insurance. General liability insurance covers allegations of negligence that result in bodily injury, property damage or personal injury, as well as the cost to defend or settle claims.
Property insurance. Property insurance generally covers the building, property owned by the insured and the personal property of others, as specified by the policy.
Worker's compensation insurance. Worker's compensation insurance provides medical and disability coverage for on-the-job injuries to employees, and is often required by state statute.
Business income insurance. Business income insurance covers lost profits and ongoing expenses during a business shutdown caused by a covered property loss.
Additional coverages include commercial automobile, crime and excess liability.
What to look for"The most important quality to look for in an insurance company is its ability to pay claims, so be sure to ask about the financial stability of any insurance company you consider," says Valentic. A.M. Best Company, Standard & Poor's and other independent rating organizations can provide this information. "We would also advise that facilities choose an insurance company familiar with fitness facility coverage, and whose underwriters understand the coverage issues unique to the health and fitness industry," Valentic adds.
Dealing with lawsuitsIf your facility is sued, the insurance company you choose will have procedures in place to investigate the claim, depending on the situation. "An onsite inspection may be needed, medical charts may be requested from treating physicians in the event of bodily injury, witnesses may be interviewed, or any number of other means of verifying the situation surrounding the claim could be implemented," explains Valentic. "Ultimately, a decision is made in each situation as to whether the claim should be settled, or if defense at trial is the better course."
Choose your facility's insurance company wisely. Be sure it has experience with other fitness facility accounts and understands the issues inherent in the industry. "Losses from claims affect each facility's ability to purchase affordable insurance coverage in the future," says Valentic. "Choosing an insurance company with experience in fitness claims management can make a difference."
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