Yoga studio owners, as well as independent yoga instructors, need to protect themselves with appropriate and sufficient insurance coverage.

Even relatively simple juries can result in a claim being filed against a studio or instructor for thousands of dollars of medical bills. More severe injuries can generate hundreds of thousands of dollars of expenses to pay legal bills, as well as medical bills.

All yoga studios should carry general liability insurance that includes professional liability coverage to protect themselves from claims, including lawsuits. Most policies tailored to the fitness industry will also include products and completed operations, personal and advertising injury and sexual abuse and molestation coverage limits within the general liability policy.

All studios have premises exposures related to members and guests coming into their owned or leased space. This includes walking through the parking lot, over the sidewalk, across the threshold, into the changing area, as well as, participation in classes or one-on-one sessions. Premises liability claims range from slip-and-fall injuries to minor or more severe injuries resulting from participation in activities.

Professional liability coverage protects the studio and instructors from claims related to their actual teaching. Professional liability includes coverage for what an instructor says or fails to say when teaching. Products and completed operations provides coverage for claims related to items that are sold. Personal and advertising injury coverage protects the yoga studio or instructor from claims related to use of personal information or photos in verbal, print or electronic media. Sexual abuse and molestation coverage offers protection for claims filed by adults and minors for inappropriate acts. All of this insurance coverage is important for yoga studios and instructors in today’s business environments.

Independent yoga instructors can purchase individual professional liability policies that cover themselves everywhere that they teach. They should request the same liability limits as the facilities where they are working. A studio will usually require all of their independent contractors to show proof of this coverage before allowing them to teach classes. Direct employees are covered under the studio’s general liability policy for their professional liability exposure, but independent contractors are usually not covered.

Standard liability limits for the fitness industry are presently one of the following: $1,000,000 per occurrence (single claim) and either $2,000,000 or $3,000,000 annual aggregate (total of all claims in a given year) or $2,000,000 per occurrence and $4,000,000 aggregate. When a studio leases their premises, the lease generally determines the liability limit of coverage selected.

In summary, selecting appropriate insurance coverage and limits is critical to protecting a yoga studio from claims and growing a successful long-term business.

Jennifer Urmston Lowe has been the national account manager for Sports & Fitness Insurance Corporation (SFIC) insuring fitness centers since 1998. She helped her father, John Urmston, found the IHRSA Insurance Program for Property and Casualty Insurance in 1999. She can be reached at jurmston@sportsfitness.com or visit www.sportsfitness.com