Small business: Anthony O’Brien
NAME: Carren O’Brien BUSINESS: Pulse Fitness & Lifestyle, Avoca Beach, NSW QUESTION: What insurance do I need for my business?
Victoria has the highest proportion of fitness instructors in Australia, according to a 2016 industry report. The personal training sector in Australia turns over a combined $480 million annually and is growing at a yearly rate of 5.6%, says IBIS World.
After taking time out to be a stay-at-home mum for the past five years, I’m relaunching my personal training business, Pulse Fitness & Lifestyle on the NSW Central Coast. I conduct group training in local parks, one-onone coaching, as well as sessions in a small studio in my garage. I want some advice about what insurance cover I need to protect myself, my clients and my business.
1 Inspired by TV’s Ninja Warrior
Let me start by letting you all know that Carren is my wife and I think it’s great she is back in business. I thought her question and the expert responses might be useful for other readers.
Popular TV programs such as Ninja Warrior are encouraging more Aussies to get fitter but this has its downside when it comes to insurance. Erin Ralph, of Marsh Advantage, which offers specialist insurance to personal trainers, says: “There are 50 different training activities we cover and only a handful we don’t cover.
“These ‘Ninja’-type programs are great but there have been claims from people slipping off ropes four metres in the air and breaking vertebrae. There’s a duty of care required by trainers.”
2 Take out public liability cover
Generally personal trainers aren’t legally required to have public liability or professional indemnity cover, says Ralph. However, there are some situations where it will be necessary (see item 3).
Public liability insurance provides protection if a client is injured and you are found to be liable. Professional indemnity insurance protects you and your business against a breach of professional duty.
Ralph says public liability premiums start from $139 a year. If you are operating as a company, premiums will be higher as both you and the company could potentially be sued for negligence. Functioning as a company could double premiums, although this expense could be offset somewhat by claiming it as a tax deduction.
3 Location has a big bearing
If you operate your personal training business as a subcontractor at a gym, the owner might require a minimum of $10 million to $20 million worth of public liability cover with professional indemnity included, says Ralph.
If you run sessions on the beach or in a local park or community hall, before issuing a commercial permit your local council might require you to provide evidence that you have public liability and professional indemnity.
Interestingly, you’ll pay a higher premium if you train clients in your home. “If you have direct responsibility for the premises where you operate and the equipment, the cover gets more expensive,” says Ralph. To keep your premiums down, I’d be inclined to take to the road. If you go mobile, you may need general property cover.
4 Protect your income too
Public liability and professional indemnity insurance cover injury or loss to your clients only. To protect your own finances, Ralph recommends you take out income protection insurance.
This covers you against loss of income due to unemployment, illness or accident. It could provide you with a tax-free salary and should continue to pay out until you return to work.
As you’re self-employed, you need to make sure your income continues no matter what and that it extends to your business expenses, says Ralph. “If you’re injured, you still might need to pay the fee to hire the local park.”
For more detailed advice in relation to your circumstances, be sure to talk to an insurance company or a broker.
Anthony O’Brien is a small business and personal finance writer with 20-plus years’ experience in the communication industry.