From guiding students through poses, flows, breathwork, meditation and spirituality, the responsibilities of yoga instructors are many – and as experienced or competent as an instructor may be, things might not always go to plan.
While yoga is generally considered a low-risk form of exercise, accidents can always happen, and as an instructor, you need to be prepared for them.
And that’s where yoga instructor insurance comes in.
But where to start? With so many different types of protection and so much legal jargon, it can feel like you need a law degree to navigate the maze of insurance for yoga instructors out there.
In this article, we’re here to help. We’ll be looking at:
- Why do yoga instructors need insurance?
- Common lawsuits against yoga instructors (and how to avoid them)
- What type of insurance do yoga instructors need?
- How to find the right yoga instructor insurance for you
Why do yoga instructors need insurance?
First things first – why do you need yoga instructor insurance?
Well, as a yoga instructor, you are responsible for the health, safety and well-being of your students. And while yoga is generally a safe activity, injuries can and do happen to beginner and experienced yogis alike.
Potential yoga injuries range from minor to extremely serious – with strains, sprains, repetitive stress, muscle tears, overstretching and heat exhaustion being amongst the most common traumas for practitioners.
In more unfortunate cases, yoga students have been known to experience fractures, dislocations, irritation of pre-existing conditions or even heart attacks.
If a student is injured during a yoga class, they may hold you responsible for their medical expenses and other damages. Without insurance, you could be personally liable for these costs, which depending on the circumstances, could put your entire livelihood at risk.
And this can be true whether you’re an individual instructor or employed by a studio.
This is because many gyms, fitness institutions and yoga studios don’t have comprehensive insurance that covers lawsuits against individual staff, and may require you to have personal yoga instructor insurance in order to teach at their facilities.
Common lawsuits against yoga instructors – and how to avoid them
There are many situations in which yoga instructors may be sued, and the basis of each of them is the claim of negligence on the part of the yoga teacher or studio.
This negligence can take the form of actions or inactions by the instructor that directly cause some physical and/or emotional injury to a student.
Here are some common claims yogi students make against their teachers:
#1: Lack of Proper Training:
One of the most common accusations levied against yoga instructors is that their training was insufficient and that they, therefore, lack the experience and knowledge to provide safe and effective yoga classes.
While it is possible to teach yoga without any formal qualifications, the best way to protect against such claims is to undergo formal yoga training with a Yoga Alliance registered school.
Comprehensive yoga training usually takes between 200 and 500 hours and will provide a rounded understanding of how poses affect the body, how to adjust the program for different ability levels and pre-existing conditions, and how to perform adjustments properly.
If you are wanting to teach a specific style of yoga or specific vulnerable demographics such as children, pregnant persons or disabled people, make sure you take a yoga training that qualifies you accordingly.
#2: Unwanted Physical Manipulation:
Another common legal complaint is receiving physical adjustments from yoga instructors without having given permission.
Never assume that consent for adjustments is implied by students’ attendance in class, and be vigilant to always obtain direct consent from those in your class before giving them hands-on adjustments.
Consent can be given in many ways, from using double-sided “consent cards”, to simply asking them at the time.
Some students argue that they feel pressured to accept in politeness or fear of what other students might think, so some instructors prefer to give primarily verbal cues so students can self-adjust.
As well as consent, make sure you’re also following correct adjustment protocol that makes the students feel comfortable.
#3: Improper Direction and Supervision:
The failure of instructors to provide continuous and proper supervision to those in their class is another common lawsuit topic in the yoga world.
Improper direction and supervision can take a number of forms, including:
- Lack of clear and precise instructions that leave students unsure how to perform the pose/breathwork etc. correctly
- Failure to offer modifications that accommodate for different abilites or injuries
- Failure to create a welcoming atmosphere in which students feel confident to practice and ask questions
- Lack of proper pacing and balance between challenging poses and relaxation, which can result in fatigue and thus injury.
To avoid such claims, be on the look out for students who appear to have misinterpreted instructions or look as if they are struggling, and be there to correct and guide them as quickly as possible.
#4: Incorrect Adjustment:
When performed correctly, receiving hands-on adjustments is a great way to deepen your practice, go further into poses and improve your alignment. However with so many different body shapes and abilities out there, adjustments can be tricky.
To avoid receiving a claim of incorrect adjustment, remember to go with caution and prioritize safety.
Always ask students about any existing medical conditions, recent surgery or pregnancy either in person or during registration.
When making adjustments, know how to do so correctly – including how to correctly position your body against theirs, how to use props to assist the pose, and how the student’s level of yoga experience, comfort and age may affect the adjustment method.
#5: Environmental Hazards and Faulty Equipment:
Sometimes the subject of lawsuits isn’t so much against the instructor, as it is about the equipment or environment they allow their students to practice with.
From dirty germ-harboring bolsters to slippy mats to weak straps, there are a number of risks directed at students from environmental hazards and faulty equipment.
Slips, falls and equipment malfunction are among the leading cause of lawsuits against any fitness business. The best way to avoid this is to make sure your facility and all equipment are regularly inspected, secured and cleaned to prevent accidents.
What type of insurance do yoga instructors need?
There are several types of insurance that yoga instructors may need, including but not limited to:
- General Liability Insurance
This type of insurance protects you in cases where a person is injured during a yoga class or suffers property damage as a result of your actions. In most cases, it will cover medical expenses, legal fees, and other costs associated with a lawsuit.
- Professional Liability Insurance
Also known as errors and omissions insurance, this coverage can protect you if a student claims that you have given them bad advice or failed to provide adequate instruction, again covering legal fees and damages awarded in a lawsuit.
- Product Liability Insurance
This is necessary if you provide or sell yoga products in your classes, such as mats, props or clothing.
In cases where a person is injured or suffers property damage as a result of using your yoga equipment, product liability insurance will protect you and cover legal fees and other costs.
- Business Owner’s Policy
This type of policy combines several types of insurance including general liability and property insurance to protect your business assets, such as equipment and inventory.
It will protect your business in many cases, from the financial consequences of accidents or incidents that may occur during yoga classes to theft or vandalism of your yoga space.
We highly recommend consulting a professional to advise you on which insurance you need to be fully covered, to make sure you’re protected properly.
How to find the right yoga instructor insurance for you
When shopping for yoga instructor insurance, there are several factors to consider, including:
- Coverage Options
As mentioned above, different insurance providers may offer different types of coverage options, such as general liability, professional liability, property damage and so on.
Be sure to double check what type of coverage you need based on your specific needs as a yoga instructor before committing.
- Coverage Limits
Make sure the policy you choose provides adequate coverage for your needs.
Consider the types of classes you teach, the demographic and number of students you have, and the types of injuries that are most likely to occur. Then think, are the coverage limits high enough to cover potential claims that may arise?
With a little searching around you can find some significant savings, so be sure to compare quotes from several insurance providers to find the best value for your money.
Remember, just as the cheapest policy may not always be the best option, higher price doesn’t always mean better service.
Research the insurance provider on different platforms to make sure they are reputable and well-reviewed for their service. Look at customer reviews, check out their conversations on social media and their trust score on sites like TrustPilot.
Read the policy carefully to understand any exclusions or limitations that may apply. For example, some policies may not cover injuries that occur outside of a yoga class, while others may not insure you in some locations or when teaching online.
- Customer Support
Last but not least, you should also consider the level of customer support provided by the insurance company. Ensure they have a responsive customer service team that will assist you with any questions or concerns you have about your policy – this can make all the difference.
In conclusion, insurance for yoga instructors is an essential investment whether you are teaching online, self-employed or working in a studio.
Not only will it provide you and your students peace of mind, but also crucial financial protection in case of accidents or lawsuits.
When searching and comparing different insurance providers, consider the coverage limits, cost, reputation of the provider and customer support – and be sure to check any exclusions or conditions that may apply.
By taking all of the above into considerations, we’re sure you’ll find the best insurance for yoga teachers for your needs.
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