Insurance coverage?

Flying Crane

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Hi guys,

Do you have any recommendations for school let ability insurance providers? I am looking at starting a small training group out of my garage, but the insurance coverage is getting rather complicated with my homeowners coverage. If get the feeling my provider simply does not have experience with this kind of thing. Any suggestions?

Many Thanks
 

WaterGal

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There are a number of companies that offer speciality martial arts school liability insurance policies, such a K&K, Markel, and karateinsurance.com. You can find a lot more by googling "martial arts liability insurance". Sometimes, they'll have a cheaper policy for instructors who aren't teaching at a full-time dedicated school. Either way, though, I'd expect to pay a few hundred dollars per year.
 

ShortBridge

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This has been on my to-do list too.

I chose not to teach connected to my home for this exact reason.

@Flying Crane when I opened my club I consulted with a small business attorney who was recommended to me by a student of my SiFu who is also a student. He charged me a couple of hundred bucks to put appropriate structures and filings together and gave me solid advice on how to establish separation between my person and my kwoon. It was worth every penny and I recommend it. He also advised me to purchase liability insurance, but I was on a shoestring back then, so I didn't. It's time now, though.
 

JR 137

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This has been on my to-do list too.

I chose not to teach connected to my home for this exact reason.

@Flying Crane when I opened my club I consulted with a small business attorney who was recommended to me by a student of my SiFu who is also a student. He charged me a couple of hundred bucks to put appropriate structures and filings together and gave me solid advice on how to establish separation between my person and my kwoon. It was worth every penny and I recommend it. He also advised me to purchase liability insurance, but I was on a shoestring back then, so I didn't. It's time now, though.
Solid advice right there. Anytime you’re doing something like this, you’re taking a risk. Better to pay an attorney to set things straight and pay insurance than to have it all taken away, and then some, because of a stupid mistake that took a fraction of a second to occur.

MA is (or at least should) be all about self defense. Doing the stuff ShortBridge mentioned is real-world self defense if you really think about it.
 
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Flying Crane

Flying Crane

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I had talked with my homeowners provider to see if they could add business liability coverage. What they want to do is rewrite the coverage altogether to make it business coverage, which would add an estimated $1500 per year to my premiums. But doing this would leave my personal liability uncovered so we would need to come up with a solution for that, likely adding additional expense.

If I do not rectify the insurance, and teach anyways, even if I teach for free and make it NOT a business, they told me they would cancel my homeowners policy altogether and leave me without coverage.

So I feel like this is an area of insurance that they are not conversant on and simply don’t know what they are doing. I figure that if I get in touch with a provider who has more expertise, then there ought to be a reasonable and more affordable solution. And given the answers I’ve gotten so far, it may mean that I need to move my homeowners coverage to a different provider altogether.

My current agent is with Farmers, but they shopped my coverage to a company called Lexington. They did this because we have an in-law unit that we rent on AirBNB, and apparently Farmers will not write insurance to include that kind of thing. My dad works in the insurance industry and says that Lexington is a good company, but I’m thinking they simply do not have expertise writing coverage for martial arts. So, it’s just a bit complicated at the moment.
 

pdg

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He also advised me to purchase liability insurance, but I was on a shoestring back then, so I didn't. It's time now, though.

I hope he advised in the strongest possible way.

Operating without liability insurance is kinda silly, it leaves you open to so much and in a way could actually bias any judgement against you.

Are you guys using liability waivers?

They're a good idea, but in reality offer as much legal protection as a sheet of single ply toilet paper in a hurricane.
 

Bino TWT

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I've never seen one actually go to court as far as a martial arts school is concerned, but generally (in Texas, at least), signed liability waivers are upheld and enforceable to the letter in court.

Even posted signs ("We are not responsible for broken windshields" on the back of dumptrucks) have been honored in court.

The exception is what they call "gross negligence", which is a broad grey area, I suppose... And the Texas Supreme court has ruled against upholding certain waivers signed by the parents on behalf of minors.

I suppose this sort of thing varies state to state though.
 

pdg

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I've never seen one actually go to court as far as a martial arts school is concerned, but generally (in Texas, at least), signed liability waivers are upheld and enforceable to the letter in court.

Even posted signs ("We are not responsible for broken windshields" on the back of dumptrucks) have been honored in court.

The exception is what they call "gross negligence", which is a broad grey area, I suppose... And the Texas Supreme court has ruled against upholding certain waivers signed by the parents on behalf of minors.

I suppose this sort of thing varies state to state though.

I'm not in Texas, nor in the US at all.

Having "We are not responsible for broken windshields" wouldn't hold up to anything at all in the slightest here - you can lose your operator's licence if you allow your employees to drive with an insecure load (small items in loose loads must be netted or sheeted if not able to restrain individually).

In fact, that particular law is stupid if it is upheld - it removes responsibility for the driver's actions, which I just can't understand.

What happens if a road roller falls off a low loader and flattens a school bus - I suppose that's fine as long as they had a sign...

(Kicking up a stone from the side of the road doesn't need a sign...)
 

Bino TWT

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I think the gross negligence of a road roller falling off would be addressed a bit differently than a few rocks flying out the back of a dumptruck as it goes down the road. But I agree, it's stupid. Speaking as someone who had their windshield broken by one of those rocks lol
 

pdg

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I think the gross negligence of a road roller falling off would be addressed a bit differently than a few rocks flying out the back of a dumptruck as it goes down the road. But I agree, it's stupid. Speaking as someone who had their windshield broken by one of those rocks lol

If a few rocks flew out the back of a dumptruck here, the owner and driver (if separate people and the vehicle is being used commercially) would be liable.

Same as if something falls out of a trailer I'm towing behind my car.

So what if one of those few rocks went through a window and permanently blinded a small child with the flying glass? "That didn't happen" is not a valid reasoning.

The law here basically translates as "it's your responsibility to ensure whatever you load (or have loaded) in your vehicle remains in your vehicle" - and I can find no way to disagree with that.


As to the waivers, it's basically putting common sense into writing.

If you attempt to do something you can't do, it's your own (or my own) stupid fault if you (I) get injured.

If the instructor knows you can't do something and instructs you to do it anyway, that's willful negligence and a waiver won't help the instructor.

A few weeks ago I cracked a rib sparring - it's something I accept just happened. There's no need for a waiver to stop me suing for it...
 
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Flying Crane

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I’ve got another thread where this is discussed further:
Warning to instructors, regarding your insurance coverage

My post #22 I think, sums up the value of a waiver.

In short, it is a good idea, good business practice. It will not protect you from actual liability in your actions.

It does document that the participant knows there is a possibility of injury, and chooses to engage in the activity anyways. This can help you in your defense if you are sued, but absolutely is no guarantee of winning the dispute in court.

And, even if you win, defending the law suit will be extremely expensive, and your insurance will help you pay for that.

So yes, use a waiver, but yes, definitely carry appropriate insurance as well.
 

Bino TWT

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Flying Crane, thanks, that's great information. But there are different laws state by state. Maybe they do it different out there. My previous Sifu was a lawyer, and he didn't see any issues with the waiver holding up here in Texas. It's far outside of my realm though... So yeah, it might be a good idea for insurance.
 
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Flying Crane

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Flying Crane, thanks, that's great information. But there are different laws state by state. Maybe they do it different out there. My previous Sifu was a lawyer, and he didn't see any issues with the waiver holding up here in Texas. It's far outside of my realm though... So yeah, it might be a good idea for insurance.
I am not an attorney, but my wife, father-in-law, and brother are attorneys, and I have worked in the legal industry for about 24 years so I’ve absorbed some things in that process, not to mention that my father works in the insurance industry and has always been very aware of liability issues.

So...there may be some differences state-by-state, but I would be very surprised if the differences are that great. I simply cannot believe that a waiver would automatically prevent a law suit, or would automatically require the plaintiff to reimburse you for your costs if you win in court. I believe you would need to file a separate suit in order to recover those costs, and would need to prove that the original plaintiff had deliberately filed a frivolous and malicious suit against you. Once again, your insurance helps you pay those legal costs and pays your judgement if you lose in court, up to the limits of your policy.

However, there can be a lot of gray area and your waiver can help your defense. It creates a record that your student knew of the risks involved in training, and chose to train anyways.

But if you act in a manner that is reckless or downright stupid or dangerous, and that results in a student getting injured, you will lose the court case.

Examples: you have a new student who has little or no athletic talents, and has never punched a heavy bag in his life. You tell him to punch the 150 pound bag. He is hesitant, and you insist. He does so gently. You keep telling him to punch it harder and harder. He is flustered and he breaks his wrist, incurring medical expenses and lost wages as a computer programmer. He sues you. Personally, I think he will win.

New scenario: you have a student who has been training with you for several years and has developed to a pretty high level. He has punched the 70 pound heavy bag many times in the past. He has a good deal of experience with it and never had an injury. But he has been away from training for six months, due to personal family issues and a new job. He comes back to class and wants to work on the bag. You tell him to go easy. He decides to slam away on the bag, and breaks his wrist. He sues you (unlikely given your history together, but you never know; perhaps his health insurance provider sues you to recover the medical costs, and he is out some wages as well and really has no choice but to sue you because he is missing house payments). I think you will win the suit, but you will need to pay a lawyer to defend you in court. The waiver helps, because it shows your student was formally informed of the risks in training, coupled with his years of experience. You might have an uphill battle winning a countersuit for legal fees. Better have some liability insurance.

My point is, legal disputes are seldom clear-cut and take time in court to resolve and decide who prevails. You need a lawyer to help you with that. A waiver is NOT NOT NOT a Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free card. Showing the waiver to the judge will not make the suit simply go away.

If a lawyer advised his client that a waiver is plenty, and there is no need for insurance, in my opinion that is malpractice. You need a new lawyer.
 

ShortBridge

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Also not a lawyer, but I've talked waivers with multiple lawyers over the years on multiple subjects and in more than one US State.

I don't believe that they are worthless, but they are also not sufficient on their own. What they establish is that the injured person chose to engage in an activity that they understood might result in injury to them and took responsibility in advance for that eventuality. Different than the dumptruck scenario, because the person who's window gets broken never agreed to that risk.

The waiver doesn't cover negligence. A broken piece of equipment that injures you or a drunk instructor or classmate or even a slip and fall on a wet floor. But, it makes it more difficult for a person to win litigation if they circumstance that they accepted responsibility for results in the type of injury to them that was predicted and they they accepted.

The reality of law in the US is that it is frequently about economics. How much each of you is willing to spend and risk to be right. Usually it comes down to settling instead of losing. My understanding is that this is where a liability policy helps you.

...but get local, professional, legal advice and make your own decisions.
 

WaterGal

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A waiver might help you once you go to court, but at best you'll still be on the hook for thousands of dollars in lawyers fees & court costs, and at worst you'll lose everything. Liability insurance, on the other hand, will cover all that stuff, and may cover other things like: injury to you, accidental damage to your property, loss of income caused by the school having to close, etc.
 
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Flying Crane

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A waiver might help you once you go to court, but at best you'll still be on the hook for thousands of dollars in lawyers fees & court costs, and at worst you'll lose everything. Liability insurance, on the other hand, will cover all that stuff, and may cover other things like: injury to you, accidental damage to your property, loss of income caused by the school having to close, etc.
I do not believe that stuff would be covered by liability insurance, because that covers your actions that injure others or damage their property. However, business insurance would cover the other issues, and that is something to discuss with your provider, to make sure you understand the limits of your coverage.
 

WaterGal

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Martial arts school liability insurance is a type of business insurance. Usually it's sold as a package.

IIRC, our policy (from karateinsurance.com) covers something like $10,000 in property damage, plate glass damage (in case somebody crashes their car into our picture windows), $5,000 accidental injury, $40,000 in loss of business income (in case, say, the building catches on fire and we have to close the school for a month), and some other stuff that I don't recall off the top of my head.

Edit: we did pay extra for the business income insurance and the plate glass coverage, they were optional add-ons.
 

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