By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500
If you teach Yoga, you may have always assumed that if anything happened to one of the students in your class, the studio’s insurance would take care of it. More and more Yoga instructors, however, are considering whether they need liability coverage; and if so, how much? While many facilities do not require instructors to carry their own policies, it may be worth it in the long run.
There have been a number of lawsuits against instructors in the past few years. In May 2008, a Chicago-area student filed a lawsuit against a Himalayan Institute – trained teacher of Yoga, after receiving “severe and permanent injuries” during one of the instructor’s classes in November 2006. The student attended a class at Northbrook YMCA, during which the instructor apparently “grabbed and maneuvered her,” causing permanent injury. The YMCA was also blamed for not reviewing the instructor’s qualifications before hiring her.
In December 2008, a Boulder, Colorado studio was sued by a student for a teacher’s “unsolicited physical manipulation,” which resulted in a torn medial meniscus requiring surgery. The student alleged that the studio should be held responsible for employing teachers who adjust clients’ postures without permission, and create “hazardous conditions.”
Should you decide to pursue coverage, there are four general areas of coverage for Yoga teachers to consider.
Professional liability insurance (malpractice)
General liability insurance (trip and fall)
Product liability coverage
Rental damage coverage
These cover situations where harm has been done, due to an alleged lack of skill or competence of the instructor; due to a product used on or by the client; due to general negligence or if the rental area is somehow damaged. Some policies also cover identity theft, allegations of molestation or sexual misconduct. Coverage is typically capped at $4 million total, but higher or lower limits are available.
Insurance is available through a number of sources, including magazines, publications, and web sites. This insurance coverage is tied to the Yoga instructor. This allows the teacher, who works at a number of studios, to be insured in every location. Some of the resources offer professional memberships, as well as coverage, with premiums ranging from $159 to $404 annually. The National Association of Complementary and Alternative Medicine, which is one provider of coverage, offers a handy chart, comparing coverage from various insurance companies on its website. Some providers also offer reduced rates for instructors, who teach part time. Insurance costs may be deductible for instructors who are self-employed, as well. Complete your research before purchasing a policy, and enjoy a safety net beneath your mat.
Additionally, teachers should establish the following guidelines for themselves, students, and classes.
1. Establish firm safety guidelines for students and Yoga classes.
2. Make sure you are familiar with each student’s current health situation.
3. Design application, informed consent, and waiver of liability forms.
4. Do not assist a student without permission.
5. Never allow students into your classes once the class has begun.
6. Each new student should be interviewed before entering a Yoga training session.
7. Make sure your Yoga certification is up to date.
In comparison to many activities, Yogic practices are reasonably safe. The fact that anyone of us could be injured while shopping is also a reality, but should we give up on walking? Therefore. we know that it is possible to be injured during any activity. With this in mind, we need to establish safety protocols for every possible situation. In the case of some pre-existing health conditions, such as pregnancy, a Yoga teacher specialist is required. This is just one example, among many, but teachers want to make sure students leave class feeling better than when they initially walked through the door.
© Copyright 2011 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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