Risk management is one of the most important practices a health club can utilize, and having the right insurance coverage is an important component to maintaining a safe environment. Brian Rawlings, the practice leader for Venture Programs and leader of the new FITLIFE insurance program, recently discussed best practices for risk management and why they bring a partnership approach to the clubs they work with.
CS: What trends are you seeing in risk management/liability right now in the health club industry?
BR: Independent clubs are adding many amenities and services to attract and retain members and guests. New water features such as slides, splash pads and aqua-rock walls, indoor climbing walls, additional spa services and partnerships with medical outlets for services are often added to existing operations. This makes it vital to reassess protocols, take a look at your waivers and contracts to make sure they address the current liability landscape of your operations and double check your insurance language to make sure there are no gaps in coverage.
CS: What’s a common mistake you see a lot of clubs making with risk management?
BR: Honestly, I think many club owners and operators underestimate the potential financial impact that poor risk management can have on their clubs. Unfortunately, the up-front costs can serve as a deterrent for business-critical items like legal fees for a waiver or contract review or the implementation of a vendor to regularly inspect equipment. However, increased insurance costs and expensive repairs that could have been prevented, or lower retention rates of new members based on perception that a gym is not safe or clean, can be costlier.
CS: What should clubs look for in an insurance partner?
BR: When it comes to insurance, a club should really be looking for two partners — a broker and insurer who have a congruent approach to their insurance program. A gym needs to have a trusted insurance broker who is familiar with the industry, the unique coverages available and market conditions. This broker can then align the club with a strong insurer that they can trust to provide competitive pricing and the right coverages for their operations.
CS: Why is FITLIFE a great insurance option? What are the biggest differentiators?
BR: FITLIFE uses a partnership approach with the brokers and clients we serve. FITLIFE assesses each account individually. Responsiveness and service are truly important to the approach we take. We want to provide a competitively priced product that includes the right coverages to meet the needs of each individual risk.
CS: Why should clubs consider partnering with FITLIFE?
BR: Again — the operative word here is — partner. Insurance can be viewed as a commodity; one that can be shopped repeatedly. It is my belief that by working in tandem with our clients as partners, we can provide value to the relationship over the long-term and truly look after our clients’ best interests. Their broker will know they are placing their clients with a program where someone will answer the phone and respond to emails. This is a concept these business owners should be familiar with, as it is the same concept they look to bring to their members.
CS: Is there anything else about FITLIFE or risk management in general you’d like to add?
BR: A proactive approach to risk management is critical. By partnering with a specialty insurer and broker that provide the right recommendations and solutions, club owners can be confident that their businesses and their members are protected.
Brian Rawlings is practice leader for Venture Programs and has spent his career working in fitness and insurance. At Venture, Rawlings is leading the new FITLIFE™ program, which insures fitness, wellness and spa facilities. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.