Offering Child Watch Services? Watch Your Liability
Child watch and babysitting services can be very appealing to club members and prospects. Some fitness fans are only interested in clubs that provide a safe place to leave their children while they workout. Though many clubs offer the service or are considering it, they might not be accounting for the risk they are or would be taking on when providing child watch.
A good agent or broker who knows the industry can assess a fitness facility’s child watch program and identify any risk exposures. He or she can also offer helpful risk mitigation tips to keep the fitness center’s younger guests out of danger and the facility away from pricey claims.
A qualified insurer will suggest a number of risk mitigation tactics, including that the child watch center requires a parent or caregiver complete and sign a waiver and information sheet that lists the child’s age, any medical conditions, as well as those individuals who are authorized to exit the facility with the child. He or she will also suggest the parent or caregiver be required to buzz in and out, as well as sign in and out when leaving a child in the facility’s care.
Another way for fitness facilities to reduce their risk exposure is to child-proof their child watch rooms. They should make sure all shelving is secure, that items are regularly cleaned and sterilized, and that children are separated by age, providing appropriate toys for each age group. Additionally, staff should be trained in CPR and emergency vacating procedures, as well as undergo sufficient background checks. Finally, staff should be made aware of appropriate contact and abuse procedures, and the facility should have written policies related to sick children, food in the child watch room, toileting protocols and incident reporting.
Incorporating a child watch program into your fitness facility may seem like a good idea, but without taking the proper precautions, including obtaining waivers, training staff and childproofing, as well as adding additional liability insurance coverage, such programs could do more harm than good. In any discussion on incorporating child watch into your facility, make sure to include your insurer to assess the risks, and determine and price the right coverage.
For those who already have child watch programs in place, contact a knowledgeable insurer to make sure the business is fully protected and taking the proper precautions to reduce its risk exposure. With the right insurer, fitness facilities can implement child watch programs confidently and free from worry of costly claims.
Brian Rawlings is the 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. For more information, visit fitlifeins.com.