Why Do We Need Martial Arts Instructor Insurance?

Alot of instructors starting up on a budget often ask if they really need instructor insurance, or if it’s a legal requirement. We always reply with an emphatic yes. Whilst the legal ramifications are a little harder to clearly define (as we enter the realms of duty of care and breaches of this duty) we can very clearly discuss the need on a practical and financial level.

An important caveat to mention is the term ‘martial arts instructor insurance’. It’s a bit of a catch-all as it’s not clear exactly what cover is being discussed.


You’ll be pleased to know our association always provides £500,000 Professional Indemnity insurance for free as standard with all membership options that are inclusive of instructor Public Liability insurance. This means you’ll always have both Public Liability and Professional Indemnity in place. 

We may reference either covers as standard during this article but it’s critically important you bear in mind many associations and insurers won’t provide Professional Indemnity insurance, so there is a potential element of cover that might not be on your policy / membership. You can explore the different types of insurance and what they all mean from here.

What does ‘Instructor Insurance’ actually provide?

We’ll assume that you’re using BMABA cover which is inclusive of both Public Liability (PL) and Professional Indemnity (PI) but if you’re using a different insurer or association, you’ll need to check!

Typically speaking, you are responsible for any members of the public – your students included – that are injured in your care. This will typically be cover for ‘trips, slips and falls’ and will fall under Public Liability – which is the standard insurance everybody teaching must have. Markel UK have a brilliant explanation of insurances. It’s written in relation to Dance Instructors, but there’s a clear parallel;

Why is public liability insurance important?

Regardless of whether you teach in your own premises or rent a space for individual classes, you can still be held liable for injuries that your students, and anyone accompanying them, sustain during your classes. These can be caused by all sorts of things: from tripping over mats to slipping on water spillages, or even by a piece of your equipment breaking. Yet however injuries or damage are sustained, it is still possible for compensation claims to be made against you.

Where you own or rent your own permanent dance studio, the risks are even greater, as injury compensation claims are now routinely made for everything from slipping on icy pathways to tripping over obstacles in poor light. These claims can be expensive too, as even bruising could lead to a ‘soft tissue injury’ claim, while something more serious, such as a broken wrist could lead to a claim for many thousands of pounds, plus the attendant legal fees. Without public liability insurance, even a relatively minor claim can be financially crippling.

That’s why public liability insurance should be considered by every dance teacher. It covers against compensation claims that are made against you following injury to a third party or damage to third party property; it also covers your legal fees, which can potentially run into thousands of pounds on their own – even when a claim against you is ultimately unsuccessful.

What does it cover?

Public liability insurance covers your legal costs in defending a claim, and any compensation or costs that may subsequently be awarded, following:

      • Injury you cause to a third party during your business activities
      • Damage you cause to third party property during your business activities
      • Personal injury or damage to property arising from any product you have supplied

Examples of claims

      • A client slips on an unsecured mat during a [martial arts] lesson and sprains their wrist. They take legal action against you to seek compensation.

      • You accidentally knock a client’s smartphone on the floor while demonstrating a move, and the phone breaks as a result. They take legal action against you for the cost of replacing the phone.

Original Article Here

Whilst we have this great example from Markel (whom is not our insurer, we must add) there is also a fantastic example of professional indemnity;

Why is professional indemnity insurance important?

While many people take [martial arts] classes simply for fun or exercise, an increasing number of teachers have students who hope to one day follow a professional career as a fighter or competitor. Yet those who are not success can sometimes blame the quality of their teacher rather than their own shortcomings, and will sometimes even seek financial redress. Allegations of an inadequate service, such as this, are covered by professional indemnity insurance.

However, professional indemnity insurance claims don’t always arise from failure of students to reach their full potential. If you were to explain a [martial arts] move incorrectly, and your client subsequently injured themselves trying to perform it, they may take action against you to recover any losses they’ve suffered because of the injury, such as being unable to go to work.

Whatever the reasons behind a claim of this kind, they can be ruinously expensive to defend, making professional indemnity insurance a must-consider for every dance teacher or dance school. It covers the legal fees and expenses to defend your claim, as well as any compensation that might be awarded if your defence is unsuccessful. It’s worth remembering that even if a claim is made against you without merit, you will incur legal costs just to defend it; so you’ll be covered regardless of whether you were at fault in the alleged incident.

What does it cover?

Professional indemnity insurance covers your legal costs in defending a claim, and any compensation or costs that may subsequently be awarded, following:

    • Professional negligence, such as giving incorrect instruction or poor advice to a client
    • Unintentional breach of confidentiality and/or copyright
    • Defamation and libel
    • Loss of documents or data
    • Loss of money or goods (for which you are responsible)

Examples of claims

    • You teach a client how to perform a [martial arts] move and they hurt their back while doing it. They hold you responsible for not explaining it properly and take legal action against you to seek compensation.

    • You teach a student that is hoping to [fight competitively with a fight promote]. They fail their trails, hold you responsible for not teaching them properly and take legal action against you to recover their outlay.

      Original Article Here

It’s important to remember that, much as the above summises, your liability isn’t always directly limited just to students physically learning ‘on the mats’. Parents, volunteers, staff and other members of the public are also covered. If you have your own premises, this liability is of course extended but must be protected under business or premises insurance. This works on the premise that you can’t be accountable for a slip, trip or fall in your reception if you’re teaching in the main hall!

If this isn’t already painting an obviously clear need to insure yourself, please consider this final point;

Most instructors don’t consider their legal structure – but they should!

If you don’t have a limited company, limited liability partnership or other legal entity you’re likely a ‘sole trader’. This just means there is no legal distinction between your ‘business’ and you as an individual. This means the same for your finances and your liability. If you as a club are deemed liable, you as an individual are too. This includes any assets you have – such as savings, cars, houses and so on!

Get The Latest News & Updates Via Our Social Media Channels
Not Yet A Member?

Access dozens of in-depth articles, topics and guidance notes on issues just like this.

As with all of the guidance and articles shared throughout our website, this information should not be considered professional advice and is for informational and discussion basis only. You must always take your time to ensure any provisions made at club level are correct and accurate to their intended needs. Only you can do this. We’re available to talk if you’d like to learn more.