Dance Instructor Insurance – Liability insurance

We need to start by making a difference between dancing instructors and dancing teachers.

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In almost all states, teachers have to be licensed by a board to describe themselves with that term and teach in a recognized school.

Dancing instructors are not recognized as teachers and usually run classes and workshops from their own or rented premises.

In this article, the issue is dealing with instructors of this kind, since they may be subject to many risks of liability coming from their activity.

Registered teachers working for recognized schools are usually indemnified from any risks by the organization for which they are working, which will have its own insurance.

Dance Instructor Insurance - Liability insurance

Dancing instructors who are working for themselves should be looking at the possibility of something happening that could lead to them being sued because they are liable in legal terms for the events that have happened under their watch. 

Whether you are supervising young children in their first formal coaching on the dance floor, or a teen dreaming of becoming the next Margot Fonteyn or Rudolf Nuyerev, or even older people who need to benefit from gentle exercise like Jazzercise, it is very important to keep in mind that there are all kinds of possible risks that you could be held legally responsible for.

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That’s why liability insurance for dancing instructors comes near the top of the list in every guide that associations and guilds of dancing instructors publish.

What does a dancing instructor do?

Although it sounds like a simple term, there is a very wide range of activity that is covered by the term “dancing teacher”. Other similar terms are “group fitness instructors” and “fitness instructor.”

Still, since they describe the same essential activity, we have stuck to dance instructor in this article.

Outside of formal classes in schools and colleges, private dance instructors usually work in their own private dance academies, private dance studios, gyms and health clubs.

One increasingly popular form of work, before the devastation of COVID, was working on cruise ships and in holiday resorts. 

Almost all dance studios and schools who hire teachers require them to have their own fitness liability insurance and general liability insurance coverage.

What is public liability insurance for dancing instructors?

General liability insurance is the primary type of insurance for any person who runs the risk of being sued by a third party for injury, death or property damages.

It covers you for financial losses caused to third-parties by bodily injury or property damage.

In addition, any related medical or legal expenses. Some companies offer cover for ancillary covers such as slander and libel.

Accidents can occur at any time while conducting your dance teaching activities.

There is a legal duty that you will conduct your instruction in a manner that doesn’t endanger people in the immediate area of the dance floor, in the galleries and change rooms, as well as to protect the property itself against damages resulting from your actions.

Around the floor and in the environment, there are many different sorts of risks that can lead to unfortunate accidents.

Whether you are teaching in a public hall, your own private studio, or in a rented space, the liability is the same and you can be held responsible for any injury to students, visitors, viewers or anyone immediately in the vicinity or to damage in any way to any other area of the house, club or school, such as change rooms, access areas and so on.

When you think about it, the dance floor can be a risky place.

You and your students are dancing on a very hard and slippery surface with no built-in absorption.

They are moving around quickly with sudden twists and turns.

Basically, they are making some pretty unnatural movements that the body is not used to.

Falling on the hard floor can’t be avoided, because there is nothing to grab on to keep balance – except perhaps another dancer, in which case the resultant fall could injure both.

Medical studies of injuries to dancers identify several serious outcomes, like:

  • Repetitive movements that put excessive strain on muscles, ligaments, and bones lead to stress fractures, tissue tears, and chronic pain.
  • Hip injuries like SHS (snapping hip syndrome), impingement, flexor tendonitis or bursitis  sacroiliac joint dysfunction, and labral tears.
  • Ankle and foot such as impingement, achilles tendonitis and trigger toe.
  • Knee injuries.
  • Long-term effects like arthritis, 

Dancers or their parents could claim that such outcomes were the result of your negligence or fault, and sue for restitution. 

Other possible scenarios are accidents that happen off the floor in general access areas, like tripping on a broken step or slipping on a wet floor.

All of these could be deemed to be your fault.

Without any way to prove that you weren’t responsible for the initial soaking of the walkway or broken step, a settlement of many hundreds of dollars could end up as the only way to avoid adding thousands of dollars in legal fees to the whole incident.

So, if the person injured, or the owner of the building damaged, claims that you were at fault, they may sue you for the cost of replacement or repair, for any medical expenses, and for other things like “pain and distress”.

Remember that people are becoming increasingly litigious and even the friendliest student’s parents can turn into a very angry opponent in court.

General liability insurance for dancing teachers and instructors provides a high level of protection against any such legal outcome.

The policy takes over all aspects of the case, provides the necessary legal defence, and up to the limits you have selected, will cover 100% of the final judgment or settlement.

We talk more about the usual levels of insurance you should be thinking of a bit later in this article.

You can read more about general liability insurance in your state here.

Should I have excess liability insurance for my dancing instruction operations?

For most start-up and small businesses, the levels of normal general liability policies are sufficient.

However, for dancing instructors who are teaching large groups of students simultaneously, it may be good to think about the possibility of an excess liability policy.

The risks that some extraordinary event could injure or even kill multiple students in a teaching class may be more realistic for your own operations – you alone can judge.

Something like having your classes in a glass-covered studio that gets hit by a major hailstorm, bringing the whole structure down onto the class, could end up as a claim for damages in the millions. 

To protect yourself from losing everything in expensive lawsuits, you can add excess liability to your insurance policy and get higher coverage.

You should talk to an experienced insurance agent, insurance broker or company agent to make sure that you are really in need of this exceptional cover.

Do I need professional liability insurance as a dancing instructor?

Professional liability insurance, also known as Errors & Omissions, covers you from financial losses resulting from allegations from customers of some malpractice, errors, and negligence in the conduct of your teaching.

Any allegations that your professional instruction failed to deliver results or that you were making errors or mistakes in your advice can result in you being sued for recovery of fees paid, damages, medical bills for treatment, therapies, loss of work and many other possible claims.

Teaching dancing in the wrong form could result in chronic injuries.

Promising parents that their children will achieve a high level of outcomes could lead them to sue for a misleading statement.

Teaching in extreme conditions without regard to the physical state of the pupil could lead to breakdowns and potential hospitalization.

While you may have full confidence in your own abilities to teach properly and professionally, so that such events would never occur, you should think of the high level of risk you are accepting, and compare that to the relatively low cost of professional liability insurance.

If you want to sleep better at night, and work better with your students, you shouldn’t have in the back of your mind all the time that you could suddenly be faced with unforeseen outcomes and be liable for enormous money losses.

Does a dancing instructor need equipment insurance?

In general, this type of insurance is only necessary if you have invested substantial amounts of your own money in specialized equipment.

It is very expensive to replace it in case of any damage, loss or theft.

Unless you can afford to immediately replace such expensive gear quickly out of your own pocket, you should have full-level equipment insurance so that you can immediately buy any equipment needed to keep the business running.

Does my dance studio need property insurance?

Commercial property insurance is needed if you own or rent some premises where you conduct business and have office equipment, computers, business records etc, or store your work equipment and materials.

It provides insurance in cases of fire, explosion, burst pipes, floods, storms, theft, vandalism, etc.

The main point is to protect all of your physical assets as much as possible. 

In particular, if you have your own studio at home where you conduct your lessons, then you need to check your existing homeowners policies carefully.

Most private homeowners insurance policies specifically exclude any kind of commercial activities, and you could be voiding your entire policy.

In this case, the consequences of any accidental damage, fire, storm, earthquake, lightning and all other risks will not be covered by your domestic insurance. 

Check with your insurance company, broker or agent, or as an alternative just buy the required extra policy cover to be completely safe.

Personal accident and illness insurance

If you are dependent on the income you earn from your dance instruction activities, you may want to protect yourself from accidents and illness.

Since dancing is a physical activity, accidents are possible at any time and you should take all necessary steps to be protected at all times.

Personal accident and illness insurance (PA) covers you from losing your income while ill or injured.

This coverage usually does not depend on the fact if your injury or illness was a direct result of your teaching.

What levels of insurance should a dance teacher or coach take?

Several different factors should guide you in setting the required levels, and the figures we give here are just general guidelines taken from typical dance instructors.

Most instructors choose $1 million single incident cover for general liability insurance, with a total of $2 million for the whole year.

See the next section for expected costs.

Excess liability cover may be necessary for instructors if you are working with very large groups of students. In such a case, excess single incident cover of $10 million, which comes into effect after the main policy pays the first one million, is the usual option.

Professional liability / E&O covers usually taken are $25,000 for a single incident, with total claims of $50,000 for the whole year.

A claims deduction of $500 is usually required by the insurance company to not get an excessive amount of small “nuisance” claims.

See the next section for expected costs.

Equipment insurance, and Commercial property insurance policies costs depend completely on the declared value of the policy, the level of claim deduction you are willing to accept, and your claims history.

What does dance instructor liability insurance cost?

For general liability cover of $1 million, you should expect to pay around $15-$20  per month. Some companies offer rates as low as $10 per month in a few states, so it’s worthwhile doing a thorough internet search. 

E&O insurance of $25,000 / $50,000 should cost around $10-$15 per month.

Some insurance companies offer policies that combine the two liability covers, plus commercial property insurance, for around $30 per month, but that depends on the value of the property and the insurance levels chosen.

How to select the right dancing teacher’s insurance policy?

There are few ways that you can get your insurance policy.

Before making a purchase,  get a quote from a competent broker, agent or company representative.

They will need to evaluate your property and equipment, to record all the risks and other factors.

After that, they should direct you to the insurance company and you can then buy a policy.

A second and faster way is to check the offers online, compare the prices and make your purchase.

However, this also means that you need to search multiple times, for each of the different kinds of insurance that you may need, so make sure to follow the general outlines of the types of insurance above so that nothing important is missed.

Final Thoughts

Being a dance teacher is a great way to stay fit and earn some good money at the same time, but it does involve some risk of injury to third parties, and property damage.

This is why it’s important to be protected.

Since you are working directly with people on the floor, which can be dangerous, the injury that might occur can be serious or even life-threatening.

In order to avoid having to pay out of your own pocket in case of accidents, settlements, and judgments from lawsuits, the best is to have liability insurance coverage.

It also is a sign to your customers that you are a competent teacher who is conducting your teaching properly and professionally – just what they are looking for when entrusting their family members into your care.
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