Reasons Why Insurance Should Not Be Overlooked With Joe Fagan

By Catherine Kontos@KontosCatherine

RB 18 | Insurance

 

There are several reasons why insurance should be a priority. Catherine Kontos sits with Joe Fagan, the Director of Strategic Partnerships at Gallagher. Joe explains that, as a business operator running a retreat, the risk falls on you. If you hire a yoga instructor and a person gets hurt, you’ll be involved in the lawsuit. Even if the yoga instructor you hired is an independent contractor, you will still be included. So it’s best to plan ahead to minimize risk and losses. Join the conversation to learn how you can protect your business. Tune in!

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Reasons Why Insurance Should Not Be Overlooked With Joe Fagan

Joe Fagan is the Director of Strategic Partnerships for beYogi, an affiliate of Arthur J. Gallagher and an affiliate partner with RetreatBoss. Joe, welcome to the show.

Thank you, Catherine. I am excited to be here.

We have been in collaboration for a little while now in reference to retreats and insurance. We discovered you by chance with all the great social media that you have. We knew right away that these are professionals, the type of people we want, our retreat leaders to work with, and we contacted you. It has been a great relationship since. I am so happy to have you here on the show. I would like the readers to know more about you and beYogi. How did it become what it is now?

Thanks for the opportunity to speak to your readers and for giving us a forum to be able to talk about what we find so important and what we love to do. Also, thank you for the wonderful partnership. I started back early on in 2010 when we first launched into the liability insurance business. What I mean is our company have been in the health and wellness space for many years.

In fact, we own a couple of publications. We own Massage Magazine and Chiropractic Economics Magazine. What we found early on in the 2000s was a very underserved market offering liability insurance directly to independent health and wellness practitioner. What we did that was somewhat remarkable was we changed the way insurance was purchased.

We built a technology that everyone uses now, but before that, if you wanted to buy liability insurance as a yoga instructor or as a massage therapist, you had to go to a local agent and fill out a lengthy paper application. It would take them a couple of weeks, in general, to get an underwritten and they would charge you several hundred dollars. Nowadays, you can go right online. It is almost like going to Amazon and buying a widget. It can take literally three minutes or less. You do not have to talk to a human and you can be covered with millions of dollars worth of coverage for under $200.

The timing in the market and the technology we built fueled our success, but the final piece of the puzzle, which has helped us out is forming wonderful partnerships with companies like yours to help us to get exposure to the proper markets that we are serving. Also, on the flip side to help, in some cases, negotiate discounts or member benefits for our customers, which they benefit greatly from.

 

RB 18 | Insurance
Insurance: In most cases, state regulations will require you to have some additional insurance.

 

From what I understand, everything that we have spoken about in previous discussions is you do deal with American-only practitioners or professionals, correct?

Our policy is bound to a country code like policies are. Every country has different laws and regulations around insurance and other things. It is hard to get a policy that travels across country code. Like most policies, ours is for the work that is within the United States. It will follow the instructor or the practitioner anywhere within the United States as long as they are practicing.

They are not covered if they leave the US, is that correct? If they do a retreat or some job in the UK, would that cover them or not?

Under our current policy, no, but what we recommend if somebody is going to do a retreat is to bring our policy to your local agent. Let them take a look at what you are covered for and have them write up something that will mirror that coverage overseas. There are also various companies that offer specific travel insurance that is always worth looking into as well.

What does independent liability insurance mean exactly in this scenario, for let’s say a yoga instructor?

Liability insurance is insurance that covers typically the negligence of the yoga instructor. We focus on the independent contractor. Let’s say if you are a business owner and you have W-2 employees, in most cases, state regulations will require you to have some additional insurance. You are going to need to buy a business owner is policy, which is a lot more costly and requires some additional things maybe workman’s comp, business interruption, and things of that nature. If you are, however, a single business owner or an independent contractor, in most cases, our program will cover all of the liability you might need to run your business. I say might because there are always extenuating circumstances.

I always caution people to make sure they are asking the right questions and make sure this policy works for them. In general, our program covers everything that a business owner, a single entity would need. We include professional liability which is what covers them in case of negligence or if the person that they are instructing gets hurt and it is due to the negligence of the instructor. That is covered in our case up to $2 million per occurrence and $3 million per year. We also cover that general liability, which is a big one too. That is what a lot of people call The Slip and Fall Insurance. If there is water on the floor, they slip and fall, and hit their head, that is specifically covered under general liability. We cover that to $2 million per occurrence, $3 million aggregate.

Forming wonderful partnerships exposes you to the proper markets you’re serving.

Ours includes product liability. If any products are used in the scope of a session that causes an injury or burn, that is covered up to $2 million. Ours includes $100,000 of rental damage. That became important too because we found that a yoga instructor might be signing a lease. In most lease agreements, there is some requirement for liability insurance in case the place is damaged.

Ours includes $100,000 on that coverage. We also include, this is unique to ours, $1,000 of stolen or damaged equipment insurance, as well as $25,000 in identity theft. We added those because we realized that people that are getting certified in our industry started to become susceptible to cyber attacks. It has been a meaningful addition to our program.

I want to give you some specific examples. Tell me how and if they are covered in this case. I am a retreat leader. I am offering a retreat within the United States, but I am also a yogapreneur or a yoga teacher. Does it cover me for the other aspects, like the planning aspects or with the other suppliers? Am I covered in that case or is it what you mentioned and with the guests specifically?

That is a tough one to answer because it is fairly broad and general. The best answer that I can give you is that our program is designed to cover the practice of yoga instruction. There is a broad understanding that anything involved within the practice of yoga instruction would be covered under our program. For instance, this is not a very good example because we now cover mindful meditation, but at one time, we did not cover only mindful meditation. If it was a part of a yoga instruction practice or if you are doing mindful meditation as a part of your yoga instruction, that would be covered.

We did add on now specific coverage for mindful meditation. If you are a practitioner, we do cover you there. As long as it is under the scope of practice, what you talked about planning and such, that might fall outside of our coverage. That is where you might want to talk to somebody specifically about insurance-focused around retreats.

What about in this next scenario? I am a retreat planner or leader and I hire a yoga teacher or instructor for my retreat. As a retreat leader, should I require this person that I hired to have insurance? Would that be a good idea? Let’s hear what you have to say.

I am not saying that because we offer liability insurance for this space, but that is why we are in business. There is that need. Especially if you are a business operator running a retreat, the risk falls on you. If you hire a yoga instructor, something happens and that person gets hurt, in most cases, if there is a suit file, the suit is going to file. They are potentially going to sue, not only the yoga instructor but the business operator that is running the retreat where it is being held.

 

RB 18 | Insurance
Insurance: A business owner’s policy does not cover professional liability in most cases.

 

In those cases, what I recommend to retreat leaders or even studio owners for that matter if they hire a yoga instructor as an independent contractor, is not only to require them to carry liability insurance but have them add your business or your retreat on as an additional insured. There is normally about, in our space, a $10 to $15 fee for that. We charge $10 typically. What that does is it extends some of the liability onto the instructor’s policy before it would go to the retreat leader’s policy. Let’s say, if they did hurt somebody and that person decided to sue the retreat leader and the yoga instructor. The yoga instructor’s policy would be the first component that would cover both losses.

What if they are hired as part of the retreat instead of as a contractor? Is there a difference there?

The answer is there is a difference. There are a lot of cases where we might be able to cover all of the needed insurance under that. The reason I am cautious in saying that is that in many states, there are laws regulating what happens if you hire a W-2 employee. As a business owner there, if you are hiring a W-2 employee, you are going to need a business owner’s policy. That business owner’s policy is going to cover your business, the name on the door, some workman’s comp, and some additional things beyond what we do, but we still highly recommend that the instructor themselves would carry one of our programs because if a suit ever came in, it is going to hit their policy before it would hit the business owner’s policy.

In most cases, a business owner’s policy would extend general liability coverage and not professional liability. General liability is that slip and fall insurance. It is what most claims are. It is the professional liability that we call malpractice insurance, where due to the instructor’s negligence, they may have hurt somebody. In most cases, a business owner’s policy does not cover professional liability. It is even recommended in that case as well. The caveat there is that the business owner might need some additional insurances to satisfy state laws.

There are a lot of different things that people need to think about when they are offering retreats or any type of event. You do not only cover yoga instructors. I know you cover a lot of different other professionals as well. Can you name them so people can be aware of them?

In fact, the first business line we went into was liability insurance for massage therapists. Part of that is because we own Massage Magazine and we understood the market. We saw the underserved market and we saw the need there. Massage therapists under a brand called Massage Magazine Insurance Plus. We cover beauty professionals under a brand called Elite Beauty Society. Those beauty professionals are everything from hairstylists and makeup artists to aestheticians and everything in between. We have brand for fitness professionals called Insure Fitness Group.

We now also offer coverage for physical therapists under My PT Insurance and occupational therapists under My OT Insurance. We have also built a website called Career Shield Insurance where we now offer liability insurance for speech, language pathologists, audiologists, and dieticians. We are continuing to expand as we look into other markets.

If you’re a business operator running a retreat, the risk falls on you.

That is a big range of professionals. That is amazing. I did not even realize you had that many different coverages. I like giving scenarios because I want people to understand what factors are in place, what liabilities can be in place, and all of that very easily. One of the next things I had like to know, I have contracts covering everything. I have contracts with everybody. Including if something happens to you, “I am not liable to sign on the paper.” I do not feel like I need insurance as a retreat leader. This is the retreat leaders’ mentality. What would you advise with this person? What would you tell them? Do they still need insurance? If so, why?

That is a great question. It is one that we get all the time. What you are talking about is having all of your customers sign a waiver of liability. It is a heavily recommended thing to do. We highly recommend you get a Waiver of Liability. We also highly recommend you take your Waiver of Liability and run that by a general counsel and make sure that it is a strong Waiver of Liability. That is going to keep a lot of potential cases from getting filed and getting to a claim status where you have to file a claim. It causes a lot of disruption and a lot of problems. At the end of the day, a Waiver of Liability does not always hold up.

If there is real negligence involved, a Waiver of Liability is much going to be thrown out the door and then you are going to rely on that liability insurance to cover a claim. You can do everything right. You can make a mistake or something can happen. Somebody could trip and fall and hit their head. While we recommend waivers, you make sure they are tailored to your business and run by general counsel, but we highly recommend you also purchase insurance because they do not always hold up.

I had a lawyer right before you that I interviewed and everybody agreed. Get yourself covered in every way. Have the legal documentation and have insurance, but people try to avoid that cost. The cost of your insurance is not a lot at all. It covers them for a whole year, not only during a retreat. It covers them during their everyday client base. Is it online as well? Can they be covered or should they be covered when they are doing online events?

We have always covered not only live face-to-face instruction. We always covered live online instruction too. That was a piece that we were ahead of the game in offering coverage for. We knew that there were a lot of yoga instructors at the time that was doing instruction online. Once the pandemic hit, a lot of businesses shifted their business to these online models. In some cases, were growing their revenue or finding at least a way to offset the loss and decline of revenue once the pandemic hit. Once that happened, we reached out to our underwriters and they allowed us to add coverage at no additional cost for even prerecorded videos, and we are keeping that.

At this point, not only did we cover live face-to-face and live online, but we also, if you put a video out there and somebody gets hurt and they decide to sue you, that is also covered. An interesting point about that is most coverages that offer prerecorded coverage, there is usually some type of restriction, whether it is certain software that needs to be used or a gated entry like a locked portal. We do not have any of those restrictions. That has been very valuable to our customers.

It has gone a lot online. A lot of people are doing both, a bit online and in person. People do not think about it. They are like, “I am online. What is the big deal?” It is and you do have to be fully covered. What’s next? Is there anything that people should think about beyond their regular insurance that covers them professionally?

 

RB 18 | Insurance
Insurance: When you’re making a phone call to an insurance company, ask questions.

 

You said it does cover anything that is within their practice, but what if they do an excursion that is not necessarily, we will go back to yoga, yoga-related? It is a social experience to meet everybody and create a bond, loyalty to the brand, a perk that they are giving, or maybe they are going to a restaurant. Would that be covered if something should happen there or is that not covered?

That would have to be looked at, again, case by case. It sounds like, from that example though, that would potentially be outside of the scope of coverage. These policies are relatively very inexpensive considering the potential loss that could be incurred. There is specific language on when and what is covered under it.

For the most part, the line in the sand is if you are instructing yoga, you have started a class, or you are doing the practice of yoga, our program is going to cover the things that occurred during that. If you are going out to dinner with friends or doing some type of social event that is not yoga-related, our program would not extend coverage to that.

I wanted to clarify because some people sometimes do not read the small print or they do not understand it necessarily because there is a lot of legal jargon in there. Most people do not go to a lawyer to say, “Is this insurance covering me on ABCDEFG?” They will not do that. The best advice would be to read your insurance policy and see what is covered and talk to an agent. How can they understand what they are being covered for?

There is a lot of insurance out there, maybe some that are cheaper than yours, more expensive than yours, or other ones that offer more or less. How does someone who goes out there make sure that they are being covered for everything that they need and stuff they may not even know about? There are things that people do not know. What would your best advice be when looking for a company to get insured?

The best thing I can advise is to ask those questions. The first thing that I would do would be to make a list of everything that I am going to be doing in my practice, “Am I going to be practicing certain types of yoga? Maybe it is aerial yoga or a stand-up paddleboard yoga,” and then list out what all of these different things are. When you are making the phone call to an insurance company, ask those questions. We have more than one call center fully staffed with licensed agents who are ready to take those questions and legally answer them with the education they have been provided through their licensure. The big thing is doing an audit of what you are trying to do.

This is the same thing when you are building a liability waiver. When you are trying to create a waiver, you need to do an audit of everything that goes on. You need to layout what those risks are and what those outcomes are and put all of that into a waiver. You do not have to do that when you are buying liability insurance, but that process should inform your questioning when you are going to buy liability insurance. “Here is what I do. Do you cover what I do?” Not all programs are equal. I feel like we have created one that is broader than most to help cover all of these things that we have found that yoga instructors are doing within their scope of practice. In fact, I know that there are certain things that are even outside of our scope of practice. It is important that you ask those questions.

When you get waivers, make sure they’re tailored to your business.

It needs to be customized to your business. You need to make sure that the insurance fits what you want to do with your practice. Is there anything that you guys are excited about that is coming out soon? Is there anything new that you would like to tell the audience?

We realized that the interesting thing about buying liability insurance is you are buying a product that you hope you never use, which is a weird thing in general. It is part of what this is. We are there to cover you for an event that you hope never occurs, but we do realize that we want our customers to be able to use and interact with our programs and products more. We go to great lengths to build additional value into our programs. We are constantly forming partnerships and negotiating discounts that benefit our customers whether it is with yoga mats, continuing education, or retreats.

Once you enroll in our program, you get access to this full suite of member benefits that our customers benefit from and, in most cases, more than outweigh the costs in general of the liability insurance. If you use 2 or 3 of these discounts, you are making up for that cost of the coverage anyway. Prior to the pandemic, our small business was acquired by Arthur J. Gallagher, who happens to be one of the largest insurance brokers in the world. They have added tremendous value into what we do. They were able to take our economic scale and build out access to group rates on things like dental insurance, vision insurance, and telemedicine.

We have a concierge service that will help our clients walk through the ACA to find the best and lowest cost health insurance options. That is such a thing in our industry that a lot of folks do not have access to because they may not work for a major employer. We have gone to great lengths to help fill those needs. We offer this more as a membership package that is inclusive of liability insurance, employee benefits, and member discounts. I encourage anybody to go to our website, beYogi.com to take a look at all these wonderful partnerships we formed and all the cool discounts and treats you get with it.

One of the discounts that we created together is a discount to take the RetreatBoss Courses, which helped them plan profitable retreats and vice versa. On our website as well, we offer that discount for anybody who wants to get onto the beYogi insurance plan. It is a great partnership. People can benefit from a lot of that. It is amazing that you have created this membership where they can benefit from all these discounts. The cost of what you are offering versus the discounts they will get pays for itself, so thank you for that.

Thank you for being here and explaining all the nuts and bolts of what is involved in insurance, what covers you, and what you are not covered. I hope people do realize that keeping that safe space in their minds is something that they do not have to think about. If something does happen, they do not need to worry about it. Once it is covered, it is covered. I am looking forward to lots of interesting back and forth with you guys. I hope this podcast sheds light on a lot of different issues when it comes to the insurance world.

Thank you. I appreciate the opportunity. If you do not mind, I do not mind mentioning it to the crowd. We did form a wonderful partnership and through that partnership, even readers of this or folks that are customers of RetreatBoss, in general, do get a discount on our program. A way to access that would be going to www.beYogi.com/RetreatBoss.

I know I kept mentioning call and ask questions. If you go to that website, it will tell you the phone number. That number is (888) 285-8691. We are prepared to answer any questions that you have. We feel that it is very important to have somebody not only answer the phone but be friendly and answer any questions that you have. We are delighted to do so.

Thank you for mentioning all that, Joe. It is very important that they know where to go to and I hope they do so. Thanks again. Until next time, I am looking forward to speaking to you again.

 

Important Links

 

About Joe Fagan

RB 18 | InsuranceJoe Fagan is a licensed property and casualty agent working as the Director of Strategic Partnerships for beYogi an affiliate of Arthur J Gallagher. beYogi is a provider of affordable membership programs inclusive of liability insurance, employee benefits, and business tools and resources for health and wellness professionals.

Through its affiliates, Gallagher supports yoga teachers as well as fitness instructors and massage, occupational, & physical therapists. Joe’s passion is collaboration and his mission is to foster long-term business relationships designed to ignite growth for all involved.

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