Within the martial arts environment there are two essential types of cover that both students and Instructors should have. These are the Personal Accident type policies which give a person cover for personal injury and Liability insurance to cover against third party claims for negligence under Common law Tort for loss or injury.

Personal Accident (PA) Cover

You'll find the same, broad areas of cover with these type of policies. One area provides what are called capital benefits and pays a lump sum in respect of certain permanent injuries - including the very permanent one of death! Typically, this would be in the region of £50,000, the payment covering Death, Loss of Limbs or Eyes, and Permanent Total Disablement.

The second area of cover is Loss of Income, paying a set weekly amount, usually up to 52 weeks with a couple of week's excess before payment starts. Given the low premium, this payment is not large, but can usually be increased for an additional premium.

The third area of cover is that of Medical Expenses and covers a host of situations such as physiotherapy costs, overnight stays in hospital, dental and optical expenses cover. For the premium these are quite generous payments, often up to 75% of the costs of treatment, but with a maximum payment figure.

Lastly, there is some payment for you breaking bits of your body! The payments are a token gesture but are there.

Liability Cover

Probably the hardest area of sports insurance for people to get their heads around and the main issue to understand is that the need for this type of insurance differs between a student and an instructor. The liability cover provided for a student, alongside their PA cover is for what we can call general liability, in other words, cover for the general dury of care that one person owes to another which if breached can open a person up to a claim for damages - loss or injury.

In UK common law, there is a principle that basically states that when it comes to engaging in activities that hold risk and the potential for injury, then a person takes on that risk and cannot then sue for damages if they are subsequently injured. This, in Latin, is the principle of "Volenti Non Fit Injuria" and means that where two people are engaging in a risky activity, where the potential for injury is accepted, then should an injury occur the injured party cannot sue the other player.

This is why in the UK there is NO 'member to member' (as this situation is typically, but incorrectly known) cover available which, more properly should be known as 'participant to participant.' An example may help because there is in fact member to member cover available; for example where two martial artists turn up to train and one puts his bag on the floor at the top of the stairs, which trips someone up, sending them headlong down the stairs, then this is covered under the member to member section of the policy.

HOWEVER - should those same two students be training together on the mat and one injures the other there is no 'participant to participant' cover in place for the very simple reason that under Volenti the injured student cannot sue, therfore no cover can actually be provided. The principle of Volenti accepts that the situation changes if one person grossly steps outside the accepted bounds of the rules of the sport which would, in fact, pretty much move the action to be a criminal assault.

Moving to the cover an instructor needs this is substantially different from that of a student. Because of the position an instructor holds he (using the term to cover male and female if no one objects), owes student a higher 'duty of care' than that equal duty one student owes to another.

An Instructor in their 'exalted' position owes this duty of care not only in respect of what they might physically do, but what they may forget to do, say or forget to say. This results in cover under two specific types of insurance - Public Liability (PL) and Professional Indemnity (PI) respectively. Claims that result in them being dealt with under the PI section of the instructors liability policy are rare, by far the vast majority arising to be dealt with under the PL cover.

Most claims against instructors have no substance and there is no automatic payment to an injured student under an instructor's PL policy as it must be proved that, in some way, the instructor was negligent, not that an injury occured in what would be considered accidental circumstances and within the expectation of the sport.

That having been said, we see claims arise where no negligence obtains, but these still have to be defended even if, in the fullness of time, they go nowhere and without an insurance company to take on this financial burden of dealing with the claim an individual could be thousands out of pocket through no fault of their own.

Most PL/PI policies have a basic cover that will start at £5 million and £1 million respectively.

Details of the cover, costs and terms of reference can be found in our BCA information brochure or phoe or email for a brochure.

Ancillary Cover

A number of out instructors organise events, for which suitable cover can be obtained. many venues will not hire their facilities unless a person can show they have the appropriate cover in place.

Cover for club equipment is also available where such equipment is kept within club premises.


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