Yoga Insurance: The pros and cons

Yoga Insurance: The pros and cons | Insurance Business Canada

Yoga Insurance: The pros and cons
In every Canadian city, town and any hip locale, yoga studios host instructors eagerly followed by flexible students seeking alignment.

However, yoga instructors have had some considerable troubles in the past.

Learn more about yoga instructor insurance here.

In 2015 a University of Ottawa instructor had her class shut down because of concerns around cultural appropriation, a dispute that turned into a national story at the time.

Then there was the case of the founder of Bikram Yoga who lost a massive class-action lawsuit for sexual assault in the US.

But who insures the yogis and studios popping up above your favourite coffee shops?

Lackner McLennan broker, Chris Stark, who specializes in covering 128 modalities of yoga, is one of an increasing number of players in the market.

Not only is the yoga industry and the demand for insuring it growing at an accelerated rate, Stark said, the trends change faster than the insurance can react.

For example, practicing yoga among a herd of goats is big these days, while yoga as a form of therapy is the most interesting development from an insurance perspective according to Stark.

When asked what advice he would give to brokers trying to break into the yoga insurance market, Stark advised “have a big bank account.”

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“It’s very expensive, I spend tens of thousands of dollars a year on advertising… You have to have a lot of staff dedicated to taking the time,” Stark said.

“It’s not regulated, there are very few associations. The yoga teacher, they want to talk to someone. You know your home and auto broker because they live down the street from you, you don’t really know your yoga insurance broker because we’re all across the country.”

Some of the biggest claims involve tripping over shoes (taken off at the beginning of class), slips on wet floors, fainting in hot yoga or suffering injuries from doing poses they’re not trained to do.

Some yoga instructors have been billing themselves as counsellors for PTSD, whiplash, depression, and marital issues, something Stark said changes the risk equation.

“We’re a week away from getting approval for our first counsellor yoga policy - two months ago we got the first phone call and now we’re getting 20 calls a week for this. Insurance doesn’t move that fast,” Stark said.

“There’s a whole set of risk involved with counselling, how do we underwrite that? The claims that come from counselling are being transposed to yoga.”

The studios themselves have coverage options too.

Curiously enough, the studios’ largest claims involve cars crashing into them because many of the venues are in strip malls.

Stark said being involved in the segment takes constantly refreshing yourself on the industry, answering lots of emails and talking to those in the market on a regular basis.

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