What’s the difference?
Cheerleading is no longer simply a group of girls jumping and yelling along the sidelines of a ball game. It’s a performance sport that has exploded with nationally televised cheer competitions and even big screen movies about cheerleading. This expansion has led to competition cheer squads that go head-to-head for recreation and cheer gyms that are in the businesses of teaching cheerleading and building cheerleading groups for major competitions.
A point of confusion that we encounter when reviewing cheer insurance applications is whether the group is a competition cheer squad or a cheer gym. It is vitally important that the correct insurance coverage is written for the organization and their specific exposures.
Making the determination
Six questions that we always have to ask are:
- Are membership dues paid monthly, quarterly, once per season, etc.?
- Is the organization’s facility owned, a long term lease, private, etc.?
- Is the organization cheering for one team or a competition squad?
- How are the coaches compensated?
- Is the organization a 501c3 non-profit?
- Does a board of directors oversee and run the organization?
We understand that not all applicants fall clearly into a competition squad or cheer gym category, but these questions allow us to make an educated assessment of the needs of the organization and provide the correct cheer insurance coverages.
A cheer squad typically pays fees once per season, uses school/local facilities, cheers as a squad for sporting teams, and is coached by volunteers. A cheer gym usually pays monthly dues, owns or has a long-term lease for a facility, cheers strictly in competitions and pays coaches a salary.
The factors few people take into consideration
There is a difference in premium cheer squad and cheer gym insurance premiums for good reason. The typical cheer squad is exposed to participant and coach injuries. Coverage is provided for the cheer squad itself as well as for the volunteers. Cheer gyms have a much greater risk of exposure than a cheer squad. The following points are taken into account when determining exposures of cheer gyms:
- The operation or long-term use of a facility creates a property exposure for anyone that comes onto the property and sustains a premises-related injury.
- Some cheer gyms provide extra services, such as private lessons, birthday parties, after school programs and/or soft play areas.
- Being run as a business means the coaches of cheer gyms are considered experts in the sport of cheerleading. This increases the standard of care owed to the participants and the bodily injury liability exposure.
- A professional liability exposure may result if the participant of a cheer gym sues over not being offered a college scholarship, or other expected benefits due to improper coaching.
Being under insured is just as risky as being uninsured. The cheer gym owner/trainer can lose personal assets, future earnings and even their business in the event a lawsuit arises and the correct coverage isn’t in force. No cheer gym owner should take the risk of losing everything in the event of a devastating injury resulting in lawsuit in order to save a few dollars on premium.