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What is Martial Arts Insurance

Updated: Sep 9


So what is Martial Arts Insurance? There is still so much naivety surrounding this, so let’s try & shine a light upon it.

Under Health & Safety legislation, whether you teach full time, part-time, consider yourself a hobby Instructor, have a large class or a small one, you have entered into the scenario whereby you are inviting the public to participate in a contact sport. You are legally responsible for the welfare of each student, individually and as a collective. You are subject to ‘normal practice’ and ‘due care’ of anyone teaching a contact sport – Football, Rugby, Boxing, Martial Arts all fall definitively into a contact category.

This means that one member has physical contact with another. It doesn’t matter what the level of contact is – contact is contact! Putting two students working together with pads is contact.

Putting two students to train a technique, regardless of power, is contact.

Putting two students together to stretch each other is contact.

Putting two students together to light / technical spar each other is contact.

It is assumed you have a syllabus.

It is assumed you have experience in your style to teach it.

It is assumed you are able to take a beginner and progressively develop them to techniques which start easy and become harder as their capability demands.

It is assumed that you can teach right up to an advanced level.

By law anyone open to providing a service to the public requires Public Liability. If part of your service involves tuition, then you require Professional Liability which includes Public Liability.

You require the following insurance to teach Martial Arts

Martial Arts Professional Liability

This protects you.


It should include Professional Liability – this covers the scenario that should as a result of your teaching, a member decides that due to negligent instruction, they have incurred an injury, they can sue you. Your insurance takes care of that cost, up to the amount of cover which you have chosen.


It should include Public Liability – this covers the scenario that should as a result of your teaching, a member of public decides that due to negligent instruction, they have incurred an injury, they can sue you. Your insurance takes care of that cost, up to the amount of cover which you have chosen.


It should include Product Liability – this covers the scenario that should as a result of either your recommendation or of you selling a product (uniforms or protective equipment as an eg) and a member decides that purchase has caused them harm, they can sue you. Your insurance takes care of that cost, up to the amount of cover which you have chosen.

As standard it should include up to Full Contact competition and weapons. Blunted metal weapons should be included, live blades are excluded, but I feel that’s understandable!

Years ago, we would all use Martial Arts specific policies, which are tailor-made to include everything we need considering the nature of our sport. Nowadays, there are some general sports policies that may possibly cover you, often at a lower price however, this is insurance, you will always compromise on something if you pay less. The most common compromise in the very very small print of some of these policies is contact.

How anyone can teach martial arts with no contact, I have no idea, so for me, some of these policies may feel nice on the wallet, but you may as well not bother as if there is an incident involving contact, you will still have to sell your house to cover the costs!

Do whatever feels best for you, but please know where your compromise is – make sure you are equipped to ask the right questions…

Martial Arts Student Licences

Martial Arts student licences will protect the student and protect you from negligently not putting this in place


It should include Member to Member Liability – Should one member harm another member, the injured member can sue. Their insurance takes care of that cost, up to the amount of cover they have.


It should include Public Liability – Should a member harm a member of public, injured person can sue the member. Their insurance takes care of that cost, up to the amount of cover they have if they have selected the right level of public liability insurance.


It should include General Third Party Liability – Should a member damage the building you are in, the venue can sue the member. Their insurance takes care of that cost, up to the amount of cover they have.


It often includes Personal Accident – this is a small compensation policy to cover injuries incurred through training, it’s not obligatory, for example, Boxing and Football often do not include this, but it is common within martial arts.

This part of the cover however is the bit that causes the most confusion. Instructors often think this is all the licence covers and consider that it isn’t necessary – this bit of the cover isn’t necessary, so that’s true, but the other aspects are obligatory.

As above, as standard it should include up to Full Contact competition and weapons including blunted metal weapons.

MMA gyms sometimes misunderstand some of these requirements – often licence providers will not provide this service for the MMA community, that’s just a naivety about MMA. The licence provider sector is mainly ‘old boy network’ and when MMA became popular, many companies simply didn’t like it, so wouldn’t deal with this genre.

This left many MMA instructors thinking they either couldn’t or didn’t have to arrange licences for their students. This have left this sector really vulnerable, if you teach MMA you still require licences!

Many more traditional styles are left with the impression that it’s just a money making scandal – I cannot stress strongly enough that regardless of your impression, or experience, or passed down understanding, if you teach Martial Arts, you need this insurance! I often hear from instructors “students won’t pay for it” or “I try to tell them but they don’t want it” or “people cannot afford it”.

This is my response. They don’t have a choice. You shouldn’t give them a choice. It is not a choice.

You are a professional, you teach, you operate a club, no matter how small, you invite the public to participate in your service.

Give them a trial lesson.

Tell them how much your membership costs and tell them the membership includes the licence.

Give them the cost.

Shut up…!


If they question it, you say, we are compliant and we run professionally, the membership includes a licence, which includes insurance and under Health & Safety, we are obliged to implement it.

Most people actually appreciate that you operate professionally, this actually serves your brand, because you do things properly,

which infuses trust that you are good at the rest of what you do.

If your students feel like they trust you and that they are part of something authentic, with direction and that they belong, you are more likely to attract and retain them.

The better your retention is, the less marketing you have to do to replace lost students.

The longer they stay, the more chance there is that they will upgrade how many times a week they train.

The more students who train more often, the higher the standards become.

The higher the standards, the more likely you are to attract more students.

It simply makes selling yourself easier in the first place.

There are lots of places to get martial arts insurance, we happen to be the best in the UK at looking after you, but really, I don’t care where you go, just please make sure get it!

Well, of course I care a little and of course we would rather you come to us…

Shameless pitch aside, please just take this seriously!

A great example is, if you were a football coach you would be regulated by the FA – to join the team, parents and players simply don’t have a choice but to pay for this. It is simply delivered that way, how often do you think this is questioned? It poses the question that the delivery of this is where the challenge is, not the actual obligation…

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