The CrossFit Risk Retention Group Insurance

By Russell Berger with Lisbeth Darsh and Lynne Pitts

In Affiliation

March 31, 2009

PDF Article

A Risk Retention Group is a form of self-insurance. Unlike a traditional insurance company, an RRG is formed and owned by its policyholders, and covers specific liabilities and actions, as defined by the RRG, which are most likely not covered by any insurance you’re going to be able to get. As mysterious as that might sound, RRGs are common practice for law enforcement officers, doctors practicing emergency medicine, contractors, medical product manufacturers, and a variety of other professionals in high-risk industries.

The important part of all this insurance jargon is that CrossFit will form its own independent company. This company will not be owned by CFHQ; it will be owned by YOU—the community, our affiliates and trainers. The owners will participate in underwriting, risk management, claims administration, and finance committees, all chaired and populated by people from our own community. We will have complete insight to and control of all facets of the RRG operations.

The CF-RRG was designed to fill a dangerous chink in our armor, and in doing so it serves an even more foundational goal: defense of our reputation. Think of the CF-RRG as our war chest, providing the resources to protect our community, methodology, and the trainers and affiliates whose livelihood depends on CrossFit’s success. It was also designed to guarantee that affiliates and trainers will be able to obtain insurance, and that insurance won’t be canceled when the insurance company gets skittish about what it has read in the media about “the dangers of CrossFit.”

Folks, at the moment, the RRG is for US affiliates only; more to follow for our non-US team, but please don't sign up if you're not in the US. Thanks!

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48 Comments on “The CrossFit Risk Retention Group Insurance”


wrote …

To clarify, the RRG stands on its own as the insurance required to own an affiliate? We don't need outside insurance + the RRG, correct?


wrote …

So is it a Mutual Insurance Company? If it's not, then what is the difference?


wrote …

Marina's in. Thanks for starting this folks. It is much needed and head and shoulders above the standard protections available from insurers. The breadth of support provided by a program like this is completely different from the "defense" offered by traditional insurance.


wrote …

Please clarify, is this available to Canadian Affiliates?


wrote …

I am working on getting CrossFit Estes Park (Colorado) up and going but struggling with insurance. As soon as I have the money saved up we are in.
I will have two level I trainers by May (currently I am the only one). I think this is an excellent idea and it is time.


wrote …

I'm in as a trainer and future affiliate owner. One of the hardest parts for me is finding insurance without having to defend myself.


wrote …

I am also interested in the insurance but am wondering if it is valid/available in Australia.


wrote …

Nice. I view this as essential to the future of CF and am glad to see it finally come to fruition.


wrote …

My email to the support address supplied has been rejected twice:

Delivery to the following recipient failed permanently:

Technical details of permanent failure:
Either the list you are posting to doesn't exist or you don't have have permission to post.

Here are my questions by comment instead:

What are projected annual premiums for individuals and affiliates?

What is the coverage for and/or relationship of individual trainers under their insured affiliate? What is the benefit of individual coverage if a trainer only trains at and within their already insured affiliate?

What "specific liabilities and actions, as defined by the RRG" are currently covered and/or expect to be covered? Is it limited solely to catastrophic injury/loss of life lawsuits? Are property claims and such also included?

Thank you for addressing these questions, either by email, or through site posts or forum posts (if through the site or forums, I would appreciate an email indicating so).

Thanks for all your continued hardwork!



Andy Petranek wrote …

A $1,000 investment in my livelihood is miniscule relative to the potential consequences of not investing. When I look at the amount of money I've had to pay to CrossFit to support my business and my life over the past 4 years, the total amount is under $6,000... this is such a ridiculously small amount it's CRAZY. Ask any other business owner associated with an organization or franchise.

As a coach, I am constantly telling my students that my job is to empower them to be the masters of their universe in relation to their life and their health and fitness. The way I see it, the RRG will empower US to be the masters of our own universe, and will give us the ability to continue to do what we all so love to do.

So yes, I am absolutely going to invest, regardless of the cost of additional insurance. $1,000 invested now to enable me to continue to practice and preach the CrossFit gospel without the worry of frivolous lawsuits is money VERY well spent. I encourage all other affiliates to follow suit... buck up; you can't cheat the universe; you've got to pay to play and this is a very low price for your life!


Brian Sharp wrote …

Sounds like an excellent plan. Well done whom ever came up with the idea.

Just echoing the questions from the Canadian & Australian Affiliates: Will it apply to non US affiliates? - Assuming it does, I'm in.

Will there be a way of tailoring the cover to comply with the various legal requirements in different territories?

Will the RRG be laying down standards that must be adhered to to ensure coverage? E.g. Have the risk of Rhabdo explained and signed off by client with a disclaimer etc.

Is there any plan to offer low cost personal insurance to individual Crossfitters who may be training at an Affiliate in the same way martial arts clubs do (at least here in the UK) incase one client hurts another and is sued? My Karate insurance/ license cost me £20 a year.

Will an individual trainer's insurance premium go down with increased qualification/ experience?

Will there be limitations on what a CF trainer can teach without having the CF courses signed off? E.g. Do you have to have done CF's Oly lifting course to be covered for Oly lifting at your affilitate?




wrote …

I am also very interested but as Richard said - Would this hold up in Australia?


wrote …

I have the same questions as Daniel Mick. I am glad to see the CrossFit Community addressing this issue.

What are projected annual premiums for individuals and affiliates?

What is the coverage for and/or relationship of individual trainers under their insured affiliate? What is the benefit of individual coverage if a trainer only trains at and within their already insured affiliate?

What "specific liabilities and actions, as defined by the RRG" are currently covered and/or expect to be covered? Is it limited solely to catastrophic injury/loss of life lawsuits? Are property claims and such also included?

Ready Go.


Russell Berger wrote …

Great questions from everyone,

I'm going to make an effort to answer some of them, but expect some much more qualified people(CrossFit's insurance experts)to step in and clarify/correct my information.

"What are projected annual premiums for individuals and affiliates?"

The estimated average yearly premium for an Affiliate will be 1500.00 - generally close to or less than what many of us currently pay. Keep in mind that this is based off of the size and membership of each box.

"What "specific liabilities and actions, as defined by the RRG" are currently covered and/or expect to be covered? Is it limited solely to catastrophic injury/loss of life lawsuits? Are property claims and such also included?"

The CF RRG is designed to absorb risk from injuries and claims of trainer negligence. The laws that regulate RRG's don't allow them to insure things like property or worker's comp.

"Just echoing the questions from the Canadian & Australian Affiliates: Will it apply to non US affiliates? - Assuming it does, I'm in. "

Yes- at least to my understanding

"Will the RRG be laying down standards that must be adhered to to ensure coverage? E.g. Have the risk of Rhabdo explained and signed off by client with a disclaimer etc."

-The RRG will be paired with greater rhabdo education in level 1 certifications, and some amount of standardization will be added to legal forms used by affiliate members.

"Is there any plan to offer low cost personal insurance to individual Crossfitters who may be training at an Affiliate in the same way martial arts clubs do (at least here in the UK) incase one client hurts another and is sued? My Karate insurance/ license cost me £20 a year."

The CrossFit RRG is a low cost liability insurance for individuals as well as affiliates. I'm not familiar with the model you speak of, but the example you have given would be something covered by the RRG as either an individual or affiliate policy.

"Will an individual trainer's insurance premium go down with increased qualification/ experience?"

No - to my understanding

"Will there be limitations on what a CF trainer can teach without having the CF courses signed off? E.g. Do you have to have done CF's Oly lifting course to be covered for Oly lifting at your affiliate? "

Absolutely not. The CrossFit level one certification will remain the only necessary course required to become a trainer, affiliate, and RRG member.


wrote …


Thank you for the additional insight. I am in the fortunate position of needing GL/property coverage before finalizing my affiliate paperwork. SO, my question is obviously, how soon can we purchase coverage?

I have to echo the same point Andy made above, as an insurance agent by day, I feel the options we have for the "big" exposures is sketchy at best. Forming a RRG to protect the things you hold dear is a great idea. We need to make sure to remember our "boxes" will not be the only item at risk in the event of a lawsuit. Attachable assetts are easily found and your families CAN be affected.

For me $1,000 seems an awfully minimal amount to help ease these all too real situations. Besides who better to defend you than fellow CrossFitters ? They are the toughest people (mentally and physically) I have ever met.

Richard-CrossFit Centex


wrote …

Hopefully this does apply to Canadian and other affiliates outside the USA.


wrote …

Interesting stuff. They're not in the process of hiring actuaries are they :)


Edward Stedman wrote …

WOW! Once again, the CrossFit community comes together to help one another, increase its strength, and more firmly secure its future success.

I am attending my Level 1 Cert in May, and I was beginning to think about insurance and what all I would need as a trainer. On top of that, I am hoping to affiliate sometime in the future, so the forming of the CF-RRG is absolutely excellent.

I also have many of the same questions posted above, plus some others. Will there be a comprehensive article or document made available with exactly what the CF-RRG will cover and what it won't? Also, Russell mentioned that there will be a more comprehensive discussion on Rhabdo at the Level 1 Certs. When will HQ start applying this to the Level 1 Certs?

Again, this is absolutely brilliant, and much appreciated. Thanks to all those who, I am sure, put in hours of their time to organize and create the CF-RRG!


wrote …

I for one am excited by this oppurtunity. I appreciate Greg and Laurens commitment to the community and the needs we have to make our gyms safe and to protect the brand.

We would love to write our own policy - we offer several forms of traiing here at GSX and being able to deliver on all of these skills training along with providing CF. Being insured at a better rate will allow for us to continue forward with great success.

We have paid 16K a year for insurance here at GSX and that covers us from Tae Kwon Do, Birthday parties, special events, tumbling, gymnastics, rock climbing, to CF and more. After hearing we can add to our insurance ryder and cultivate a custom policy that fits us and have a savings was good and welcome news. It will be nice to have the savings in insurance premiums and take a trip to Cabo with the savings!

The 1k is a simple drop in the bucket for us and we look forward to having an insurance company that has our best interest at heart with proper protection for our clients, trainers, and GSX... Insurance is a necasary evil - and thanks to the CF - RRG for recognizing how to empower us all.

As for the rest of our community in CF - you need to see the value and realize how we as a community bonded in solidarity under such an insurance umbrella will allow us all to do what we love to do.

My two cents.

GSX CrossFit
Ft Worth, Texas


wrote …

Excellent article Russell.

Thank you Greg and Lauren Glassman for your unending support and tireless work for your affiliates, this is amazing, CrossFit Flathead is in.


Russell Berger wrote …

some clarifications on my previous answers can be found on the CF message board RRG thread, currently being worked by Lisbeth Darsh and Dale Saran:

On the question of Overseas Affiliates, posted by Lisbeth:

- "For the overseas questions, right now we will only be able to provide for coverage in the US. Once we get the RRG funded for the US (and up and running) we'll be able to examine the question of overseas policies."

On Trainer/Affiliate relationships, posted by Dale:

"It is $1000 for an affiliate to buy in to the RRG: that is capitalization and will get you stock/ownership in the RRG. Your trainers will be covered as long as they are acting in the scope of their duties at your box. However, they could, if they wanted, buy into the RRG as well at $200 for their own stake of ownership and they would have their own policy if they trained folks away from your box."

I'd recommend that Affiliates posting questions on the Journal comments review the RRG thread on the affiliate message board first. You might find your question has been answered already.


wrote …

As a physician who has had to buy liability (malpractice) insurance my whole career with premiums that are ever increasing, I can attest that this is the best deal that affiliate owners and trainers can find, and provided to you buy folks who really care about your welfare and success. Jim Rooks, MD avid crossfitter Crossfit No Limits


Dale Saran wrote …

Folks - from the lawyer - one major alert and then some answers.


The RRG does NOT cover overseas or non-US affiliates yet. It may in the future, but it won't to start. Very sorry, but it has to do with insurance regulations outside the US.


Now to answer some more questions, in no particular order.

1 - There will be some risk mitigation requirements for people who buy into the RRG as part of the underwriting guidelines. We will provide those to you but they're not onerous. I remember rhabdo awareness as one, but not some of the others off the top of my head. Actually, looking at your questions, waivers signed by clients were part of the guidelines (we've already written those), as well as providing proof of amount of business (in order to determine premiums), IIRC.

2 - For clarity - An affiliate owner's policy will cover trainers who are (a) working at the box and (b) are in the scope of their duties. Thus, an affiliate owner does not Need to capitalize in each trainer...HOWEVER... if an individual trainer would like to buy ownership in the company for the future to be able to get a policy separate from their affiliate owner's, then that is great and would cover them outsider of their owner's box.

3 - The $1000/200 buy-in will get you an ownership stake in the RRG. You will receive shares of stock. That will make you eligible to get a policy and premiums will therefore be separate. Premium rates will be based upon busines, size, etc. They will be very comparable to what exists in the industry. Eventually we hope to bring those down IF we pay few claims and are sufficiently capitalized. We're not going to be AIG. But that will depend upon what you, the affils and trainers who sit on some of the Committees, decide.

4 - WHAT WILL THE POLICY COVER? Once the RRG is capitalized and approved in various states, it will start writing policies. Now, here's the technical stuff boiled down. The RRG itself will write policies that will cover what we call Errors and Omissions. Let me drop a definition here - think of this piece like malpractice insurance for lawyers or doctors. Sometimes you may recommend a course of action to a client in your professional discretion as a trainer. It may be perfectly valid and one that we all would recommend. The peron may still get hurt (rhabdo, round their back on a DL and hurt a disc, etc.). The RRG wil cover that and defend that, if necessary. This is the piece that is currently missing from most policies and most of you probably aren't even aware of its absence/exclusion from your policy. Wrapped around that policy will be what you can think of as a standard, commercial liability policy for slip and fall, property, someone drops a kettlebell on their own head or foot and on and on. They fit together - snugly - because WE helped write the policies that way by working with the insurance provider we have who helped us set this all up.

5 - In conjunction with 4, the complementary policy will have its own premium, but we've set up a mechanism that it can be billed "singly" and you'll get one envelope, so to speak, with the two policies enclosed.

I hope that answers your questions. I look forward, as the Secretary of the RRG, to working with all of you. Yes, I was volunteered for the job by everyone else at the meeting. This is what happens when you're looking out the window and not paying attention. ;-) (kidding).


Matt Charney wrote …

Ok I'm in but, I have not completed my lvl 1. I am registered for a June certification. Can I buy in now as a trainer to help reach the funding requirement? If so & I decide to affiliate later this year will I have to buy in for another $1000 or will the intitial trainer buy in count towards my future affiliate buy in?



Russell, I can't find the RRG thread on the Message Boards. Can you provide a link to it.



wrote …

This is fabulous news! Thanks so much to Greg and Lauren, and all of the HQ staff for their work on this, and all their efforts. Ours is a community like no other - thoughtfulness, generosity, and extensive knowledge abound! How fortunate! Sign CFNRV up!


wrote …

Funny I was just thinking about this. I'm still a student, doing crossfit style pt at the moment out of an independent sports center/public gym in Aus. I have to do some rubbish qualifications so that some extortionists will continue to recognise me as a personal trainer and keep me insured. I'm hoping 2 start up my own affiliate once I'm financially independent and I couldn't imagine having to pay to sit through some idiot telling me how to run a body-pump class or equivolent thereof every year.

Should be a handy option as long as it works in Australia. If not, someone should start one here.


Russell Benedetto wrote …

The day my future affiliate goes on paper count me in......Awesome!!!!!


wrote …

Color me jaded... I thought this had something to do with it being the first of April.


wrote …

Second on the forums thread. No amount of searching revealed it.

Thank you for the answers to my questions and others already in this thread! I'm in as an individual trainer (how could I NOT want another piece of CF and/or coverage?). I look forward to seeing more details fleshed out, wherever that thread may be...


Cody Limbaugh wrote …

I believe the forums thread on this is located on the "Affiliate-Only" forum. So, not an affiliate = sol. :)


wrote …

Okay, so i guess this will not be a Mutual Insurance Company? Is the $1000-/$200- capitalization only good now or can we buy in later when we get our level I cert? Also, is this buy in only good unless you're a level I cert?


wrote …

Sounds like a wonderful concept. However will affiliates/trainers involved in lawsuits be unfairly targeted by lawyer's who know there is this insurance covering them? Ive heard of nurses who have had additional insurance to cover them while at work. Once involved in a lawsuit the lawyer's target those nurses knowing that there is a greater chance of getting payment from them then the physicians which are usually backed by the hospitals they work for.
Just a thought.


wrote …

Where will the RRG be domiciled? Do specific state laws impact the RRG at all?


wrote …

Hi I am from Italy and thank God we don't have these problems here. You are covered. Period.

BUT I am leaving for the US in two days in order to...spend my holidays training in a CF facility and this article prompted me to look up my european travel insurance policy and, to my surprise, I found out that it doesn't cover things like oly weightlifting! And that's exactly what I am going to do...

DOES ANYBODY know any travel insurance I can buy within 2 days from now which would cover cf activities for 15/20 days?

please help me I don't want to be uninsured in the US! Your health system is out of control :-)))).



The RRG will be domiciled in Montanta, hence Todd Widman's important role. RRG law is regulated on the federal level, and the CFRRG will be individually registered to operate in every state, so state law will not effect your policy.


wrote …

Greetings from CFSE:

While we are very very very careful about ramping up our clients into our Group Classes, (we require 5 Elements classes and approval before entering classes) we have slept well to date additionally by having a waiver that has language to the effect of "I hereby waive, release, and discharge the affiliate from any and all liability...including acts or omissions of the affiliate..."

Our document, crafted by an attorney, spells out in detail rhabdo, musculoskeletal injury, et al...

How is this document treated in the context of a lawsuit? In the context of our existing carrier, whom I suspect many have currently as they market specifically to CrossFit, and require this type of release? In the context of the RRG?

Appreciate the reply from anyone in the know.


wrote …

I'm still a little unclear on the premiums for individual trainers. Russell Berger hit on it briefly, but only gave numbers for an affiliate. Is this to imply that no specific premiums have been determined for trainers?
I'm also in the category of not having found anything on the boards. I think I'm in the wrong place for the message boards, as I found no link for the affiliate forum.


I am with Bart. Someone said the Message Board Thread regarding the CF-RRG is on the Affiliate Message Boards. However, seeing as the CF-RRG is being marketed to Trainers, as well as Affiliates, the trainers need the access to all the information. We want to be able to see the questions being posted and the answers being given.

This is such a great idea, but we all need to be able to have our questions answered, and have access to all the information and discussion on the topic. I know this is only day two sine the CF-RRG was announced, so I am sure more information is on its way.


wrote …

Here's the initial reference letter from the insurance company that our affiliate insures through, (not to be construed as a plug, just info) and we feel pretty safe with it, as they require a waiver both to mitigate their losses, as well as provide support for the affiliate. That being said, the CF-RRG is something that we'll definitely look into and get--it's only a matter of time before the next big Makimba style headline, which could threaten all the affiliates if picked up by main media with traction.

Anyone else out there scratching their heads that currently has been feeling pretty confident not only in their training, safety protocols, and waiver that is now concerned about a gap in coverage?

See below, from our current carrier (copied and pasted from correspondence from them to us):

"Our agency name is Hayward Tilton & Rolapp Insurance Associates, Inc. We are the insurance agent that is facilitating the CrossFit affiliates with their insurance needs. Our main office is located in Anaheim, CA. Joan Kay-Kolbe is the Account Executive for the gyms and she can be reached directly at (800) 432-7515; main branch, or via email: I assist Joan with new business and can be reached directly at (800) 800-3041 x4016 (satellite office located in Pasadena, CA) or via email:

The program available through Sports & Fitness Insurance Corporation on behalf of Safeco provides the coverages required by Crossfit – general liability as well as naming CrossFit, Inc as additional insured; includes professional liability for the trainers as well as the ability to cover off premises workouts. The total annual premium is based on sales and the rates are very competitive. There are some requirements to participate in the Sports & Fitness program. The gym has to be under your exclusive use and control. You cannot share space with any other entity. Also, there is minimal gymnastics activity allowed. Use of rings and floor level tumbling only. Your trainer would be covered while working for or on behalf of your business entity only. If the trainer took any side jobs or took on personal clients not through the gym, then the trainer would need their own coverage.

To start with general liability and property; we have attached a blank Sports & Fitness application. Please complete, sign and return both to us via email address or by fax to (626) 795-4881 and we will request quotes. We have also attached some marketing materials that provide additional information regarding the program. Please call if you have questions, need help with the application or would like further discussion. We look forward to working with you!

Debbie Stoughton

Executive Administrative Coordinator

Hayward Tilton & Rolapp Insurance Associates, Inc.

2700 E. Foothill Blvd. Suite 302

Pasadena, CA 91107

Direct telephone: 626-243-4016

Fax: 626-795-4881

CDI License #0614365


Questions related to the RRG are being rounded up and added to the FAQ.


This is extremely exciting! Coach Glassman and the entire HQ staff I think that RRG is an awesome solution! Now EVERY Financially able Affiliate needs to step up and support RRG. This is not just a way to get insured this is also a way to speak loudly to the Exercise Industry how strong the CrossFit Movement is. We will not be stopped! My money is in!


wrote …

The importance of the RRG (AKA; smart business)

CrossFit as a whole (you and me) is waging war. Our battleground is the health and fitness landscape. Our opponent is the Globo Gym. What's at stake is the future of fitness in the world. Oh, yeah, the winner's share of a $78 billion industry.

And here's why the RRG is of vital importance aside from insuring your a$$ doesn't get handed to you if someone does one-too-many rhabdo-inducing pullups after indulging in their birthday bash...

Our opponent will not go quietly into the night.

To think the Globo Gyms might just let us take what they have come to expect (income) is inane. Globos make money (not necessarily profit, nor fitness, but that is another post) and that money is, I suspect, being used to line the pockets of two major players. The conventional insurance industry and government officials are those players.


Because, in battle, an opponent will do anything to win. Especially if their lively hood (again, income) is on the line. You would too, maybe.

Here’s how it works… a $78 billion industry is being threatened by an upstart through loss of market share. Market share they cannot get their hands on. And due to the effectiveness of the upstart the Globos will NEVER get that market share back. And it’s only getting worse. See the upstart is growing at an unheard of rate. 300% over the pat 18 months. So the Globos read something about this Rhabdo case in the paper and immediately put a call into their insurance providers. Yes, plural, they use many providers and pay them a lot of money. And on that call the Globo tells the insurance company to “do something about the upstart because they are threatening our cushy lifestyle, er, I mean causing the permanent damage done by the evil rhabdo.” The insurance providers read the writing on the wall… their biggest client is risking loss of business which threatens the profit of the insurance companies. So the insurance companies have a dozen lobbyists in Washington DC. And those lobbyists lean on the legislators who are sympathetic to their cause.

How long do you think it will be, if we don’t take hold of our future, until nonsensical laws are passed covering the health and fitness industry? And don’t be surprised if adherence to those laws is only able to be met by large companies with deep checkbooks.

That’s IF we don’t take our future business in our hands.

The RRG puts our future control in our hands.

The RRG changes the game.

If you are an affiliate that has read this and you want to insure you future success join the RRG. I am.


replied to comment from Jeff Tucker

Tucker I hope you dont use it all up...


wrote …

I think this is GREAT and I'm really excited about the potential in this program. I do have a couple financial questions though:

1 - The $1000 buy-in is just to buy "stock" in the RRG, correct? To actually purchase a policy, there will be additional fees in the $1000-$1500 range per year for an affiliate?

2 - Do we have to own stock in the RRG to purchase a policy?

3 - If we own stock in the RRG, is this like any other stock? Will we receive dividends if the RRG profits? Do we have the ability to sell that stock at a future date if we choose to?


Philip Mancini wrote …

If the idea of the RRG is superior to the standard insurance coverage available to the beginning affiliate, the fear mongering sacrificial lamb talk isn't necessary. To be honest, it's insulting.

How many claims have been paid out by CrossFit affiliates in the US, who have insurance through other companies? The Makimba Mimms lawsuit was well documented and referenced on the main site, but I'm sure there must be other claims that didn't receive as much publicity. I think that would be a valuable insight and much more persuasive in bringing more affiliates into the RRG fold.


wrote …

Does tis cover Affiliates that have CrossFit Kids?


wrote …

Thoughtful article , BTW , if your business require to merge PDF files , I came across a tool here

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