When you step onto the court, pitch or course as a professional athlete, you put your body on the line. It’s how you earn your keep. So, even a minor disability is potentially a major problem.
Whether your injury is contact-related, repetitive motion or heaven forbid, career-ending, you need to protect yourself.
Even if you’re not one of the highest-paid professional athletes, you need to protect your salary.
- Am I considered a professional athlete?
- Do I need professional athlete health insurance?
- What should I look for in a policy?
- What benefits can be included?
- What benefits are generally excluded?
- What determines the cost my health insurance?
- How can I reduce the cost of my policy?
Am I Considered a Professional?
Many providers class professionals as those receiving any fee, whether it’s a donation or ‘benefit in kind’ from participation in their sport. ‘Participation’ is seen as playing, coaching, or training at club, county, national or international levels.
Do I Need Professional Athlete Health Insurance?
As a professional athlete, you will want disability insurance. Whether you are starting out or in the prime of your career and in need of high-limit coverage. Getting the right policy is vitally important.
The underwriting of athletic disability insurance is not usually handled by traditional insurance providers. So you might need to search a little harder but there are some very good insurers out there.
In some sports like golf and tennis, top athletes often buy/arrange their own insurance. Hopefully, that won’t be the case for you.
What Should I Look for in a Professional Athlete Health Insurance Policy?
You want the best possible treatment that will protect your livelihood and get you back to work ASAP. When shopping around, make sure you find the best policy that, in the event of an injury, will cover:
- Your projected future earnings
- Cost of an agent or a manager
- Lost contract completion
- Loss of endorsements
What Benefits Can Be Included in My Policy?
There are different levels of coverage and sometimes you can pick and choose what’s covered. Many of the most common benefits are listed here:
- Sports injury cover
- Access to a responsive customer service team that handles your claims
- Convenient private hospitals (single private en-suite rooms, menu choices, flexible visiting times. Sometimes providers have several levels of private hospitals that vary in level of cost, depending on the premium-rating of that facility.)
- Medical facilities that have experience in sports injuries
- Sports physiotherapists and facilities with specialized treatment like hydrotherapy
- Direct payment of hospital bills by provider
- High-quality and timely advice and communication
- Out-patient benefits
- Touring player cover
- Health & Wellbeing Services
- 24 Hour GP Advice Line .
- Mouth Injury – accidental loss of teeth whilst participating in the chosen sport. Re-implanting the natural teeth is covered. As is the cover to reconstruct the dentition.
- Worldwide travel insurance that covers medical emergency cover whilst abroad
- Free booking service for elective surgery (that is not covered by your policy)
- Family coverage
- Active Life Programmes – Individually tailored guides to help athletes reach their health goals. These can also be called ‘Health & Wellbeing programmes’. They offer support information, programmes for those with specific sports or training goals and even care programmes for preventing illness and/or managing existing conditions.
What Are The Exclusions?
Professional Athlete Health Insurance have similar exclusions to the health insurance policies mere mortals receive. Exclusions can run from GP service to general dental practitioner and vision testing to sleep disorders.
This is where reading the small print or the Terms and Conditions is so important.
But, There Are Some Pre-Existing Conditions That Can Be Covered…For a Price.
Pay an additional premium to extend your cover to include some pre-existing conditions.
The list will most like differ from provider to provider and in some cases, you may choose up to two of their outlined conditions.
One provider included examples or groupings that would be allowed such as acne and diabetes or asthma and hypertension.
Generally, there is an annual limit of what the providers will cover cost-wise for these conditions. Usually around £1,000.
And usually, this limit will roll-up year after year to a maximum of £10,000 over 10 years. In most cases, this roll-up is only allowed if you have taken no breaks in your coverage during that period.
What Determines the Cost my Professional Athlete Health Insurance?
Along with the astronomical professional athlete salaries, the cost of covering such a valuable asset has too. Take, for instance, a sports team that has offered guaranteed contracts. If one of their star athletes gets injured, even temporarily, the team could face huge losses. For that reason, the insurance costs are just as influential as TV contracts or ticket sales when it comes to the economics of the business.
“The bigger hazard may be underestimating the chances of pricy athletes getting hurt.” (The Economist)
As mentioned above, make sure whatever policy you choose will compensate you even if you are one the most highly-compensated athletes in your field. And one that allows you to live the lifestyle you’ve become accustomed to.
Many providers offer several levels of private hospitals that will vary in cost, depending on the premium-rating of that facility.
Underwriters follow a different pre-determined set of guidelines for each sport. The risk inherent in your sport is a determining factor. More contact and greater risk of injury and/or greater risk of very costly injury push up policy costs.
Often a 1-4 risk rating system is used to fairly price professional athlete insurance policies. Low-risk sports such as Darts or Angling = level 1. Whereas, Downhill skiing and Skydiving, considered the highest risk, are therefore rated = level 4.
How Can I Reduce the Cost of My Insurance?
Excess – Choose a higher or larger excess. The policy ‘excess’ is the amount that you agreed to pay towards the cost of a claim. For instance, if you chose a £500 excess per treatment claim, for one eligible claim cost of £5,000, you would pay the first £500 and your provider would pay the rest – £4500. The larger the excess the lower your premium. Ask for comparison quotes when you shop for coverage.
Private Hospital – Choose one of the lower-level private hospitals that still offers excellent care but not all the extras.
Team Insurance – Sometimes a provider can arrange to cover an entire team. This then lowers the cost of each athlete’s policy.
Pre-Existing Conditions – Do not include the pre-existing conditions option.