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Policy matters: sports insurance for coaches and athletes.

Accidents will happen. Consequently, so do lawsuits.

Oddly enough, like people who walk around without health insurance, there remains a segment of the coaching fraternity that is not educated to the importance of having sports insurance to protect against general negligence, bodily injury, and property damage.

"What most people don't understand is that they are putting their personal assets at risk," said Caroline Florez, director of marketing for Summit America Insurance's Coaches Choice Program for Sports Camps/Clinics. "Say somebody is injured, your assets are on the line if you don't have liability coverage for those activities. A lot of time coaches know that they have coverage through their university or through their high school or organization, but they don't understand that if they are coaching on the side, that the level of their insurance policy may not extend to those activities. They have to make sure they have the liability coverage and the accident/medical for the kids."

With off-season sports camps and clinics in vogue, coaches need liability and accident insurance for the camp/clinic he or she is going to conduct. Many insurance companies offer a very simple program for the coach to access. Furthermore, commercial general liability insurance will most likely be required of the coach by the landlord--school, city, and facility--wherever the camp/clinic will be held.

"It's vital simply because as we have grown as a society, we have become more litigious by nature," said Lou Valentic, Chief Marketing Officer for K & K Insurance. "And therefore there is always a transfer of risk and concern in any type of sports activity. That being said, that transfer of risk is going to be the need for a commercial general liability insurance policy. We have designed the all-encompassing product that takes care of the inter-participant from an accident perspective and the coach from a liability perspective."

K & K has a variety of insurance programs, including its Sports/ Camps and Clinics Program. Basically, the coach is protected in the event that one of the campers decides to file a claim for negligence or bodily injury - a kid slides into second base breaks his ankle and blames the coach. K & K also offers accident insurance for the camper, which is included in the program.

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"How we distinguish between a camp and clinic is, a camp is an event that is longer in nature," Valentic said. "It might be a weeklong football or soccer camp at the local university and held from 9 a.m. to noon. Or it might be an overnight camp, where kids stay in dormitories all week. Clinics are more of a one-day, two-day short-term type of thing. It could be the local minor league baseball team is hosting a free clinic. Well, just because it's free doesn't mean you don't need insurance."

Tom Swei, director of marketing for Gagliardi Insurance, which specializes in sports and entertainment, says that the general liability is a legal requirement that most of the coaches understand. But he noted that his company still field's questions by those who remain confused, such as "What does it cover?" And, "Will it cover if I do this, that, or the other thing?"

"Often times we will have people asking us, 'I have this big field behind my house, can I have a practice there?' And the answer is no, because our insurance is actually excess over the property insurance," said Swei. "Should there be an accident, the first thing someone would go after is the person's homeowner's insurance. Whereas, if you're on a stadium or practice field, the high school insurance is in place first and there is a certain level of regulation and procedure over that field."

According to Jeff Struckle, director of sales and marketing for Summit America's College and Intercollegiate Sports program, that blase attitude exists on the collegiate level as well, where many institutions forgo insurance for their athletic programs.

"There are some schools that choose not to have an insurance program," Struckle said. "Some of them believe that they can get away with just saying that student-athletes must have their own insurance before they can participate. That's a challenge. But every institution is different and has its own philosophy of what's best."

Kelly Meyers, Vice President for Borden Perlman Insurance, which is primarily involved in intercollegiate programs, conveys that sports insurance can be a tough sell. But most athletic departments are smart enough to purchase an insurance policy to offset a student-athletes' medical expenses.

"For the most part they do, because it is a financial liability for them if they don't have it," said Meyers. "Say you send your son to Fordham University, which is a client of ours. And he plays football and gets injured. You're going to expect Fordham to take care of the medical expenses. Medical expenses are on the rise at about an average of 8% a year for medical inflation. So it can be quite expensive."

Following is a breakdown of some of the programs several of the leading sports insurance companies offer:

BORDEN PERLMAN

WWW.BORDENPERLMAN.COM

The company provides several programs for colleges from NAIA up to NCAA Division I, including its Excess Accident Medical Program, which is in excess of any other valid and collectible insurance

The NCAA schools need to have up to a $75,000 medical maximum. After the $75,000, the NCAA member institutions get a catastrophic policy that covers up to $20 million. If you're an NAIA school, you need to buy catastrophic insurance above your basic insurance. The basic insurance is covering the "basic injuries."

Cornell University, a Borden Perlman client, had a catastrophic injury this past season, as a player on the men's basketball team suffered a spinal injury.

"We insure 450 schools around the country and over 18 years we can count on one hand the number of catastrophic injuries," said VP Kelly Meyers. "Maybe three."

The deductible varies by school. The intent at most schools is for student-athletes to have no out-of-pocket expense.

GAGLIARDI INSURANCE SERVICES

WWW.INSURANCEFORSPORTS.COM

Gagliardi has introduced a Catastrophic Medical Program for national youth football that covers up to 18 years of age. For about $3.75 per participant, you can increase the coverage limit from $100,000 up to $1.1 million. The way that is done is by having a very high deductible, which is covered by the underlying $100,000 medical insurance purchased by the league or organization. (The out-of-pocket expense varies from $100 to $250).

Depending on the size of the organization, Gagliardi does its due diligence to provide a specific quote based upon your risk. The company then works with the organization to help reduce the risk by doing simple things like formulating a checklist before taking the field, making sure there is a medical trainer on the premises, that all of the activities are properly supervised, and none of the equipment is unsafe.

Gagliardi introduced a similar program last year for baseball. The bridge to increase coverage from $100,000 to $1.1 million is $1.25. And that's because baseball is considered a non-contact sport.

Aside from a general liability programs for the teams in the league and medical for the kids, Gagliardi offers equipment floaters to protect the equipment from vandalism and theft, as well as employment dishonesty coverage.

K & K INSURANCE

WWW.KANDKINSURANCE.COM

K & K's Sports/Camps and Clinics Program is available for 20 different sports/activities, including cheerleading, hockey, gymnastics, football, basketball, and baseball.

Pricing is rated on a per participant, per day rating basis. For a clinic or day camp, it's $1.62 per participant. A weeklong camp/clinic is $4.89 per participant, per week. Overnight camps are $6.52 per participant, per week.

There is no deductible on the liability insurance. In the event of an injury to a child where the parents primary insurance doesn't cover the expenses, K & K's accident insurance, or excess medical, would become primary with a $100 deductible on each claim. The limit on the accident policy is $25,000 per claim.

K & K also offers coaches coverage for instructor's liability for a non-bodily injury type of claim. This is valuable to coaches who could be sued for something that they do or don't do. For instance, a parent filing a claim whereas they hold the coach responsible for what is perceived as a lack of quality coaching and instruction for their son or daughter.

For this particular scenario, K & K provides general liability insurance to the instructor who might be doing some private instruction at a facility he or she might be leasing. Premiums start at $276 per instructor and up to $518 per instructor, depending on what limit of insurance they buy.

SUMMIT AMERICA INSURANCE

WWW.SUMMITAMERICA-INS.COM

The liability policy for the Coaches Choice Program for Sports Camps/ Clinics is $1 million per occurrence. The medical component is $25,000. A coach applies each year and is provided annual coverage. If a coach holds more than one camp a year, they should notify Summit America of the new dates and pay any additional premium, if any applies.

The minimum premium on the camp policy is $240. There is also a per participant cost, depending on whether it's a one-day clinic or a five-day camp. The daily rate per day, per participant is $1.62. For a day camp, it's a weekly rate of $4.89.

On the intercollegiate side, Summit America offers two different products.

The Catastrophic Insurance Program handles severe injury cases for student-athletes. For an NAIA or NJCAA institution, there is a $25,000 deductible. Once that has been met, the program, offered through Mutual of Omaha, provides $5 million worth of benefits for a lifetime.

The Basic Athletic Accident Medical Insurance Coverage protects the NAIA and NJCAA institution between the $0 to $25,000 deductible. NCAA institutions are a little bit different as the catastrophic insurance is written with a $75,000 deductible.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:FACILITY FOCUS
Author:Newell, Kevin
Publication:Coach and Athletic Director
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2006
Words:1664
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