Are Players Really Prepared for NFL Lockout #10?

Nation's Top Insurance Lawyer Offers Best Play Against Insurance Lapse

March 7, 2011

With a $9 billion dollar pie to carve up and no one agreeing on how to slice it, NFL players have more at stake this week than just their salary. Insurance might not be at the top of their play list, BUT IT SHOULD BE. "Lockouts can linger and professional players must stay in shape; their livelihoods depend on jumping back into the game whenever this battle is over," says Frank N. Darras, the nation's top disability insurance attorney. "They can't risk an illness or serious injury during lockout. Players need to secure the right insurance protection individually during this period."

Continuing health insurance is crucial and can be accomplished by purchasing COBRA coverage if a lockout occurs. Even though the cost may run 800 to 900 a month, a lapse in coverage raises ugly pre existing condition limitations which could be catastrophic. Under the new healthcare reform act, insurance companies are required to allow dependent children to stay on their parent's insurance policies until age 26. The restrictions state, you can't have a job which offers insurance (which during lockouts players don't) and they must be claimed as dependents on their parents' taxes for that year. This might be a stretch for some players who are not yet 26 however, it is worth investigating.

More important, is securing enough individual disability insurance to maintain your lifestyle if a carrier ending injury or illness occurs during the lockout. "Injuries or severe illnesses during this lockout time are deemed "non-football related" and will not be covered under whatever coverage the league or the owners had provided," states Darras. "Now is the time to consider private individual disability insurance so they aren't dependent on the team or the union."

More specifically, private individual disability insurance with an Own Occupation Clause would ensure their financial security now and in the future. Individual disability insurance is the only choice because with their own coverage comes rich consumer remedies.

The Own Occupation part of individual disability insurance states that if they can't perform the important duties of their occupation they are entitled to their monthly benefits even if they could do some other work for gain or profit. If a quarterback is injured and can only handoff, a material part of their occupation is throwing the ball down the field. If they were unable to throw, own occupation coverage would pay them their monthly benefit even if they could coach or do other work. Without this own occupation designation on the policy, a player could remain productive and work in the NFL, without a loss of benefits.

Other components to consider when buying a private disability insurance policy should be:

  • Buy as much as you can, as early as you can so you can lock in cheap premiums
  • Re-evaluate the amount of coverage with every contract signing. As players make more money, they should increase coverage to match any increase in salary and incentives.
  • Make sure to buy individual "guaranteed renewable" and " non-cancelable" disability policies. The insurance company will not be able to change the contract language, cancel coverage or increase the premiums.
  • Read the fine print and make sure all questions are answered before purchasing the policy.

While no one wants to see this standoff prolonged, it is an excellent time for players to shore up their options for insurance – particularly disability insurance as they are in a high-risk profession. If a claim needs to be filed, seek a seasoned veteran – a top disability lawyer to help get the benefits they deserve, says Darras.