As Bleacher Report Talks about Darkhorse Contenders in the 56th running of Daytona 500, DarrasLaw Founding Partner offers advice as to why everyone in racing should have rock-solid disability insurance policies.
February 20, 2014
According to Bleacher Report, there are plenty of replacement cars on the track at Daytona, and there need to be. The first session in Wednesday's Sprint Cup Series practice at Daytona International Speedway was cut short after a multi-car crash occurred on the frontstretch. (Bleach Report, Daytona 500 2014, Darkhorse Contenders to win it all, February 20, 2014).
Fox News reports that Rookie Parker Kligerman, who was one of the seven drivers involved in the accident, slid on his roof down the frontstretch after he made contact with Paul Menard. Kligerman's No. 30 Swan Racing Toyota went on top of Menard's No. 27 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet and then plowed into the SAFER barrier and catchfence before it rolled over onto its roof. (Fox News, Multi-car crash interrupts Daytona 500 practice, February 19, 2014)
"Injuries aren't limited to the track but can happen off the track just as easily. Disability insurance doesn't discriminate based on where the injury occurred, just that it affects the ability to work," says Frank N. Darras, America's disability insurance lawyer to the pros.
Bobby Labonte, a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver with 21 career wins, broke three ribs after a bicycle accident and suffered lung damage, causing him to miss out on three weeks of racing. Drivers need the income protection individual disability insurance will provide for those times when an injury keeps them off the track.
Darras says that disability insurance payments can help cover extra costs that health insurance won't, like rent and utilities along with food and clothing for the family. Consider Formula One champion Michael Schumacher who injured his head while skiing with his son and has been in an artificially induced coma since late December. Brain injuries are extremely serious and require extensive rehabilitation. While he is disabled, his family has the potential to use disability benefits to cover their expenses. (ESPN Formula One, Schumacher undergoes brain surgery, December 30, 2013)
Most importantly, disability insurance covers athletes in the event they are injured while racing, like Dario Franchitti was, at the Grand Prix of Houston in 2013. Franchitti has undergone multiple surgeries on his right ankle but also suffered a concussion and two broken vertebrae as a result of his crash. On the advice of his doctors, Franchitti decided to end his racing career to prevent a more serious injury in the future. The monthly benefits from a private disability insurance policy would keep him living in the comfort he is accustomed. (NASCAR.com, Crash injuries force Dario Franchitti to retire, November 14, 2013)
"For pro athletes in such a risky sport, the safety of the drivers is never a sure thing," says Darras. "What if a crash like Franchitti's was more serious and caused his driving career to end? Own-occupation policies aid professional athletes in protecting their income should they be severely injured and are unable to work in their chosen career. "
Take for example, driver Tony Stewart. He was in a vicious wreck during a sprint car race in Iowa last Aug. 5. According to USA Today, NASCAR superstars' performances often dip precipitously after serious injuries in their 40s, Stewart is in his early 40's. His fans hope his leg heals enough so he'll be able to use his agility and skill to maneuver the car and race again. If he is unable to partake in racing again due to his leg injury, an own-occupation disability insurance policy would provide him with monthly benefits whether this was his first year racing or his twentieth, says Darras.
Private "own-occupation" disability insurance tends to be the main choice amongst professional athletes. The policy pays benefits based on their specific "own-occupation" regardless of whether they find a job elsewhere such as contributing to a sports network as a broadcaster. These private disability benefits pay even if they can supplement their new income in a new separate occupation.
"After making 521 consecutive starts in NASCAR's premier series, Stewart has missed 15 races. And while the prolonged absence might not carry the physical risk it would for athletes whose agility and speed can be robbed by being hurt, it still leaves much at stake for the driver-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing," (Is Tony Stewart up to speed? Injury return could be tough: USA Today, February 14, 2014).
While Stewart is a good example of a driver who can make a comeback, others aren't so lucky and must rely on the benefits from their individual disability insurance policy while they search for another job with a different skill set, says Darras.
"Consulting with an experienced disability insurance lawyer is in every pro athletes best interest. Discuss how much insurance to buy so you can receive a fair amount based on your salary and incentives. Make sure you review the fine print with an expert along with examining any loopholes that may be written into the policy," says Darras.