Are Players Really Prepared for the NHL Lockout? Nation's Top Insurance Lawyer, Frank N. Darras, Offers Best Play Against Insurance Lapse

September 18, 2012

For the second time in eight years, the owners have locked the NHL players out. There were no formal talks Sunday, the first official day of the lockout, and neither the league nor the NHLPA has committed to any face-to-face negotiations.

With the 2012-2013 season in jeopardy, NHL 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 being ready to jump back into a shortened training camp when 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 applying immediately for COBRA coverage. 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. Health insurance coverage is vital for players who are again in a lockout and depend on their health for a living. The key here is coverage must be added before the "qualifying event", in this case a lockout.

More important for players, is securing enough individual disability insurance to maintain their lifestyles if a career ending injury or illness occur during the lockout. "Injuries or severe illnesses during this lockout time may be deemed "non-hockey related" and may not be covered under whatever coverage the league or the owners had provided," says Darras. "Now is the time to consider private individual disability insurance so they aren't dependent on the team or their union."

Private individual disability insurance with temporary and permanent total disability coverage with an Own Occupation Clause will ensure players financial security now and in the future. These features protect the player from short term and career ending injuries even if they can do some other work for gain or profit. This coverage should be updated at every contract signing to reflect the most recent salary and bonus so their full benefits are insured.

Considering this is the league's fourth shutdown in twenty years, players should consider their options for insurance-particularly disability insurance due to their high-risk profession. "Hopefully, this lockout will resemble the NFL's most recent lockout with only one preseason game cancelled rather than the last NHL lockout which cancelled the entire 2004-05 season. Remember, if an injury or sickness occurs during the lockout and a claim needs to be filed, seek a seasoned veteran-a top disability lawyer to help get you the benefits you deserve," says Darras.