The 113-day NHL lockout that finally ended last week, only days away from the cancellation of the entire 2012-2013 season begs the question…are professional sports stars protected financially while the battle ensues? Most people realize that players aren’t getting paid during these periods of endless argument, but chances are the average person (and the players themselves) aren’t too terribly concerned about that. They have a savings, after all, and some of them make more in a year than most of us will in a lifetime. The real danger comes when you consider the risk these players make when they keep training during the lockout, but aren’t covered through the team’s insurance. A career-ending illness or injury could mean kissing that savings goodbye.
So what’s a player to do? In most cases, players are given 30 day notice of a qualifying event (in this case, a lockout) and then have 60 days to elect to convert to COBRA coverage. The catch-they must have a COBRA policy before the qualifying event. While the cost of COBRA runs high, around $800-900 a month, the coverage is well worth the protection it provides players and their families during an uncertain time. After all, this is their financial future we’re talking about.
For pro players, their physical ability is their biggest asset…it’s their job. That’s what makes injuries like RG3’s so terrible. Not only did it cost the Redskins the win against the Seahawks, but playing through an injury could be detrimental to the career of an otherwise great player.
I encourage RG3 and every other pro player out there to purchase individual/private disability insurance. This coverage will last through a lockout, unlike team sponsored group disability coverage that generally ends without an opportunity for players to convert to individual coverage.
And one of the biggest mistakes players make when purchasing disability insurance is not including an Own Occupation clause. This clause states that if they can’t perform the important duties of their occupation-say being able to throw the ball for a quarterback-they are still entitled to their monthly benefits even if they could do some other work for gain or profit. This protects players from taking a HUGE pay-cut if they are injured and unable to play the position they are currently in. Otherwise, their insurer could argue that they aren’t entitled to benefits because they can still work for minimum wage at McDonald’s.
Picking the right insurance plan is tricky, but now is the time for pro players to evaluate their options. A contract renewal is also the perfect time re-evaluate the amount of coverage a player has to reflect their current standard of living. Insurance is a must for players who rely on the game to pay their bills.