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Five Problems Colleges And Universities Face When Selecting Disability Insurance Coverage For Premiere Athletes

The NCAA made a recent historic decision to allow its members to purchase career-ending disability insurance for its early-round, draft-bound athletes and allowed college athletes to borrow against future earnings to purchase these plans. The decision itself is a triumph, because it has the potential to benefit not only the athlete, but the college or university as well. However, when ill-informed decisions are made without consulting an expert, the Morgan Breslin lawsuit saga becomes more than just a passing headline.

Why elite college athletes should have loss of value insurance/career-ending coverage

The benefits of draft slot protection and career-ending disability insurance extend well beyond the obvious. These high-stake policies offer student-athletes the possibility of returning for another year of college eligibility without the worry of losing it all, if disaster strikes and a career-ending injury occurs or a lesser injury or sickness causes their draft slot position to plummet. The advantages of returning are obvious; elite student-athletes can stay in school another year or possibly earn their degree. Both scenarios would better prepare them for a life and career beyond professional sports.

However, enticing elite athletes to stay in school another year or finish their collegiate studies is very advantageous to the school as well. When star players stick around, good things can happen:

  • Increased sports media attention
  • A conference title may be attainable
  • A bowl or championship bid can become a reality
  • Greater cable and TV revenue may flow to the school or the conference
  • Increased morale for underclassmen when watching a Heisman winner be crowned or a teammate drafted professionally in the early rounds
  • Improved stature in the eyes and ranking of the school’s recruiting classes

The college or university would seriously benefit from any of these scenarios when their star collegiate athlete sticks around for another year or stays for their senior season. Fortunately, schools now have the means to motivate their athletes to do so:

Option one: The player can purchase a policy through the NCAA Exceptional Student-Athlete Disability Insurance Program. In this scenario, player can get NCAA-approved bank loans to pay the insurance premium, and the bank gets paid back with interest once the ranked player in the draft signs professionally.

Option two: The school could consider funding the premium of either a NCAA-sponsored or privately purchased policy by using the Student Assistance Fund.

Option three: Elite college players can also go to the private market to purchase private individual career-ending coverage or drop in projected slot protection.

However, the process gets tricky, and that’s how a Morgan Breslin misstep takes place. Colleges and universities need someone on their side who is familiar with what types of athletic protection insurance are available, what pitfalls to avoid in the selection, application and submission of a claim to ensure the athlete gets paid and the school doesn’t get sued.

5 problems colleges and universities face when selecting disability insurance coverage for premiere athletes

1. They don’t know what they’re buying.

Are the schools buying the very best policy with all the features, advantages and benefits available, either through the NCAA or the private market? These career-ending and drop in slot protection policies aren’t one-size-fits-all. There are multiple companies competing domestically and internationally for the athlete’s business, which places the student and the universities helping the student-athlete at an advantage. Leveraging the expertise of someone familiar with the ins and outs of these high-stake insurance policies for elite college and later professional athletes can help ensure they make the most of that opportunity.

2. They don’t know they can negotiate for better policy language and a more comprehensive policy.

Are the colleges negotiating the best possible insurance policy with the least limitations and benefits for the athlete? Does the policy have riders and exclusions? Is the coverage comprehensive enough to meet the player’s needs? Many universities don’t understand the legalese, catchphrases and the death squeeze they will encounter if they sign up with standard language. An expertly negotiated policy that tailors to the needs of the athlete and minimizes the amount of exclusions and limitations may increase the likelihood of timely payout.

3. They don’t understand the issues that can arise from an imperfectly completed application.

Carriers have a field day when they find omitted or partially submitted misinformation on an application. If a claim is made, insurers often cite that misinformation and call it fraud. When the carrier plays the fraud card, the policy will be rescinded and the policy premium is refunded with interest, but the athlete won’t see seven figures of benefits. Further, if the rescission sticks, the athlete will have to disclose on future applications for life, health, or disability insurance that they have had a policy rescinded, which will surely affect their credibility and increase premiums.

A disability expert familiar with these applications, claim forms and policy language can help bulletproof the purchase, avoid fraud allegations and get claims paid promptly and fairly.

4. They’re making fatal claim mistakes because they don’t understand the landscape.

Omission, falsification and misrepresentation of information contribute greatly to denied high-stake disability insurance claims. Lloyd’s of London allegedly denied Morgan Breslin’s claim because of material misrepresentations, omissions, and/or concealments regarding his health in his application, or the alleged failure to notify insurers of changes in his health prior to the issuance and delivery of the policy on all future coverage.

This carrier move is one of the many tried and true insurance claim denial strategies athletes and colleges are often unfamiliar with. An expert attorney who knows and understands the ins and outs of the disability insurance industry can help colleges and their athletes submit a thorough, accurate claim and promptly receive their rightful benefits.

5. They’re not looking for the right kind of attorney to assist with policy review and claim help.

Rather than go to a seasoned national disability insurance lawyer that has dealt with these policies, athletes get a recommendation from friends, family or their school for a local attorney. It’s important to find an industry-recognized attorney with a national presence and a history of success who serves elite, college and professional athletes and offers free policy analysis, free case evaluation and free claim help.

Injuries are a guarantee in sports, but the emotional toll and financial devastation of a denied high-stake disability claim don’t have to occur. Any college or university that wants to position its elite athletes for success needs an experienced and nationally recognized disability lawyer with a proven track record of athlete representation at their side when purchasing, applying for or claiming benefits.

DarrasLaw is Americas' most honored and decorated disability litigation firm in the country. Mr. Darras has seen more, evaluated more, litigated more, and resolved more individual and group long term disability and long-term care cases than any other lawyer in the United States.

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