Countdown to Daytona 500: What Professional Drivers Need to Know to Protect Their Incomes
As with any sport, the risk of injury for racecar drivers is high. So what happens when a driver is injured and can’t race for several months? An injured driver will miss out on the racing purse as well as bonus pay from both NASCAR and their racing sponsors. To protect their incomes, drivers need to know how private insurance can work for them, especially disability insurance.
Not only is disability insurance a necessity for pro athletes but life insurance and health insurance are equally important as well. For the protection of their high incomes, athletes can expect high premiums due to the elevated likelihood of injury. Drivers die every year whether it happens through NASCAR events or other racecar driving incidents. Life insurance will support the family of the driver in case of a sudden death. If the driver suffers from an injury, a good individual disability insurance policy will help cover the loss of earnings if the injury is chronic.
“NASCAR driver Jason Leffler did not have a life insurance policy when he died almost a year ago,” says Frank N. Darras, America’s insurance lawyer to the pros. “This is just one striking example of the importance of insurance. As a driver, you never know if the lap you just finished was your last so you need to make sure your family is provided for under every circumstance. If you were in a serious diving accident, disability insurance can provide you with benefits to keep you and your family living in the style you are accustomed to as a professional athlete.” (Sporting News, NASCAR driver Jason Leffler had no life insurance, funds being set up for son Charlie, June 13, 2014)
After a car went airborne during the final lap at a Talladega Superspeedway race, NASCAR threw a caution flag because the safety of their drivers comes first: “In a season that will be remembered for a rash of driver injuries, not throwing a caution would have been negligent of NASCAR. Denny Hamlin missed four races this year with a fractured vertebra, and Michael Annett was out three months with a fractured sternum. Tony Stewart, who broke his leg in a sprint car crash, has been sidelined since August and underwent a third surgery earlier this month,” (NASCAR call to throw caution isn’t even a debate: Associated Press, October 21, 2013).
While many NASCAR drivers receive lucrative payouts for races, the income won’t last indefinitely. Professional racing is a risky business with a lot of chances for a career ending injury. Purchasing a disability insurance policy can provide a driver with a hefty percentage of their income depending on the amount and the type of insurance they purchase, says Darras.
“I can’t express strongly enough how important insurance policies are to professional athletes,” exclaims Darras. “On the track, accidents can happen in seconds, leaving the driver injured and unable to race for a potentially long period of time. I recommend all drivers talk to their insurance agents or a skilled disability lawyer about how to purchase policies to protect their income.”