Lockouts, RG3’s Injury: What Pro Players Need to Know To Protect Their Incomes — America’s Top Insurance Lawyer, Frank N. Darras Offers Tips
Sunday morning, the 113-day NHL lockout finally ended, only days away from the cancellation of the entire 2012-2013 season. One of the biggest components of the new deal is a 50-50 split between players and owners in revenue and a maximum player contract of 7 years. With these new changes occurring in the game of hockey, there is no better time for players to evaluate their financial future.
“Lockouts should remind players that they need to consider outside health and individual disability insurance coverage if they are to successfully protect their finances. If a career-ending injury or illness were to strike during a lockout, players need to have outside coverage so they can recover and not risk their career,” says Frank Darras, America’s top insurance lawyer.
During lockouts, players aren’t generally covered under policies provided by their league owners. In most cases, they are given 30 days notice of a qualifying event and then have 60 days to elect to convert to COBRA coverage if they have it. While the cost of COBRA runs high, around $800-900 a month, the coverage is worth the protection it provides players and their families during an uncertain time.
“COBRA also protects players from the consequences a lapse in coverage can have on their future insurance premiums. A lapse in health coverage can raise pre-existing condition limitations when the player returns or re-signs.” says Darras.
Last week also proved difficult for the Washington Redskins after Robert Griffin III (RG3)’s knee buckled and cost the team their game against the Seattle Seahawks. This was RG3’s first game back since spraining his right knee about a month ago. He was forced to sit on the bench the rest of the game and the Redskins loss ended a 7-game winning streak.
“RG3 is a great player, but this instance begs the question of how players should handle injuries and protect themselves both physically and financially. For pro players, their physical ability is their biggest asset…it’s their job,” says Darras.
For a pro player, there is no better protection than individual/private disability insurance. During a lockout, team sponsored group disability coverage generally ends without an opportunity for players to convert to individual coverage.
“A lockout doesn’t mean a vacation for players. They must still stay in tip top shape and by doing this, they are putting themselves at risk of injury,” says Darras.
Players should purchase an individual disability policy that protects them if sickness or injury prevents them from playing professionally.. These “occupation specific policies can insure the bulk of their salary and pay monthly benefits even if the professional hockey player could do some other work for gain or profit.
“If a quarterback is injured and could only handoff or coach, own occupation would pay them their monthly benefit even if they could do another job. Without this clause, players would be unable to reap their disability benefits because they are still able to do other work with a huge pay cut,” says Darras.
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 evaluate the amount of individual disability coverage a player has in relation to their current standard of living. Insurance is a must for players who rely on the game and their talent to pay their bills.