With numerous high profile sporting events already underway (including Super Rugby and ICC World Twenty20) and the upcoming IPL Cricket, professional sports players need to ensure that they have adequate sportspersons insurance policies in place to cover them against financial losses, which can occur as a result of injuries during tough training sessions or extreme physical tournaments.
Dave Honeyman, Executive Head at SHA Specialist Underwriters, states that in light of the recent phenomenon where increasing numbers of South African sports stars have contracts in place to play for a local team as well as a foreign club, it is vital for players to ensure that their policies do not have any gaps that can lead to insufficient insurance, which in turn results in no salary. “As these players take part in high risk sports they are unfortunately facing increased risk of injuries that could cost them their professional careers.”
Rugby in particular is getting more physically demanding and serious, and possibly career ending, injuries are the result. According to Honeyman it becomes even more complex when players have contracts with overseas clubs and they start to earn high salaries in currencies other than the South African Rand. “Players who have multiple contracts for practicing their sport should ensure that they are covered at all times and avoid having a policy that only covers the basics.”
He advises that as soon as a player starts to earn high salaries in foreign currencies, it is vital that they ensure that their insurance policy will pay out their new salary in the value of South African Rand when it comes time to claim stage. “There is no stability in having a policy in place that will only pay out while the player is fulfilling their duties for a local team, and not while playing for a foreign club while earning a bigger salary.”
In addition, an injury while preparing and training for a big tournament, such as the Super Rugby, IPL or Cricket World Cup, can easily occur and the chances are high that a player could lose their income if they are eliminated from the squad due to an injury, explains Honeyman.
He urges professional sports players to plan ahead and ensure that they or their agents speak to a broker or insurance provider to advise the best way forward to cover their ability to earn an income, even more so when they have multiple contracts in various countries in place. “It is also advisable to get a specialised policy that caters for the unique needs of a professional athlete that can link the benefits of earning various currencies.”
“A specialised insurance provider will have a policy available for high profile sport players with cover that is specifically designed to ensure that the player is covered on a 24 hours basis, for all injuries and Serious Illnesses. Any instance that will cause the professional athlete to forfeit their duties of competing professionally should be covered under that policy,” states Honeyman.
As a result of the inadequacy of current insurance provisions for sportspersons, it is imperative that sportspersons speak to their financial advisors and take out their own cover to ensure that they are financially covered in the unfortunate event that they become unable to perform their respective sports profession, he concludes.