NFL lockout – Insurance agents need a game plan to help protect players

By Frank N. Darras


This is a fantastic time for NFL players to make intelligent decisions about their insurance portfolios that could yield great benefits in or out of lockout. Insurance agents have a golden opportunity to guide their player clients in making these all-important decisions.

For the tenth time in the history of the NFL, players and owners are unable to reach an amicable agreement about how to divvy up the enormous profits the league rakes in each year. While the $9 billion pie is not getting any closer to being sliced up, insurance agents should have a game plan to ensure their player clients have all the right insurance during the lockout and beyond.

Center stage is a lawsuit filed in Minnesota federal court to sort out whether antitrust law applies or whether the players have improperly decertified their union.

"The whole trust thing is a fine line,'' said Bradie James, an assistant player representative with the Cowboys who says the players have been battling this since 2009.

The fact is, this could take some time to resolve and players can’t afford to risk illness or injury during the lockout.

Health insurance can and should be continued by timely electing and paying personally for COBRA coverage during this time when players are not covered under policies provided by league owners. They should have been given 30 days notice of the qualifying event (the lockout) and are now in the 60-day period when they must timely elect to convert to COBRA coverage.

Some players who are under the age of 26 may have the option of being covered under policies their parents hold if they follow two simple requirements: 1) they must not have a job that offers health insurance and 2) their parents have to claim them as dependents this year on their taxes. Insurance agents should help players investigate this option. If the player has a wife and children, they would have to seek additional coverage for them separately, as their dependents can’t be covered under the parent’s policy.

Disability insurance is a must have insurance for any professional athlete. During a lockout, team sponsored group disability coverage generally ends without an opportunity for the player to convert to individual coverage. Players have to stay in shape during this down time, and it is risky to do so without the protection of disability insurance.

Insurance agents who help guide players through the maze of individual disability insurance options are one step ahead of the competition and are gaining valued trust from their clients in these stressful times. Current players, comeback hopefuls and potential draftees all need individual disability protection now and there are plenty of terrific options available here in the states and with Lloyds of London.

It is crucial to practice and prepare for the season while you are protected so a major injury or chronic illness doesn’t wreak havoc. Insurance agents should point out that individual disability insurance is not just a temporary option, but a long-term part of their overall insurance plan.
Focus your selling points on the following must haves:
  • It’s less expensive to buy individual coverage when you are young. So, buy as much as you can, as young as you can.

  • Insurance language can be changed, cancelled or premiums increased arbitrarily if you don’t buy a policy that has guaranteed renewable and non-cancelable clauses included. Make sure you point out these two clauses and their importance.

  • When a new contract is signed, re-evaluate the player’s total coverage amount. The more money they make, the more insurance they need.

  • Answer any questions and make sure they understand everything before purchasing. You are their insurance coach, so make sure they understand what they have bought and how to use it.
Don’t forget about life insurance. Like their health insurance, some life insurance policies might be convertible. If not, there are many options for purchasing term life insurance to get them through this time.

This is a fantastic time for players to make intelligent decisions about their insurance portfolios that could yield great benefits in or out of lockout. No one knows at this point if there will be a 2011 NFL season, but insurance agents have a golden opportunity to guide their player clients in making these all-important decisions.

Players are in such a high-risk profession that purchasing disability insurance that gives them the highest level of coverage is prudent — something specific for professional athletes. Should they need to file a claim, individually purchased policies are chock-full of terrific consumer rights and remedies. Remember, you are the coach and the goal is financial security for your player clients now and in the future.