Sports Teams

Workers’ Compensation for the Sports Team Industry

Workers’ compensation coverage for sports teams is provided by insurers who specialize in this market. Some of the professional sport leagues have their own captive insurance company to provide their work comp coverage.

Workers’ compensation insurance costs for sports teams can be extremely high due to the obvious risk involved. Both the frequency of claims and the severity of claims are much greater than for most other occupations.

  • The physical hazards involved depend upon the sport the team is engaged in.
  • Physical hazards common to most sports include:
    • Risk of falls while running
    • Being struck by a ball or other objects
    • Collisions between athletes.
  • While protective safety gear can be utilized to reduce the severity of injuries the athletes might incur, there are often trades-off between use of protective gear and the encumbrances the protective gear create.

The workforce of the sports teams can be divided into two categories:

  • Athletes
  • Support personnel
    • Coaches
    • Trainers
    • Equipment managers, etc.

Both the athletes and the support personnel are safety conscious.

  • The athletes are normally young adults who are in superb physical condition. As their income is normally not guaranteed and is based on their ability to compete, they are highly aware of protecting themselves from injuries when possible.
  • The non-athlete personnel normally have a guaranteed income but know that missing a part of the sports season due to injury can adversely affect their potential to be hired in the future.

Professional sport teams often have a doctor on staff who travels with team to provide immediate medical care in the case of an injury.

  • The sports teams will often have designated specialists for the athletes and support personnel to see in the case of injury.
  • When the sport teams are away from their home venue, they know where the medical specialist is located in the city they are visiting.

Work comp temporary total indemnity benefits are relatively insignificant (compared to their regular income) to the athletes.

  • The amount they can received is capped by the statutes of each state.
  • Most employees of sports teams will have a separate disability insurance policy over and above the amount of work comp indemnity benefits they can receive.

There may be challenges with return to work with the injured athletes in the farm teams because a permanent injury may end their chances to move to the major league teams.

Some categories related to sports teams that would have the same or similar work comp issues (but work comp rates may be much higher or much lower) include:

  • Speed boat racers
  • Automobile racers
  • Professional skiers
  • Professional tennis players
  • Professional bicyclist
  • Mountain climbers
  • Sky diving teams
  • Professional golfers
  • Professional boxers
  • Professional wrestlers

Transitional / Modified Duties for Sports Teams

Accommodating a professional athlete with temporary restrictions can be accomplished if he or she is unable to play in the game. This is an industry where an employee’s speedy, full recovery is critical to everyone concerned. Due to the highly competitive nature of professional sports, injured players will normally continue to be at each game, and will try to contribute in other ways besides participating in the game.

Assistant Coach: Assistant Coach, player scout and game analyst are positions that will use the athlete’s knowledge of the sport without physical exertion by the athlete.

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