Category Archives: Sports

How safe is your bike helmet? Virginia Tech and IIHS debut new safety rating system

With more people choosing to bike to work and for recreation, accidents and injuries are also on the rise.

Having the right bike helmet can significantly cut the risk of injury, but up until now there was not a standardized rating that consumers could use to determine the effectiveness of a bike helmet.  A new ratings program, based on research by Virginia Tech and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), changes that.

The program used more rigorous tests than required by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), for example, taking into account the angle at which a bicyclist’s head is likely to strike the pavement in a crash.

The number of stars assigned to each helmet represents how effectively that model reduces overall injury risk. Only four of the 30 helmets tested in the initial round earned a 5-star rating. All four are equipped with a Multi-Directional Impact Protection System (MIPS). MIPS creates a low-friction layer inside the helmet which helps to reduce rotational forces that can result from certain impacts.

With better ways to gauge helmet safety, there still remains the problem of getting people to wear them. By some estimates only 18 percent of riders regularly wear helmets.

 

The I.I.I. has facts & statistics on bicycle crashes here.

 

Sports-related injuries

Summer is here, and it’s time for both kids and adults to be more active. Unfortunately sports related injuries can also increase during the summer months. Our interactive chart shows that playing basketball led to the most hospital treated injuries, followed by biking and football, according to the latest available data from the National Safety Council (NSC).

Concern is growing about the risks of sports-related concussions as lawsuits filed by injured professional football players have generated national headlines. The problem also affects thousands of young people who engage in a variety of sports.

Among the sports shown in the chart below, ice hockey injuries had the highest percentage of concussion as the primary diagnosis, at 12% of all hospital emergency department-treated injuries. Snowboarding and water tubing followed, with 10% and 9% of injuries reported as concussion-related.

There were 191,396 swimming injuries treated in emergency rooms, with children between the ages of five and 14 suffering the most injuries.

Insurance plays critical role in World Cup

Soccer fans are eagerly anticipating the 2018 World Cup to commence in Russia on June 14.  The monthlong competition presents significant risks ranging from kidnapping, to cyberattack, to event cancellation, and without insurance it’s unlikely an event such as this could take place.

The London insurer Beazley, estimates that construction related risks are insured for $2.5 billion, event cancellation, including loss of TV rights and sponsorship, for $1.6 billion and terrorism and acts of violence for $1.3 billion. Star players are insured for injury for up to $200 million each.

“Without insurance there would be no World Cup, no Olympics or little organized competitive sport”,

said Michael Furtschegger, head of entertainment international at insurer Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty.

Going Gaga For Insurance

Insurers are known for helping us prepare for Mother Nature’s surprises, but did you know that insurers also have to evaluate the risks of Mother Monster, aka Lady Gaga–and other celebrities?

MarketWatch reports that Gaga, due to headline the Super Bowl halftime show on February 5, wants to perform on the top of the dome that covers the NRG Stadium in Houston.

Event organizers are working on how to keep the performer safe as well as securing insurance for the spectacle, according to the New York Post. Reports suggest such a stunt could cost over $100,000 to insure.

Specialist insurers (see our earlier post here) have a long history of protecting the stars — and the companies that promote and sponsor them — by providing appearance/event cancellation coverage, celebrity body parts insurance, and death and disgrace policies.

The Lloyd’s insurance market has insured a long line of celebrities and celebrity body parts. For example, Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards’ hands were insured for $1.6 million and Marlene Dietrich insured her voice for $1 million.

Insurance Insider recently reported  that the death of Star Wars actress Carrie Fisher is likely to trigger a $50 million “contract protection” policy underwritten in the Lloyd’s market that would cover Disney in the event that Fisher was unable to fulfil her obligations to act in the new Star Wars films.

Each celebrity risk profile comes with its own unique set of risks, according to the individual’s occupation, health, lifestyle and associated risks.

So, next time you go to see your favorite band, sports star or top chef perform, just think: there’s probably celebrity insurance for that.

Insurers Ready for the Summer Olympics

Opening ceremonies for 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro are just days away and amid crime, security and public health concerns, it is the global insurance industry that provides the critical risk coverage needed for this sporting event to go ahead.

More than 10,000 athletes from 206 countries will come together in Rio to participate in a total of 665 events which are expected to attract up to 500,0000 international spectators as well as a considerable number of domestic tourists.

Approximately $1 billion in insurance is in place for this event, via a policy purchased by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Business Insurance reports.

The policy, underwritten by major reinsurers Swiss Re and Munich Re, covers the IOC in the event the games need to be canceled due to a natural catastrophe, civil unrest, pandemic or terrorism.

It also covered the 2012 London Summer Olympics and the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Terrorism coverage for the Olympic Village which will house the athletes, has been underwritten in the London and international markets, according to the Business Insurance article.

Though a major global sporting event gives terrorists a worldwide audience for spectacular attacks, London-based risk consulting firm Control Risks continues to assess the terrorism threat in Rio as low.

Screen Shot 2016-08-01 at 10.55.54 AM

Bomb disposal experts detonated a controlled explosion Sunday night to destroy a suspicious package found at Maracana Stadium, site of the Olympics opening ceremonies (pictured above). There are also concerns about lone wolf attacks.

In a security briefing, Control Risks notes that there is no history of transnational terrorism in Brazil, and the country continues to rely heavily on its foreign policy (based on principles of multilateralism, peaceful settlement of disputes and non-interventionism) as a main source of protection.

Brazil has set up its largest security operation in history to address the unique challenges surrounding the event and its counter-terrorism strategy is built on the lessons learned from the country’s successful hosting of the 2014 World Cup.

Some 47,000 Brazilian security professionals have been deployed and the country is also relying on foreign expertise. In 2015, Brazil sent around 100 police officers abroad to learn about best practices for managing large international events, including the Boston and Berlin marathons, and the Tour de France.

In addition to the events taking place in Rio, the football tournament will also be held in five other cities: Manaus, Belo Horizonte, Brasília, Salvador and São Paulo. Some 38,000 members of the armed services as well as security forces will patrol the five football host cities.

Crime and public safety will be the most pressing concerns during the sporting events, Control Risks notes, though significant disruption to travel and logistics is also anticipated due to protests.

Tensions in many urban centers, including Rio de Janeiro, remain elevated as a result of Brazil’s ongoing political and economic crisis. While most demonstrations are likely to be peaceful, there is a credible risk of clashes between security forces and protesters, particularly if the security forces adopt a heavy-handed approach.

Control Risks advises companies to continue to monitor the situation closely.

While the Zika virus has been billed as the biggest public health threat, experts say the bigger concerns for visitors are actually traffic accidents, the Flu, and pollution.

Check out Insurance Information Institute facts and statistics on terrorism. Check out CDC guidance on the Zika virus in Brazil here.

How To Insure A $120 Million Horse

The Kentucky Derby is upon us and insurers are more than just spectators at this major sporting event.

Bloodstock and equestrian insurance is big business with underwriters who specialize in offering tailored protection for high value animals.

Consider the staggering values at stake. A BloombergBusiness article by Mason Levinson tells the tale of American thoroughbred racehorse Tapit.

Tapit began his stud career with an initial stallion fee of $15,000. That fee has soared 20-fold in the past decade and in 2015 Tapit will generate over $30 million for his owners.

Why?

Tapit’s offspring tend to win races.

As  Bloomberg reports:

By 2009, his offspring’s racetrack earnings placed him 28th on a national ranking of stallions, according to data compiled by the Bloodhorse. He climbed to 12th the next year, then third in 2011 and first in 2014, a position he has maintained over the first four months of this year.”

One of Tapit’s sons, Frosted, is a top contender in Saturday’s Kentucky Derby.

Today, Tapit’s total value is estimated at about $120 million, the article reports.

Luckily, there’s insurance for that. Whether you own racehorses, stallions, broodmares, or showjumpers, insurers are able to tailor a policy that meets your needs.

A bloodstock insurance policy typically would cover a number of different risks.

For example, all risks mortality would cover the value of the animal if it dies as a result of accident, disease or illness. Theft can also be covered, as well as loss of use (covering financial loss) and public liability.

If you run an equine breeding program, permanent infertility insurance is another important coverage. Stallions are the “calling card” of a major farm and can be synonymous with the farm’s name and reputation.

If a stallion becomes permanently impotent, infertile, or incapable of serving mares, it can be a huge setback for the owner, breeder or shareholder. This important coverage protects one of their most valuable assets.

Perhaps one of the most high-profile equine insurance claims over the years involved the death of thoroughbred Alydar in 1990. Check out this Blood-Horse feature article by Tom Dixon,  the Lloyd’s of London  insurance adjuster who was first on the scene when Alydar was found in his stall at Calumet Farm with a broken leg.

Sports, Concussion Risk and Liability

Sporting organizations around the world and their liability insurers have to be keeping a close eye on the latest developments in a multi-million dollar settlement which will see the National Football League (NFL) pay out an uncapped amount to compensate retired football players suffering from certain severe concussion-related neurological conditions.

A federal judge approved the preliminary revised settlement yesterday after the original $765 million settlement proposed by the NFL was rejected by U.S. District Court Judge Anita B. Brody in January over concerns that the amount would not be enough to cover the claims from more than 20,000 retired players over the 65-year life of the settlement.

Concerns have been growing over the risks of sports-related concussions in recent years since the filing of the first lawsuits by injured professional football players against the NFL in 2011.

Young people participating in a range of sports including soccer, basketball and ice hockey are also affected. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 173,285 sports- and recreation-related traumatic brain injuries (TBI), including concussions, among children and adolescents are treated in U.S. emergency rooms annually.

The New York Times reports that despite being uncapped, the new settlement does allow the NFL to contest an unlimited number of requests for awards by retired players as a way to prevent fraudulent claims.

Retired players will receive packets explaining the terms of the settlement over the coming weeks and players will be deemed to be in favor of the deal unless they opt out, which would preserve their legal rights, the NYT says. They can also object to parts of the deal.

A fairness hearing on the settlement is scheduled for November 19 in Philadelphia.

The settlement provides for a $75 million baseline assessment program that will offer all retired NFL players baseline neuropsychological and neurological evaluations to determine the existence and extent of any cognitive defects.

The 65-year monetary award fund will award cash to retired NFL players who already have a qualifying diagnosis or receive one in the future.

The court order details potential awards for qualifying diagnoses of up to $3.5 million for neurocognitive impairment, $3.5 million for Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease, $5 million for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and $4 million for players who die with chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

The awards may be reduced based on a retired player’s age at the time of diagnosis, the number of NFL seasons played, and other offsets outlined in the settlement.

Business Insurance reports that the settlement approval notes that players who receive awards from the NFL fund are not required to release claims against the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) or any other amateur football organizations for concussion claims.

A 2013 article by then National Underwriter reporter Chad Hemenway provides invaluable insight into sports-related traumatic brain injuries and how the legal fallout may change the way sports are insured.

Check out I.I.I. facts and stats on sports injuries.

Northwestern Football and the Workers Comp Back Story

I.I.I. chief actuary James Lynch brings us  an intriguing  tale of workers comp and college football:

The most interesting story in workers compensation these days is playing out, quietly, on the sports page. At least the insurance part is quiet.

You’ve doubtless heard that Northwestern University football players were recognized as employees by an arm of the National Labor Relations Board and earned, tentatively, the right to form a union. The news made The New York Times front page, among others, and merited editorials in The Times and The Wall Street Journal.

Less prominent in the stories is what the players want: workers compensation – or at least some system to pay for the injuries they suffer on the field.

The players, petitioning as the College Athletes Players Association (CAPA), aren’t shy about wanting comp-like coverage. Here’s the second paragraph of their petition to the NLRB (pdf):

Faced with the serious risk of concussions and long-term injuries, the Players seek to bargain over health and safety issues like other employees protected by the [National Labor Relations] Act.”

And they make it clear, in the next sentence, that they aren’t out for money, at least not primarily:

CAPA will not jeopardize the Players’ eligibility by bargaining compensation not permitted by National Collegiate Athletic Association rules, but can bargain additional financial support and protections within the existing NCAA rules, and will speak for the Players as the NCAA landscape continues to evolve.”

The seminal takedown of the NCAA is Taylor Branch’s long, long, click-only-if-you’re-stranded-at-O’Hare opus in The Atlantic magazine’s September 2011 issue. In Branch’s telling (scroll down – wayyyy down – to ‘The Myth of the Student-Athlete’) it was precisely because the NCAA feared workers comp that it fought against classifying athletes as employees. The term student-athlete, he writes, was invented in the 1950s after a widow filed for a workers comp death benefit after her husband died from a head injury he got playing football.

Northwestern is appealing last week’s ruling. If the union gets what it wants, it will likely mean the players could be covered under Illinois’ Workers Compensation Act, like other Northwestern employees.

Northwestern is a private university. Public universities – being state entities – don’t always fall under a state’s workers comp laws. Take, for example, the University of Alabama, a powerhouse program I happened to Google. Its employees are covered by The University of Alabama On-the-Job Injury/Illness program – not part of the workers comp system, but governed by similar principles.

The most interesting what-if discussion I’ve seen on the topic comes from – where else? – Bleacher Report.

(Full disclosure: I used to live about 50 yards from Ryan Field, where Northwestern plays. Talk about noisy neighbors.)

Super Bowl XLVIII

It’s Super Bowl weekend and whether you’re cheering for the Denver Broncos or the Seattle Seahawks, or have no idea who even made the final, the big game wouldn’t be able to happen without the support of the risk management and insurance community.

While it doesn’t look as if a blizzard will disrupt Sunday’s title game at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, it’s no surprise that event-cancellation policies have been making the headlines.

Earlier this year New York-based broker DeWitt Stern announced that it had designed an event cancellation policy to protect businesses from lost revenue if for any reason the Super Bowl was cancelled or moved more than 60 miles.

In the event a terrorist attack or blizzard causes the game to be cancelled, the policy would respond and cover businesses for loss of estimated potential revenue. The policy is underwritten by Houston Casualty Company.

There are many other risks that insurers will cover, from the Bruno Mars and Red Hot Chili Peppers halftime show (remember the infamous wardrobe malfunction during Janet Jackson’s performance with Justin Timberlake in 2004?), to coverage for broadcasters in the event their transmissions are interrupted due to a technical problem (think back to last year’s championship game in New Orleans when a power outage halted play for 34 minutes).

For more on Super Bowl risks, check out this post at KYForward.com by Kevin Moore, director of Risk Management Services for Roeding Insurance.

And for the betting among you, check out the Super Bowl Prediction System of John Dewan to see which team you should be backing.

May the best team win!

Super Bowl Home Rentals and Insurance

We’re not football people, so the fact that the Super Bowl is happening in our back yard in New Jersey in early February, hasn’t registered yet.

However, the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) just issued a press release that got us thinking, not just about touchdowns and field goals.

Before we look into renting out our house to Super Bowl fans, the I.I.I. cautions us and other like-minded homeowners to first contact our insurer to make sure we’re covered if our property is damaged or if someone is injured.

Apparently the market for properties near the Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, eight miles west of mid-town Manhattan, is booming on peer-to-peer rental websites. Short-term rental prices for homes typically soar when the Super Bowl or other high-profile sporting events come to town.

So how do insurers approach this home-sharing scenario?

According to the I.I.I., some insurers may allow policyholders to use their property as a rental for a one-time, special occasion like the Super Bowl, as long as the insurer is informed about it ahead of time.

Other insurers, while allowing this type of arrangement, may insist on other criteria being met, such as the homeowner acquiring additional insurance coverage.

Some insurers, though, will consider any rental of your home to be a business venture, requiring the purchase of a business policy–specifically either a hotel or a bed and breakfast policy—because a standard homeowners insurance policy excludes losses arising from the operation of a business.

In the words of Jeanne Salvatore, senior vice president, Public Affairs, and consumer spokesperson for the I.I.I.:

Technological advances have allowed for the growth of the sharing economy. But, if you participate, it is your responsibility as a property owner to make sure you’re adequately covered.†

Check out I.I.I. information on the sharing economy and homeowners insurance.