Ice Hockey Face Visors

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Should sports disability carrier mandate use?

Sports insurance carriers are often pressured by advocates to require certain safety rules or safety equipment as a prerequisite of coverage.  The latest incident of this occurred in the sports disability insurance market for NHL professional hockey players.  Personal Disability insurance covers loss of income as a result of certain career ending injuries. One specialty Accident carrier decided to mandate the use of face visors as a precondition of extending coverage.  However, Disability broker, Greg Sutton of Sutton Special Risk in Toronto argues that it is not the role of sports insurance carriers to affect change as such. These changes, he said, should be left up to NHL players.

Sutton cites the following reasons for not mandating the face visor as a precondition of Personal Disability coverage:

  • The last career-ending injury that a face visor may have prevented occurred in the 2000 season when Bryan Berard lost most of the vision in one eye after being struck by a stick.  The Disability carrier actually paid a lump sum, which he paid back when he decided to continue his career in 2001-2002.  Therefore, mandating the face visor would not make a significant impact on reducing claim payouts.
  • Concussions are a much larger issue in NHL than injuries that could be prevented by face visors.
  • Sutton personally favors the use of face visors and thinks that the insurance industry should consider discounts for their use. However, the policies are already highly discounted.
  • Currently 73% of the NHL’s 740 players voluntarily wear face visors and the players union may consent to mandatory use with older players being grandfathered in.

In my opinion:

In my experience, sports Accident and General Liability carriers only mandate certain safety rules or safety equipment when their use would prevent catastrophic injuries.  As regards discounts, most don’t want to give up front discounts, as discounts will be provided on the back end when claim reductions work their way into the loss history of an account.

Source: David Shoalts, “Player Safety: Onus for Visor Use Must Stem From Players, Insurance Magnate Says.” 24 Mar. 2015.
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