Posts Tagged ‘Sports Insurance’

Risks of Sports Specialization Among Youth Athletes

Focus on a single sport can lead to overuse injuries

Kids are starting to participate in recreational sports leagues and camps at increasingly younger ages in recent years. T-ball teams, soccer leagues, swim clubs, skating rinks, cheer squads, tumbling schools and even dance studios are filled with little people, some as young 3 and 4 years of age.  And many are choosing to participate in a single activity year round from an early age.

Sports specialization (focusing on a single sport) in youth sports can, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), result in early burnout, emotional stress and overuse injuries. However, the risks can be mitigated by following recommendations by AAP.

Weighing the decision to specialize

Research shows that the physical development of children is better among those who play a variety of sports prior to puberty. Encouraging kids to experience a overuse injuries in youth sportswide range of sports activities also means they’ll be much less likely to lose interest or quit altogether. Studies show that children who specialized in a single sport from a young age tend to have more short-lived athletic careers.  The AAP recommends that children put off specializing in a sport until about age 15 or 16.

It’s important to determine why you or your child thinks he or she should specialize. More often than not, college scholarships are a motivator.  Be realistic about such opportunities: on average, 8% percent of high school athletes succeed in making a college team, but only 1% of those make it on an athletic scholarship.

Specialization and overuse injuries

Specialization can lead to overuse injuries, which can be muscle, bone, tendon or ligament damage resulting from repetitive stress and lack of healing time. One of the most common overuse injuries among athletes is shin splints.

Alarmingly, overuse accounts for half of all sports medicine injuries among children and teens. Children and teens are more susceptible to overuse injuries than adults because their still underdeveloped bones don’t recover as well from stress.

Preventing overuse injuries

So, if the decision has been made to specialize, there are steps that can be taken to lower the risk of overuse injuries.

Be Prepared:  It’s critical that all athletes maintain their fitness level both in and off season. General and sport-specific conditioning during the preseason are also extremely important. An evaluation by a physician prior to participation is the most essential step in determining whether a child can safely play his or her chosen sport. This should be done four to six weeks prior to practice and play to allow for time to address any potential obstacles to participation.

Train Smart: Weekly training times, distances, and repetitions should only be increased by 10% each week. For example, a 15-mile per week run should only be increased to 16.5 miles the following week, 18 miles the week after that and so on. Sport-specific trainingOveruse injuries in youth sports should vary. For instance, runners incorporate a diversity of running surfaces by running on the road, on a treadmill, on grass and in a pool. Likewise, training should include a variety of workouts, such as treadmills/ellipticals, weight lifting, and swimming.

Rest Smart: Training every day is a sure path to emotional and physical stress. Athletes should allow time for recovery by taking at least one day off every week from training, practice and  play. It’s just as important to take four to eight weeks off during the year from a specific sport.  A good rule of thumb is one month off for every six months of training and play.

Avoid Burnout: Overtraining can alter an athlete’s physical, hormonal and mental performance. Remember that a child should enjoy participating and the training should be age appropriate. They shouldn’t look at it as a job or a test. Be aware of changes in the athlete’s eating and sleeping habits. In particular, be alert for changes in or cessation of a girl’s menstrual period. Don’t hesitate to consult a physician if such changes are observed.


Sources:

President of Sadler Quoted in “Rough Notes” Magazine

The April 2016 issue of Rough Notes magazine featured an article on the competitive market of amateur sports insurance. Rough Notes is a leading trade magazine for insurance agents that often turns to John Sadler for his insight into sports-related industry trends and issues.

With regard to insurance service and risk management in this segment of the insurance industry, Sadler was quoted saying, “For the third year in a row, the biggest issue of concern in amateur sports insurance is brain injury in the concussion-prone sports. While most carriers haven’t actually seen an influx of brain injury claims activity on the amateur side, they’re being cautious.”

Sadler is referring to the response to ongoing reports in the media of professional athletes diagnosed with CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) following their autopsies and researchers looking into the possible link of contact sports to CTE in living athletes.

“It’s feared that adverse media attention will negatively impact juries.The recent Pop Warner settlement has not helped in this regard; however, many recent court rulings in this area have been favorable to sports associations,” said Sadler.

Sadler was also asked  about rate increases, which he says are running in the range of 0 to 8% for accounts with good loss histories. “High-risk concussion sports are seeing slight rate increases and coverage reductions. Carriers want to limit their exposure on this still-difficult-to-quantify risk by excluding it altogether, lowering aggregates and/or including defense within limits, and they’re also requiring certain risk management controls as a pre-condition of binding.”

He also addressed the issue of risk that comes with the social element of sports and clubs, saying, “While most of these clubs do have policies in place to help cover potential injuries and to protect and defend against any potential lawsuits, there could be gaps. This is particularly true where a liquor liability exposure exists.”

The article in its entirety can be read here.


Source: Dave Willis, “Amateur Sports: Competitive Market, Emerging Risks.” www.roughnotes.com. Vol. 98, April 2016.

Crime and Equipment Policies for Sports Organizations

The difference is important

Some administrators who make the insurance purchasing decisions for sports organizations are confused over the difference between Crime Insurance and Equipment Insurance.  They mistakenly believe that theft of equipment by outsiders or vandalism of equipment is a crime covered by a Crime Policy.  This is not correct.

Here is an easy way to distinguish between the two policies:

Equipment Insurance = Loss of sports equipment due to fire, wind, vandalism, theft, etc.

Crime Insurance = Employee/Volunteer theft of equipment or embezzlement of funds.

Of course, the above explanation is an over simplification, but it is an easy way to understand the main differences between the two policies.

John Sadler Quoted in Rough Notes Magazine

 When Rough Notes magazine wants to inform the insurance agent subscribers on the current state of sports insurance industry, they interview leading voices in the sports insurance niches. John Sadler is is one of those voices. You can read the  recent article in which Sadler comments on the following issues impacting the market:

  • Impact of economic downturn on sports registrations
  • Increase in volunteer theft and embezzlement
  • Sandusky impact on coverage for sex abuse and molestation
  • Impact of repeat concussions and less than concussion events
  • Need for efficiency in processing sports insurance transactions
  • Need for simple risk management tools to reduce injuries and lawsuits

Source: Rough Notes Magazine, April 2012

Are Some Sports Waivers Unfair?

Debating the language and intent

Below is an excerpt out of a sports waiver/release from the Seattle Public School District:

I am aware that track and field is a high risk sport… involving many risks of injury, including brain damage, blindness, paralysis and, of course, death.

The kicker is the following line:

Competing in track and field may result not only in serious injury but a serious impairment of my future abilities…generally to enjoy life. (Emphasis mine)

What is enjoyment of life?

When someone is injured in circumstances where blame is assigned by a civil court, the defendant must pay for the injured party’s medical expenses.  The defendant could also have to pay for any potential future lost wages.  But those injured through negligence face a myriad of other future life cost such as the ability to pursue the pleasurable activities they once enjoyed.

Stan V. Smith, a Chicago-based economist and author of the legal term “generally to enjoy life” is apparently not comfortable with the enjoyment of life provision found in thousands of sports waiver/release forms.

“This is a cover your butt thing,” he said.  “It’s a very blunt statement that is ominous and threatening….  They are shoving it in the parents’ faces and implicitly saying, ‘Crap happens.’”

Smith knows such warnings have a place in school waivers, but would like to see them accompanied by clear statements that districts will work hard to minimize risk by taking precautions and set forth reasonable standards to keep students safe.

Theresa Amato of FairContracts.org has seen similar issues with school districts and other youth organizations before.  Contract templates are frequently purchased from legal form sellers, which are then tweaked to suit their needs by the district attorney, according to Amato. The districts are likely pressured by insurance companies to include such sweeping language, she said.

Amato’s concern is that the language in the waivers could prevent the injured parties from filing suits.

In my opinion:

I totally disagree with the statements made by Smith and Amato, who seem to miss the point of a sports waiver/release.  Its purpose is to balance the scales of the justice system, which is tipped in favor of plaintiffs. This is clearly evident by the quantity of frivolous lawsuits and excessive amounts awarded by juries. It was never more apparent than during the liability crunch of the 1980s where volunteers refused to offer their services when affordable General Liability insurance wasn’t available.

Many courts will strike a waiver/release if it’s not specific in terms of the injuries and damages that may occur.  If you try to soften the blow, as recommended by Smith, a court could use such language to invalidate the waiver/release.  Waiver /releases are upheld for the purpose of dismissing a minor’s lawsuit in about 10 states if there was no gross negligence and if the waiver/release was intelligently drafted.  In the other 40 or so states, the waiver/release may be introduced into evidence to trigger an assumption of risk defense that often reduces the amount of settlement by up to 30%.

Products/Completed Operations Limit

Coverage most sports and recreation organizations need

The primary General Liability exposure for most sports and recreation associations and their members is for injuries to spectators and participants. However, the lawsuit potential that arises from the sale of products and from completed construction operations at the facility is another significant exposure that needs addressed.

The General Aggregate limit is an annual cap on covered bodily injury or property damage losses that occur on owned or rented premises. But the Products/Completed Operations Aggregate limit is an annual cap on covered bodily injury and property damage losses that occur away from owned or rented premises that arise out of your product or your work.

What this means

Products that are typically sold by sports organizations include concession foods and drinks, T-shirts, equipment, and fundraising products. On occasion, such products are defective and result in injuries to the purchasers or others. Examples include food poisoning and injuries from the sale of sports equipment such as a helmet or kayaks.

Work such as construction operations performed by staff or by hired contractors may include the building of sheds, bleachers, fences, and other structures. Such work may initially be on premises owned or rented by the sports organization that is later sold or the lease terminated. Completed construction operations may later result in injuries from a bleacher collapse or electrocution or fire from faulty wiring.

Since most sports and recreation organizations do have an exposure for product sales and work, Products/Completed Operations is an important coverage.

Navigating the Sports Insurance Market

The problem with the traditional insurance bidding process

Many administrators of sports and recreation sanctioning and governing body associations make the common mistake of allowing multiple insurance agents to bid on their insurance program. After all, the more opinions and quotes, the better, right? And doesn’t competition between insurance agents result in the lowest price?

It’s my opinion that these commonly-held beliefs could be counterproductive in the sports and recreation insurance marketplace.

The problem

The sports/recreation insurance marketplace has a limited number of insurance carriers that are capable of providing quality General Liability coverage. It doesn’t make sense to cut loose multiple insurance agents who are in mad rush to be the first to approach the same handful of carriers, bombarding each underwriter with multiple applications. Worse, many of the applications may contain contradictory information, raising raise red flags about the truthfulness of any single application. And the carrier underwriters may believe that too many insurance agents chasing an account is an indication that the account is a price shopper who isn’t interested in a long term relationship.

The likely result is that the application will be moved to the bottom of the stack where it won’t receive priority treatment by the underwriters.

Additionally, the various insurance agents who are quoting may get frustrated when they find that other agents have blocked their markets with prior application submissions. They will usually request a “broker of record” letter from you to alter this outcome. Typically, carriers will only work with the first agent to submit an application. However, if a subsequent agent can convince the sports organization to sign a “broker of record letter,” he or she can then take over the rights to represent the insurance carrier. Carriers who receive a broker of record letter must inform the first submitting agent and offer a period of time to receive a countermanding broker of record letter to offset the effect of the first one. The end result is stressful and time consuming communications bouncing among insurance agents, carriers and the sports organization administrator who is overseeing the bid process.

The solution

The better way to handle the process is to choose the most qualified insurance agent based on a predetermined set of criteria, and allow him or her to obtain proposals from various insurance carriers. This approach offers the best of both worlds: the sports organization will benefit from working with the most qualified insurance agent and still gain access to all the insurance carriers in a setting less likely to cause underwriter mistrust. This process should produce the best combination of insurance and risk management advice and service for the lowest possible cost.

Sports risks create unique exposures to loss that must be anticipated and then addressed by negotiating specialized coverage modifications. It takes many years of experience in the sports niche for any insurance agent to become familiar with these unique exposures to loss and the special coverage modifications. Such experience is acquired after reviewing dozens of actual claims and lawsuits in specific areas and noting the carrier responses to these claims under various coverage forms. A sports organization definitely does not want to hire an insurance agent who lacks this specialized experience.

Sadler Sports “Hottest Fitness Instructor” 2011

Sadler Sports & Recreation Insurance is pleased to announce the winners of the Facebook “Hottest Fitness Instructor” contest. The winner was determined by the most “likes” and nominations from group members and other participants.

GRAND PRIZE WINNER:

Congratulations to Jill Berardelli Vadala of Fredericksburg, Virginia!

Jill will receive a $50 American Express gift card.

Due to the great response from our Fitness Instructors we have also chosen a runner-up.

RUNNER-UP:

Rebekah Kirshke

Rebekah will receive a $25 American Express gift card.

Thank you, ladies, and all those who participated. We hope that you enjoyed the contest. We enjoyed reading the comments that others left for you as well.

If you would like more information on the personal trainer insurance provided by Sadler Sports and Recreation, visit us today!

Sadler Featured in ROUGH NOTES Magazine

John Sadler

John Sadler

John Sadler was featured in the August 2011 edition of the  Rough Notes  article “Amateur Sports, Recreation Market Continues to Grow.”  The article discusses common insurance risk and and management issues faced by amateur sports organizations such as concussions, sex and molestation, volunteer embezzlement, and more.

Do Safety Standards Mean More Liability?

Sports organizations weigh their options

Many Sadler sports organization clients struggle with the question of whether or not to set safety or risk management standards. On one hand, they are necessary to protect against spectator and participant injuries. On the other hand, failure to follow your own standard can result in an allegation of negligence and a General Liability claim. This problem is magnified by organizations that rely on volunteer staff and are unable to adequately police the standards that have been set.

What to do? Mandate a standard? Strongly recommend it?

I came across an excellent blog post on Sports Waiver written by attorney Charles “Reb” Gregg on this topic. The author is a proponent of setting reasonable standards and believes that the potential liability for not following a standard is overstated.