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Injury time

15 September 2017

Sporting injuries can often be career-ending, but the financial impact can be avoided given proper planning and attention to detail.

Former England footballer Jermaine Jenas, ex-British Lions captain Paul O’Connell, and former Somerset and England batsman Craig Kieswetter are among big-name sports stars forced to retire through injury. But, as the recent attack on Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitová illustrates, career-threatening injuries aren’t confined to match days.

At a time when prize money for individual sports such as golf and tennis continues to rise, and the average annual wage for a Premier League footballer is £2.4 million1, the sudden end of a career can be financially as well as emotionally devastating. Athletes often talk of having sacrificed much of ‘ordinary life’ to reach their goals and, consequently, finding a new role can be difficult; moreover, finding one which matches their former earning power can be almost impossible.

“The stark reality facing any sportsman is that their livelihood is at risk every time they play or train, and the celebrity which comes along with sporting success can make them the target for off-field attacks, which could produce the same result,” says Steve Talboys of Miller – a leading specialist broker which sources insurance cover for sports professionals.

Luckily, such incidents are rare but they are a fact for today’s sports stars and should be addressed by players and their representatives when planning their financial affairs. Naturally, the insurance market offers cover to mitigate against career-ending injuries, with premiums depending on individual circumstances.

“This is not insurance that can be bought off the peg or on the basis of very broad assumptions,” says Talboys. “Instead it has to be based on a specialist understanding of the sport and the broad range of risks associated with the individual player.”

Defensive cover

While professional sportsmen and women will need specialist cover based on a detailed understanding of their role in the team, injury record, lifestyle and so on, amateurs will normally be compelled to look at the wider market.

Sports or past-times can be covered by income protection insurance, and this might be considered alongside liability for injury to another person or damage to their property; as well as cover for loss of, or damage to your own sporting equipment.

In addition, certain activities will have an impact on premiums for general life insurance, income protection and critical illness policies. This is because insurance companies are concerned about the increased risk of injury or, in certain circumstances, death that is associated with certain leisure pursuits.  Many insurers can charge higher premiums, or they can decline the application altogether if they consider the sport that you participate in to be high risk.

However, some insurers can provide non-standard solutions and these are ideally suited to anyone involved in sports or hobbies with an increased risk, such as skiing, skydiving, motor racing, horse riding, and so on. You should therefore speak to a financial adviser to determine the best policy for you, and to ensure you are adequately protected at the right price.

An estimated 15.9 million people over the age of 16 take part in a sporting activity at least once a week2. Many of those sports will carry a risk; and generally, the more adrenalin-fuelled the sport, the greater the risk that something could go wrong. Consequently, those who enjoy certain sports and hobbies would be well advised to examine their level of cover, or even whether they’re insured at all.

In fact, whether you play sport on a regular basis or not, replacing lost earnings through injury, illness, or even death, is a vital part of financial planning. Every day, someone is forced to face up to the fact that unforeseen events have stopped them earning a living and that their plans for themselves and their families will have to be re-thought.

Ultimately, planning for the worst possible scenario by putting the right cover in place will give you the confidence to work and perform at your best.

1 www.sportingintelligence.com, 13 November 2016

2 Sport England, 8 December 2016

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