Protecting Against Rising Athletic Insurance Premiums

Ancillary Coverages, International Students, Risk Management

A Foundational Approach

by Jeff Struckle, Specialty Insurance Solutions, Inc.

It is intriguing to watch the security measures put in place for large sporting events. Metal detectors,  bag checks, security personnel, and police officers are on-site to protect athletes, staff, and fans. While nothing can be 100% safe, the more measures put in place, the more things are protected.

Though not on the same scale, protecting an Athletic Accident Insurance plan is similar. The more layers of protection applied to insulate claims, the greater the likelihood expenses will be reduced. The in-house care provided by athletic trainers and the utilization of a student athlete’s primary health insurance plan are important risk management components. They serve as the foundation for protecting and reducing medical expenses on Athletic Accident Insurance plans. However, even with these in place, there is still significant exposure.

On average, 22% of student-athletes are uninsured or underinsured. Underinsured student-athletes may have insurance but their plans (government-managed health insurance, out-of-network PPOs, high-deductible plans, etc.) either cover limited amounts or provide no benefits for intercollegiate sports accidents. While 22% may seem low, this group accounts for substantially more than 50% of total claims paid by an Athletic Accident Insurance plan.

Mandatory Student Accident (MSA) plans, primary accident plans for uninsured/underinsured student-athletes, domestic and international student insurance programs that include benefits for intercollegiate sports coverage are just a few examples of ancillary products that can protect an Athletic Accident Insurance plan.

A university partner recently faced increasing claims from a significant number of uninsured/underinsured student-athletes. Annual premiums for the university nearly doubled over a three-year timespan. Administrators decided to mandate primary insurance coverage for all student-athletes. The university provided uninsured/underinsured student athletes with the option of carrying primary accident insurance or short-term medical plans for individuals to meet the requirement. Since implementing this requirement, average claims have been reduced by 75.6%. In addition, the current annual premium is 61% lower than the year prior to the mandate.

Every college and university is unique. Not every institution has the ability to require all student-athletes to have primary insurance in order to participate in intercollegiate sports. Any investment made to reduce the number of uninsured/underinsured student-athletes will provide greater protection for students and insulate claims on the athletic accident program. It is important for an institution to continually evaluate various ancillary products and programs to find ways to reduce the number of uninsured/underinsured student-athletes. Finding the right balance between an institution’s philosophical belief and implementing risk-management measures is the best way to protect an Athletic Accident Insurance plan.

Speciality Insurance Solutions, Inc. is a sister company AcademicHealthPlans.