Carriers have withdrawn from high-exposure sports
Life and Health
By Gia Snape
This article was created in collaboration with Amwins Group, Inc.
Gia Snape, of Insurance Business, sat down with Nate Walker, senior vice president of sales at Special Markets Insurance Consultants (SMIC) and Harrison Brown, chief executive officer of HEADCHECK Health, to discuss the risk of concussion in the sports industry, the impact of liability claims on the market and how implementing head injury protocols can help ensure the safety of athletes.
Concussions, or minor traumatic brain injuries (mTBI) are one of the most common athletic injuries, with 1.6 million to 3.8 million incidents occurring each year from sports and recreation in US, according to CDC estimates.
Increased attention to concussions, especially the mishandling of concussions in professional sports, has led insurers to shy away from covering the risk. Many carriers choose to carve out coverage or offer only concussion policies.
The withdrawal poses a challenge to the sports industry and puts a greater focus on ensuring the safety of athletes through concussion protocols.
“Concussion injuries have hit the insurance industry with a lot of litigation,” said Nate Walker (pictured above), senior vice president of sales at Special Markets Insurance Consultants (SMIC).
SMIC is an Amwins Group company and managing general underwriter (MGU) specializing in student, sports, and event risks.
“Casualty carriers in the sports industry are susceptible to many claims, prompting many to try to minimize their exposure.,” Walker told Insurance Business.
Concussion liability is assumed by hammer carriers
Concussion liability claims in US professional sports have cost insurers billions of dollars over the past few decades.
Recently, former NFL players sued the league, saying it repeatedly denied disability benefits to those with physical and mental disabilities.
According to Walker, carriers generally fall into three camps when it comes to concussion risk: “They may decide they don’t want to insure any part of the risk and refuse to cite, or they quote and put a TBI exclusion or sublimit limit, or they decide that all of and price for it.
“Those underwriters will look closely at the insured’s historical loss data as well as what their current concussion protocols are.”
Concussion insurance policies only cover the accident but not the casualty portion. However, in many cases, a sports organization or school may already have an accident policy in place that may cover concussion injuries, without requiring an accident-only policy.
The increase in concussion injuries in sports
Concussions are notoriously difficult to diagnose, but recent medical advances have uncovered the serious and long-term health effects these injuries can have. Even a small lump in the head can cause unpleasant symptoms such as nausea, fatigue, confusion, or memory loss.
“The reality is that concussions are inevitable in these sports,” said Harrison Brown (pictured above), co-founder and chief executive officer of HEADCHECK Health, a digital platform that helps sports organizations to properly implement, enforce, and monitor their disorder. protocols.
“In the past, concussion rates were underreported for a number of reasons, including people not knowing the injury, not knowing how to recognize it or document it,” Brown continued.
“So, it seems like there’s been an explosion of concussions in the last 10 years, but that’s not really the case. Maybe the world is just getting better at identifying the injury and managing it.
HEADCHECK The goal of health is simple: they want to avoid mismanagement of head injuries. Their tools help everyone involved in identifying, managing, and caring for a suspected concussion.
For Brown, protocols are key to identifying and managing head injuries, caring for athletes, and ultimately, improving results for the sports industry. But if it is followed correctly, it is a task that most organizations struggle to achieve.
“Part of our job is to make it easier for the organization to implement their concussion policy, whether it’s education, testing, documentation, recovery management, all the way to clearance,” he said.
“The other side is analytics. We have data to do internal audits for leagues, teams, schools, school boards, any organization we work with.
“That means we can identify gaps in compliance and get interesting metrics, like how and where injuries occur, so we can make the organization safer from these risks in the future.”
How data can help carriers understand risk of disruption
HEADCHECK Health data can shed light on injury trends and help organizations prevent future injuries. It works with SMIC to find risk solutions for athletes in the market.
Technology companies can play an important role by obtaining valuable data that helps carriers underwrite cases with athletic performances.
“Ten years ago, insurers had a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ specific concussion question on their supplemental application. Now they want to know more about the insured’s protocols, especially if they have claims,” Brown said.
Organizations with unclear or minimal risk mitigation plans will see this reflected in the rates. But those who use digital platforms like HEADCHECK Health are more likely to see some relief in price or fewer participations and sublimits.
“I think we’ll see more carriers willing to underwrite high-risk sports over time,” Walker said. “By adopting new rules, accessing better equipment, and using new risk mitigation tools, the sports industry will continue to take steps to protect their athletes. This equates to better performance in insurance products.”
Amwins is the largest independent wholesale distributor of specialty insurance products in the US, dedicated to serving retail insurance agents by providing property and casualty products, specialty benefit products group, and administrative services. Based in Charlotte, NC, the firm operates through more than 155 offices worldwide and manages premium placements in excess of $29 billion annually.
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