In light of the sad news last week which saw professional Cricketer James Taylor retire from the sport at aged 26 due to a heart condition – we felt it’s an apt time to re-affirm our belief that sport specific career ending insurance for elite level sportsmen is a must have part of their financial planning.
In the instance of James Taylor, he was/is a very normal, fit, healthy 26 year old sportsperson and was playing in a pre-season friendly for Shropshire Cricket Club when he was taken ill. He was rushed to Nottingham hospital where it turned out he has rare heart condition known as arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC). Vigorous exercise can exacerbate the condition and may cause sudden death.
Thankfully James Taylor is alive and well to tell the tale. At this present moment, there is no cure for his disease but there are factors that can limit its potential damage.
Heart failures within sport are an increasing concern. In a recent article in the Guardian, Perry Elliott, professor in inherited cardiovascular disease at University College London stated ‘Many professional sports associations [and] clubs organise regular screening for their athletes, in the form of an ECG alone, or sometimes an ECG and an echoscan.”
The article went on to say – in Italy, all athletes taking part in organised competitive sports are required to undergo screening, but in the UK systematic screening to prevent cardiac death is not recommended.
“There has been a debate with our national screening committee as to whether or not all athletes should be screened, and the current government policy is that the evidence is insufficient to justify screening everybody. But there are potentially higher-risk groups such as professional athletes who could be screened by their own professional associations,” says Elliott.
Obviously, any career ending insurance policy won’t be limited to heart diseases. There are a number of different definitions within each sport and each provider’s policy wording.
In early 2015, First Wealth unfortunately went through the claims process with client and ex-professional footballer Mikele Leigertwood.
Mikele now helps speak to clients on our behalf in regard to this type of insurance. Having a sportsman engage with prospective clients is extremely helpful.
Mikele was forced to retire after a freak fall during a game caused a very acute problem at the top of his femur bone and caused retirement. The career ending policy paid out in full and made a huge positive difference in both the financial and mental aspect that early retirement through injury can bring.
Often professional clubs or associations will contribute towards the cost of the policy and there are monthly payment plans available to spread the cost over a year.
The level of cover needed is very client specific – do they have a family? Any large outstanding mortgages or financial commitments? Can they afford the premiums? What other income or assets do they have if their main source of income stopped….. etc All of this is taken into account when assessing alongside the clients’ views.
It is worth noting that in professional football specifically, clubs in the premier league are only obliged to pay 12 months on a contract if one of their players suffers a career ending injury. In the Championship (where’s arguably needed more) it’s only 6 months – the 5 year contract you’ve just signed unfortunately doesn’t mean a great deal if you suffer a career ending injury. Morally whether a club would continue to pay is a debate for another day. However, as with all non-legally required insurance, they seem expensive until you need to make a claim – at which point it becomes the best thing you pay you’ve paid for!
If you would like to discuss your options, please give me a call on 020 7267 2700.
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