Getting hurt is a part of sports, but it can mean a significant financial setback to a professional athlete – or worse, the end of a career.

Yes, many athletes are insured against getting hurt – especially by the owners who have a financial interest in the athlete. After all, the teams want to make sure their risks are covered!

But, what about the athlete? Who is protecting them against the loss of THEIR income due to their inability to play because of injury? Who is watching THEIR backs to make sure they have proper protection, that the protection is adequate, and that the protection is appropriately structured for their needs and opportunities? This should be a no-brainer, but it rarely is. You would be surprised [or not] at how many athletes fall prey to poor insurance salespeople and charlatan advisors!

With all the above in mind, I have been asked to share the basics about proprietary disability coverage for professional athletes.  Let’s get started.


Professional athletes are at higher risk of injury every time they train, practice, and compete. This is not anecdotal but has been proven statistically. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, professional athletes are among five occupations with more than 1,000 injuries per 10,000 workers.

Now here is something you may or may not know. Each sport commands unique contract features. Some include guaranteed income to a player, but not all do! Some even allow the team to waive the contract as they see fit.

Players need to be vigilant. They need to be 100% sure of what their contract covers — how much they receive and for how long if they get injured, what injuries are covered, what rehabilitation is included, and who is sending the check. But how many do have this knowledge? Sadly, very few.

We implore all athletes reading this to take particular care on who is advising them on their options to protect their future and their family. The teams are watching their backs [as well they should!]; you must watch yours. If you do not take control of your life, no one else likely will.

But where do you start?


Various flexible insurance solutions are available to protect professional athletes during their current arrangement with their professional organization or if they have not yet signed a long-term agreement. Here are a few:


Critical injury/illness insurance covers professional athletes for major injuries – whether career-ending or not. With this coverage, if the athlete were to tear their ACL, Achilles, Patellar, etc., and return to play the following season, they could still collect a predetermined lump sum benefit to cover the loss of income during their recovery.


In this form of insurance, the Player receives a pre-determined, per-game benefit if the individual is on the team’s Fifty-Three (53) Man Roster or the Official League Injured Reserve List but not on the active game Forty-Six (46) Man Roster due to an accidental injurysickness, or disease.


Not all injuries or illnesses cause career-ending disabilities. Some can undoubtedly cause a diminishment of physical ability. An athlete may insure skill level with the “loss of value” coverage. For instance, if a player projected to be a first-round draft pick suffers a significant injury before the draft and is not selected until the third round, the athlete stands to lose a sizable contract. Professionals may also use this type of coverage before re-signing contracts.


Young athletes commit their lives to reach the big leagues. But before a player can sign a professional contract, they are potentially at risk of losing everything they have worked to achieve should they become disabled due to an injury or an illness. This could affect their draft value and, if severe enough, could destroy their chances of being drafted entirely.


All plans should be tailored to fit each athlete’s unique situation by a competent insurance professional who knows their stuff.

Athletes, you have too much to lose to leave your future up to chance. Do you have the coverage you need? Not sure? Please leave your questions/comments below or contact me for a 1:1 discussion.

Ever onward!

Cindy Fields