2 June 2021

Who pays the bills if you get injured playing sport?

| Karyn Starmer
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Sportsman holding bandaged knee

Sports participants should check the insurance cover for injuries included in their registration fees. Photo: File.

For the legions of weekend warriors playing social sport, the thought of how they are going to pay their bills is not something front of mind as they head out onto the field. But the reality is that injuries happen and the consequences can be long lasting.

Whether you are a tradie or an office worker, a fractured wrist or a significant shoulder injury will mean time off work, and once your sick leave is used, how will you pay the bills?

Yes, lots of sports have an insurance plan built into their annual registration fees, but that cover is usually limited. For some sports, it is very limited, or nonexistent.

Allinsure managing director Peter Chamberlain says while most sports offer some insurance cover in their registration, the level of income protection insurance is typically very limited.

He says the reason for this is because it is not possible to offer a cost-effective one-size-fits-all insurance product that covers the range of ages and circumstances of all participants in any one sport.

“The requirements of a parent with a mortgage to pay is going to be completely different to those of a school-aged participant,” says Peter.

“The premiums required to offer a level of cover that would pay an entire household’s bills and expenses while a player was off work recovering from a significant injury would make registration fees unaffordable for many.

“That is why income protection insurance cover is limited to a small amount in the majority of sports.”

The insurance that is included in a regular sport registration fee will typically cover expenses not covered by Medicare and private health insurance, but with a set cap on the amount and time. Any income protection offered is typically limited to a nominal amount.

“You are unlikely to go anywhere near covering your wages with this type of included insurance,” says Peter.

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“All too often, people either don’t realise there is some cover that will help with some of the expenses associated with an injury, or worse, people can think the insurance included in their registration will cover everything.”

Peter recalls a case where a softball player fell and fractured both wrists.

“This person needed to have home help while they were in plaster for weeks, and that is on top of all the other household expenses,” he says.

Peter recommends all sports participants check the cover included in their sports registration. Most sports will have a link to the insurance and the insurer on their website.

“Have a look to see if that is sufficient to meet your household needs if you can’t work for a period of time,” he says. “If it is not, you should consider having your own income protection insurance policy if you don’t have one already.”

However, Peter warns there are some sports that may be harder to get insurance cover for, and there may be a loading for hazardous activities such as rock climbing and scuba diving.

“Playing sport is a fun part of life, but accidents and injuries do happen so it is always better to know what you are covered for rather than assuming and finding out later you needed more cover,” he says.

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