Every year, 19 million sports injuries are reported to GPs or hospital emergency departments - a quarter of them caused by football. For most people, the only way to soften the blow is to have some form of insurance cover.

The first step is to check whether you are covered by a work scheme. Many employers do have group medical insurance schemes for their staff. You can then receive non-NHS treatment if necessary.

The problem comes where employers' policies have a clause excluding certain sports, or even sports deemed to be dangerous. In this case, private cover is needed.

Bupa does not have a specific sports injury policy. But its BupaCare scheme, typically costing pounds 41.61 a month for a single person aged 30, gives cover for any in-patient hospital treatment. This includes X- rays, surgery and hospital stays. BupaCare policies also provide out-patient treatment, such as physiotherapy, costing up to pounds 500 a year. Sports clubs can obtain cover for individual members at a 15 per cent discount.

Another route is to insure the entire team rather than the individual. IGI Insurance, based in Nottingham, provides this service for most team sports. Its most popular cover is for football clubs.

Mark Searcy, business manager at IGI Insurance, said: "We price the cover for a club in units of pounds 100, which means they can choose exactly how much they spend. The cover is for an amateur team of up to 20 players. Each pounds 100 will buy pounds 1,000 compensation for death, loss of eye or limb, or total disablement. Benefit of up to pounds 10 per unit per week for a total of 104 weeks is also paid to those in gainful employment, subject to a seven- day deferment." There is also pounds 500,000 public liability cover.

Although the amount paid is not generous, in soccer there are roughly three individual claims per season for every four policies. Rugby, which is three times as risky, costs pounds 200 per unit of cover. Hockey comes in at about pounds 30, with cricket costing pounds 30 and volleyball and netball pounds 25.

Another company, Amsport, offers the Gameplan policy against sporting injury. It covers 101 different sports, including aerobics, tennis, golf, squash, ice hockey and martial arts. Cover starts from pounds 3.55 a month for low-risk sports, up to pounds 10.55 a month for high-risk activities such as American football.

It includes benefits of up to pounds 100 a week, plus hospital benefits of up to pounds 30 a day, dental fees of up to pounds 275, plus physiotherapy costing up to pounds 300.

Those permanently disabled receive up to pounds 75,000 and pounds 37,500 is paid on accidental death. Liability insurance of up to pounds 1m is included.

- Nic Cicutti

Sports insurers: IGI Insurance phone 0115 9411022; Amsport phone 0171 7218656; Bupa phone 0800 600500.