They're not left out on a broken limb

Edmund Tirbutt on the seven-figure insurance deals that protect sports stars and clubs from financial injury

Any sensible business will insure its main assets, whether it is spending pounds 15m on a footballer or a factory. So while it would be little compensation to Newcastle United fans if Alan Shearer picked up a serious injury, the club would be able to claw back some financial compensation.

"You can be absolutely sure that any sports star has been insured up to the full value of his contract to safeguard against disability," says Chris Branch, the managing director of Cigna Re Europe, a sports underwriter.

Around 50 professional footballers are forced to quit every year through injury. A single incident is rarely responsible. It is more likely to be a series of injuries to a particular joint, allied to the general ageing process of the body.

Any sporting risk as large as Shearer is split between at least 30 different insurance companies and syndicates worldwide. Around three-quarters of this business is underwritten in London, the world's leading market for professional sporting risks.

The same principles apply to top showbusiness personalities who depend on their fitness. Michael Flatley's much-publicised calf injury caused him to miss three Lord of the Dance shows recently, and while claims for ticket refunds were limited by the fact he had an understudy, his insurance took a minor knock.

A number of specialist intermediaries dominate particular sports. Windsor Insurance Brokers, for example, handles most professional footballers in Britain and all our county cricketers and licensed boxers.

All the full-time football leagues purchase block cover from Windsor against death or total disablement of their players while on the pitch. But the amount of insurance is relatively modest, so all Premier League clubs, most from the First Division and some from the lower divisions buy additional cover. The very top clubs will take this out for their entire squads, but others insure only their star names. Some players may negotiate with their club to receive a proportion of the payout should they be seriously injured.

The amounts insured can approach the transfer values of the footballers concerned: over 100 players in the Premier League are insured for pounds 1m or more.

Most clubs do not insure for short-term injuries because a large squad of players is a form of self-insurance. The appeal of cover for temporary disability is limited by the cost and by the fact that payment is not made for the first three weeks of disability.

The British Olympic team was also covered under a block policy through Windsor during the Atlanta games. But this was little more than a glorified travel insurance policy, covering baggage and the cost of medical treatment and repatriation for up to pounds lm per individual. Many of the athletes would also have had permanent health insurance to cover their mortgage. This pays a regular income in the event of long-term disability.

Insurers are loath to quote premiums for most sports, stressing that individual risks vary to an extent that precludes generalisations. But as to the level of cover it is not unusual for a Formula 1 driver, say, to take out pounds 3m against death and disability. Top drivers are insured for much more than this. The total claim on the Williams team's policy after Ayrton Senna's death in 1994 was said to have been $17.5m (pounds 11.3m).

Insurers emphasise that motor racing is now far safer than generally imagined thanks to huge improvements in cars and tracks. The same cannot be said, however, for professional motorbike riders. TL Clowes & Co, the leading broker for the motor sports market, says they would be virtually uninsurable if it wasn't for their willingness to ride with broken bones.

The same can be said for National Hunt jockeys, although up-and-coming riders are judged worse risks than the top ones because they have less incentive to carry on riding after an accident.

Participants in professional boxing, skiing, ice hockey and cycling also command some of the steepest rates. Golfers and volleyball players, on the other hand, tend to be good risks.

Chris Farley-West, the managing director of Europea-IMG, the sports insurance company, says sports people often delay arranging cover for longer than they should. "There's a big gap from having had nothing to having quite a lot, and many of them don't want to spend their new-found wealth on insurance."

News
people

Actress sees off speculation about her appearance in an amazing way

Arts and Entertainment
Serge Pizzorno of Kasabian and Noel Fielding backstage at the Teenage Cancer Trust concerts
musicKasabian and Noel Fielding attack 'boring' musicians
News
peopleLynda Bellingham's tragic final Loose Women appearance moves audience to tears
Arts and Entertainment
The last great picture - Winner 'Black and White' and overall 'Wildlife Photographer of the Year'
art
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
people

News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
High notes, flat performance: Jake Bugg
music

Review: Despite an uphill climb to see Jake Bugg in action, his performance is notably flat

News
The Putin automaton will go on sale next month in Germany
videoMusical Putin toy showing him annexing Crimea could sell for millions
News
news

Powerful images of strays taken moments before being put down

News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
S Club 7 pose for Children in Need 2001
music
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
'Right Here' singer Jess Glynne is nominated for Best Newcomer at the MOBO Awards 2014
musicExclusive: Jess Glynne hits out at 'ridiculous' criticism of white artists nominated for Mobo Awards
Voices
'Irritatingly Disneyfied': fashion vlogger Zoella
voices

Arts and Entertainment
Enid Blyton's Magic Faraway Tree is to be made into a series of films
film

Enid Blyton’s Magic Faraway Tree really is being made into a film

Arts and Entertainment
Russell Brand has written a book of political analysis called Revolution
books

Review: Witty banalities aside, the comedian has an authentic voice

Arts and Entertainment
Separated at birth? Frank Sivero (left) claims The Simpsons based Mafia character Louie on his Goodfellas character
arts + entsFrank Sivero sues Simpsons studio over allegedly basing mobster character on Frank Carbone
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Real Staffing

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: The SThree group is a world le...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant Birmingham

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Comission: SThree: The SThree group is a world lea...

Trainee Recruitment Consultants

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £Competitive: SThree: SThree Group and have be...

Helpdesk Analyst

£23000 per annum + pension and 22 days holiday: Ashdown Group: An established ...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London