Your most valuable asset isn’t your home, car or any stocks that you own — it’s your ability to earn an income and make a living. As a professional or high-level student athlete, you put your health on the line every time you attend a practice session, training camp or compete in a tournament. Could your family maintain their lifestyle if you suddenly couldn’t play or perform? If the answer to this question is “no,” you should consider investing in a special disability insurance policy designed for athletes.
What is Disability Insurance for Athletes?
Disability insurance is a type of insurance coverage that compensates you in the event that you suffer a major illness or injury that makes it impossible for you to compete in your sport. Having disability insurance is especially important for athletes because even a minor injury can quickly turn into a career-ending one.
There are 2 major types of disability insurance that athletes may invest in.
- Temporary total disability: Temporary total disability compensates athletes who are temporarily unable to participate in their sport (for example, for a spring or fall season).
- Permanent total disability: Permanent total disability compensates athletes who suffer an injury or illness that permanently ends their athletic career.
Some insurance providers also allow you to buy add-on coverage for the cost of agents and managers, lost endorsements and violent crime (for example, extortion or kidnapping).
Disability Insurance for Athletes Explained
Professional athlete disability insurance can take many forms. Specialized insurance providers offer unique coverage options depending on your league and sport.
Disability Insurance for Professional Athletes
Professional athletes have a steady income that they need to protect to ensure that they can continue to support their families if they’re suddenly injured. In addition to temporary and permanent disability insurance, professional athletes may also want to purchase insurance that protects them from nonsports-related incidents that can jeopardize their careers. Customized insurance options can combine things like permanent disability insurance with insurance for lost endorsements.
Select teams may maintain contract completion insurance for an entire team. While this protection typically expires on a seasonal basis, you should check with your manager or director to see what coverage you already have.
Disability Insurance for Student Athletes
If you’re a student athlete who competes in an NCAA sport and you’re projected to be selected early for the upcoming professional draft, you may want to purchase loss-of-value coverage from a private insurance company representing student athletes. Loss-of-value coverage compensates you for projected future professional earnings if you become disabled before the end of your career. You can purchase loss-of-value coverage through a private disability insurance provider.
Best Disability Insurance for Athletes
Purchasing disability insurance can help you protect your income in the event that you can no longer participate in your sport. As an athlete, you have multiple options when it comes to income protection. Let’s take a look at a few of our favorite insurance providers offering coverage suitable for athletes.
Best for Simple Applications: Haven Life
Haven Life is a unique online insurance provider offering disability insurance coverage combined with a simple and straightforward application. Unlike some other insurance providers, you can enroll in a disability insurance policy with Haven Life completely online. Haven Life also doesn’t require you to receive a physical or examination before you sign onto a policy. You can also easily add a life insurance policy to your list of coverages with Haven Life.
Best for Image Protection: Sadler & Co.
If you’re a professional athlete in the public eye, you probably already know that a critical illness or debilitating injury aren’t the only hazards that can end your career. In addition to permanent injury protections, Sadler & Co. offers professional athletes “image protection” coverage that can compensate you in the event that you lose out on income as a result of a public image blunder such as an arrest or drug incident.
Best for Employment Coverage and Part-Time Work: Assurity Life
Many disability insurance providers will refuse a payout if you can work any job — regardless of whether or not you’re approved by your doctor to work in your profession of choice. Assurity is one of only a few disability insurance providers that offers coverage if you cannot work in your current position for at least 2 years. If you do decide to work part time following your injury, Assurity will offer partial payments to compensate you for lost income.
Best for High-Income Earners: Petersen International Underwriters
Most disability income insurance providers limit the total amount of income you can claim per month, regardless of the income that you actually earn over the course of your professional career. In most cases, insurance providers will not offer disability insurance coverage for those earning more than $15,000 a month, with many companies instituting lower limits. If you’re a high-value athlete, you might want to consider high-income disability insurance from Petersen International Underwriters. Petersen provides coverage for up to $5 million per year in income, which is significantly higher than other disability insurance providers. You can also invest in critical illness insurance or life insurance to ensure your income if you become seriously ill during a season.
Best for Riders: Guardian Life Insurance Co. of America
Riders are add-ons to your insurance coverage that you can use to customize your disability insurance policy. Guardian offers you a range of optional riders that can help ensure that the policy you have is as fitted to your needs as possible. From making sure that your policy is noncancellable to scheduling policy income increases on a regular basis, Guardian offers a full selection of disability insurance riders.
How to Compare Disability Insurance for Athletes
You’ll want to consider a number of factors when you shop for disability insurance as an athlete, including the following:
- Types of careers covered: As a professional or student athlete, you know that even the most skilled men and women in your sport risk serious injury every time they play. Athletes are at a higher risk of becoming disabled when compared to less physically intense professionals, meaning that not every disability insurance provider will insure athletes of every sport. Be sure to speak directly with a representative to ensure that your profession is covered.
- Maximum monthly income coverage: If you’re a higher-value athlete, you’ll want to consider a high-income disability insurance policy. Know the monthly and lifetime caps instituted on each disability insurance policy before you sign on the dotted line.
Not sure where to begin your search for insurance coverage? Consider a few of Benzinga’s favorite disability insurance providers below.
- securely through Ladder Life Insurance's websiteBest For:Adjustable coverage
Ladder Insurance Services, LLC (Cal. license # 0K22568; Ark. license # 3000140372) offers term life insurance policies: (i) in New York, on behalf of Allianz Life Insurance Company of New York, New York, NY (policy form # MN-26); and (ii) in all other states and the District of Columbia on behalf of Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America, Minneapolis, MN (policy form # ICC20P-AZ100 and # P-AZ100). Only Allianz Life Insurance Company of New York is authorized to issue life insurance in the state of New York. Insurance policy prices, coverages, features, terms, benefits, exclusions, limitations and available discounts vary among these insurers and are subject to qualifications. Each insurer is solely responsible for any claims and has financial responsibility for its own products.
- securely through Haven Life Insurance's websiteBest For:Under Age 64
Haven Term is a Term Life Insurance Policy (ICC21 Haven Term in certain states, including NC) issued by C.M. Life Insurance Company (C.M. Life), Enfield, CT 06082. In New York (DTC-NY) and California (DTC-CA), it is issued by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), Springfield, MA 01111-0001.
How to Buy Disability Insurance for Athletes
Though the specific process that you’ll go through will vary depending on where you live and the sport that you compete in, you can usually expect to go through the following steps when you compare disability insurance options as an athlete:
- See whether you already have coverage: If you’re looking for coverage to compensate you in the event that an entire season is cancelled or postponed (a common concern during the current COVID-19 pandemic) check with your coach or manager before you invest in an individual policy. Your professional team may already have coverage for these situations.
- Begin comparing insurance providers: As a general rule, you can usually expect to pay between 1% and 4% of your total income. If you’re a high-income professional athlete or you compete in a sport that carries a significantly higher risk of bodily injury, you may have more trouble finding an affordable disability insurance provider. Be sure to start your search for insurance early — consider beginning with a few of Benzinga’s highlighted insurance providers listed above.
- Sign onto your coverage: When you find a plan that you believe works for you, your insurance agent will advise you on the next steps and when your coverage goes into place.
Preparing to Search for Athlete Insurance
If you’re an athlete and you believe you can benefit from disability insurance, it’s a good idea to begin your search for coverage as soon as possible. If you’re involved in a high-impact sport or you’re a high-income professional athlete, you may have a bit more of a challenge finding an insurance company to insure your full income. The key to locating the best coverage is to start your search now — the last thing you want is to become severely injured and find that you cannot get insurance after the fact.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Can professional athletes get disability insurance?
Yes, professional athletes can get disability insurance. However, you may be limited in your choice of insurance provider, especially if you’re a high-income professional player.
Q. Is there insurance for college athletes?
NCAA provides permanent total disability (PTD) insurance through the NCAA Exceptional Student-Athlete Disability Insurance (ESDI) Program. This coverage extends to athletes who suffer a career-ending injury while competing on a college team.
Benzinga crafted a specific methodology to rank life insurance. To see a comprehensive breakdown of our methodology, please visit our Life Insurance Methodology page.