It happens every two years. It is a unique mixture of personal interest stories and national pride. Some of the athletes we have watched grow into adults, like Michael Phelps, and others we are just being introduced to for the first time, such as Simone Biles. Regardless how you view it, America has caught Olympic fever.
However, despite the interest in the games, there has been one overarching concern that has hung over the games like a dark cloud, the health of the athletes. A Google search about the Rio Olympics reveals countless stories about the health concerns faced by the Olympic athletes. Polluted waters, car accidents, contaminated food/water, the flu, and of course the Zika virus. On top of that, the athletes can, as always, be injured during competitions.
Are Olympic Athletes Insured for their Injuries?
That begs the question, do the athletes have any protections for their health? Turns out they do. Athletes can actually insure themselves against injuries, death, and temporary or permanent disability. This is similar to the protections sought by many international athletes. For example, in 2006, David Beckham reportedly took out a $78 million insurance policy for his legs. Before the 2015 season, Russell Wilson took out an insurance policy that would have paid him millions should he suffer a career ending injury. These types of insurance policies can be massively expensive and, thus, can be cost prohibitive for the lesser known Olympic athletes.
So what if the athlete cannot afford such insurance? Well, thankfully, most countries’ National Olympic Committees (NOCs) will obtain group coverage insuring their athletes participating in the Olympic games. These insurance policies can even cover flying the athlete back to his or her home country to seek treatment.
So that is two types of insurance that could be used to cover Olympic athletes, but there is a third. Rio’s Olympic Organizing Committee is required to provide medical insurance for the athletes and the game’s officials.
Can you be insured against the Zika Virus?
It seems, with all this insurance, that the athletes would be covered, right? Not so fast. Many insurance policies contain exclusions. For example, most auto insurance policies will not cover a loss resulting from an intentional act, i.e. is someone purposefully runs over someone else. There is concern that Zika issues may fall under an exclusion. For example, these insurance policies could have an exclusion for thinks like infectious diseases, such as Zika. So, truly, it depends on the wording of these insurance policies.
It would be sad to think that these athletes traveling across the word to represent their countries could be left without insurance coverage if they were to contract the Zika virus, but it is a distinct possibility. As you and your family enjoy watching these games, keep the athlete’s safety (both from health and injury concerns) in your thoughts and prayers. And take this time to make sure you are educated about your own insurance policies. For example, do you have coverage if an uninsured or underinsured driver hits your vehicle? What about your health insurance, are you covered for travel to a foreign country? Make sure you are educated and understand exactly what you are paying for.
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