After years of blood, sweat, and tears, your athletically-gifted student athlete has landed a full scholarship to play their favorite sport at the college level. This is exciting, life-changing, and something that could possibly open doors for them following their college career. But as you well know, playing any sport at an elite level can also open the door to injuries that can sideline them for a game, a month, or have long-term effects on them for the rest of their lives.
While it’s justified to be excited for the student who will soon enough don their university’s jersey on the playing field or court, it’s important to be aware of not only the physical and medical risks that possibly await them but the convoluted medical insurance risks too. Medical disability insurance plans are in place to help families navigate the confusing process of insuring student athletes who are away from home. But before the whistle blows and the puck is dropped or basketball is tipped, let’s see how specialty insurance for college athletes works.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has certain rules and regulations in place regarding insurance for athletes who play collegiate sports at all of the universities in their system. Most colleges and universities now require that students who play sports must have their own insurance policy before joining up on a team. In most cases, students are often still covered under their parents’ insurance policies, but that isn’t always the case, making it important for specialty insurance to be considered.
Currently, the NCAA has an insurance program that covers football, men’s and women’s basketball, baseball, and ice hockey, but not the myriad of other sports that students participate in every day.
Who Pays and What’s Covered?
As mentioned, the NCAA requires that all athletes have to have insurance in order to play a sport for their college. The schools are not required to cover what the insurance doesn’t after a claim is filed. This leaves it to the parents, guardians, or the students to take out policies and pay out-of-pocket costs. Once a treatment for an injury exceeds $90,000 the NCAA covers the cost under its Catastrophic Injury Insurance Program.
What Can Parents and Students Do?
To protect a student athlete there are several things that can be done by the student and their parent(s). First, it’s important to meet with an athletic director or associate at the college and ask them what the college’s current policies are regarding insurance protection for the student in question. Next, contact an insurance program and obtain the right specialty medical insurance for the athlete and get this in place first. Having too much insurance is better than not having any at all. And considering the NCAA’s rules exclude a number of athletes and sports, opting for your own medical insurance is your best bet.