As Rugby World Cup fever builds, it’s likely more players of all abilities will be running with the oval ball and independent advisers Drewberry believes this is the ideal time to raise awareness of the need to take out income protection cover.
England is hosting the 2015 World Cup tournament, which takes place from 18 September to 31 October. Rugby is officially the world’s most dangerous team sport, according to the British Journal of Sports Medicine (BJSM).
The BJSP report shows that injuries can take months to heal, while in the worst cases, players can be left permanently disabled. You can find the research
Income protection insurance provides a replacement salary if someone becomes ill or injured and cannot work. It pays out around 60% of salary and payments often start when someone’s entitlement to their employer’s sick pay stops, if they have any. Self-employed people can also purchase income protection.
Drewberry Director Tom Conner says: “The good news for amateur, non-professional rugby players is that they can often obtain income protection without a premium increase. Perhaps surprisingly, insurers often do not have recreational rugby as a policy exclusion.
Yet, injuries on the pitch are common, which could mean being unable to work, potentially for a prolonged period of time. We thoroughly recommend income protection cover for anyone who plays rugby and who would have financial difficulties if they were off work. The main reason that prevents many players from taking out this cover is a lack of awareness.”
What risks do rugby players run?
Typical injuries for rugby players include sprains, dislocations and broken limbs, while, according to the England Professional Rugby Injury Surveillance Project (2013-2014), concussion was the most commonly reported Premiership match injury, accounting for 12.5% of all match injuries. This is followed by thigh haematoma and medial collateral ligament injuries. However, injuries don’t just occur during matches – they can also be commonplace during training.
According to Mr. Conner: “Professional rugby players are likely to have specialist insurance or be covered through their contract. But, amateur players are dangerously exposed if they do not have cover. We are aware of many cases where clients have been forced to take time off work. Without income protection insurance, there can be severe consequences in terms of being able to meet essential costs such as a mortgage and household bills.”
Do bigger players equal more risk?
A number of studies have shown that globally, rugby players are getting bigger, which potentially means more serious injuries when they tackle and collide, and there can also be severe injuries cased during scrums.
For example, the 1980 Irish side that played England averaged 13st 12lb (88kg) per man, in 2014, the team playing England was close to 16st 7lb (105kg). Last year it was also reported that the Welsh squad was the heaviest in the Six Nations, weighing in on average at 16st 8lbs.
The England eight man scrum weighed in at 910kg in the final Six Nations match – just over 18 stone a man. The heaviest was Billy Vunipola who weighs 19st 11lb.
England Professional Rugby Injury Surveillance Project, published in collaboration with Premiership Rugby and the Rugby Players’ Association, has shown that while the rate of injuries remained stable during the 2013-14 season, the severity of injuries continues to grow in the professional game.
In total, some 739 injuries were sustained during matches, which caused a player to miss training or a game. The average injury caused a player to miss 26 days; in 2002, when the project began, the average severity was 16 days absence. Meanwhile, training now accounts for a third of all injuries (a total of 414). At any one time during the season the average Premiership club will be without a quarter of their squad.
Passion for rugby set to rise
Longer term, the UK is likely to see more rugby players. This follows the work of the Rugby Football Union’s (RFU) All Schools Programme, which has Prince Harry as its patron. Recently, England players helped raise £500,000 to encourage more schools to become involved. The project is on target to introduce rugby to 400 secondary state schools by the time the Rugby World Cup kicks off in September 2015. The aim is to add another 350 schools by the next Rugby World Cup in Japan in 2019.
Mr Conner concludes: “Many of us are looking forward to the World Cup and excitement is growing fast. It is also to be welcomed that more are set to take up the game. But, it will always be a contact sport and one which carries more risk than others, including football. Even those playing in friendly games can suffer an unexpected and serious injury and having income protection insurance can at least kick financial worries into touch.”
What about rugby players and BMI?
Income protection insurers medically underwrite, which means they ask a number of health related questions to determine how insurable someone is. One of the factors taken into account is the Body Mass Index (BMI) and having a high BMI means someone is classed as overweight and so potentially more likely to have health conditions.
However, rugby players are likely to have a high BMI yet also be physically fit. So, how do insurers take this into account? Drewberry spoke to a number of underwriters about this and it seems that they are unlikely to view BMI in isolation. This means that if you are deemed as overweight, it can result in a higher premium and in the worse case, being declined altogether.
If you are fit and have a higher BMI because of your build and muscle, then it makes sense to talk to an adviser. They will speak to the insurer on your behalf and discuss the reasons for your BMI. If you have a high BMI that results from a higher concentration of muscle than average – you may still be able to obtain standard terms with certain insurers subject to a satisfactory nurse screening, cholesterol check and fasting blood glucose check.
The England Rugby World Cup squad and BMI