Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Zuffa announces unprecedented accident insurance coverage for more than 350 fighters on UFC and Strikeforce rosters

By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief

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With Zuffa, LLC in control of the vast majority of top MMA fighters the world over after the purchase of Strikeforce in March, the fate of those fighters rests in the hands of those in charge. With no fighters union or association to collectively look out for the interests of these combatants, there is a fear in some parts that this "monopoly" of talent and booking rights could lead to a negative environment, with the leading MMA organization not having any incentive or need to necessarily take care of the fighters above and beyond what they already do.

But the UFC is being proactive nonetheless, and have made a huge statement this week with the announcement of a new insurance coverage plan that will cover all fighters they have under contract not only in the cage, but outside of it as well.

Nearly 350 independent contractors under the UFC and Strikeforce brands will now all be eligible for customized accident insurance coverage. The new policy is being underwritten by Houston Casualty Insurance Company, and will complement the UFC's current policies for in-cage injuries suffered during actual fights. The policy will cover accidental injuries suffered in training, as well as non-training injuries such as automobile accidents.

According to today's press release, "The new policy adds 24-hour worldwide medical life insurance and dental coverage, as well as emergency medical evacuation."

In addition, Zuffa will pay 100% of the premiums for all fighters, and are dedicating staff to handling and filing all claims.

"Our athletes are some of the very best in the world and we've committed significant financial resources to provide them with insurance that complements the gold standard we have set for event-related coverage," UFC Chairman and CEO Lorenzo Fertitta said. "We're pleased to provide coverage that enables our athletes to seek and receive treatment for injuries sustained while preparing for bouts."

"As this sport continues to grow, we have been working hard to secure additional insurance coverage so that our athletes can perform at the highest levels," UFC President Dana White said. "We're proud to give our athletes access to this type of insurance."

Penick's Analysis: This is the type of thing that many have wanted to see out of the organization, even though it's not something they had to do. They have always covered injuries that happen in the cage, and have at times paid for surgeries for fighters that have required them for training injuries, but a lot of fighters have had to travel to foreign countries or have had to seek care by less than desirable means because of the overwhelming costs associated with such medical care. For the UFC to put the money into taking care of every fighter they have under contract like this is one of the best things this company has ever done. Honestly, even with all they've done to bring the sport to where it is so far, this is one of the greatest moves they have made for the good of the sport.

Fighters won't have to go out on their own to get medical coverage, which is surely an extremely expensive endeavor given their line of work. This will also mean that fighters won't necessarily have to try to fight through injuries or hide injuries in training. Fighters that needed the money from their fights in the past have disregarded injuries because of that fact, or because they didn't have the money to take care of what needed to be taken care of. Being covered by the UFC's new insurance plan will allow them to take care of those things when it is needed. There are not enough good things to say about this move, and we'll have more on this as the week goes on and more information is given on the plan. But this initial announcement is exciting news for the fighters, and it's simply an excellent move on Zuffa's part.

Source: http://www.mmatorch.com/artman2/publish/UFC_2/article_9284.shtml

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