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NCAA Insurance Legislation FAQs

Does the legislation require that the institution purchase insurance coverage for student-athletes?

No. There are several methods to certify coverage, and it is up to each member institution to determine its preferred method. See the certification flowchart and document titled Filling in the Gaps for more information on this topic.

When and how often should an institution certify that coverage is in place?

Ideally, coverage should be certified before the start of each playing season. At a minimum, an institution should certify coverage before the beginning of each academic year, before student-athletes begin practice or competition. Because insurance circumstances can change, institutions requiring proof of insurance from student-athletes/parents may consider reminding them of insurance requirements and/or securing updated insurance information from them during the course of the year. It is also effective to coordinate primary insurance verification with the time the student-athletes are reporting for physicals and with timing of health insurance open enrollment.

Does certification need to occur before the student-athlete begins practice or competition?

Yes. In order to comply with legislation, the member institution should not allow a student-athlete to begin participation until insurance has been certified.

What do we do if a student-athlete does not have insurance for athletically related injuries?

If the institution does not provide coverage through an accident medical policy, state-funded plan, medical services agreement or formal self-insurance program AND a student-athlete does not have other coverage, the institution should do one of the following:

  • Purchase coverage and bill the student-athlete.
  • Purchase coverage and pay for it.
  • Offer guidance on sources for securing coverage (and then follow standard procedures for getting evidence of insurance).
  • Deny participation until proof of insurance is provided. Please note, a violation of this requirement does not affect student-athlete eligibility but is an institutional violation.

What is the penalty for noncompliance with the certification requirement?

Since the requirement is an obligation of membership, failure to comply would be considered an institutional violation, and the institution may jeopardize its membership in the NCAA.

Are institutions required to certify coverage for cheerleading squads and other individuals who are not part of the athletics department?

No. The legislation does not apply to these individuals, only to student-athletes. In Divisions I and II, the legislation also applies to prospective student-athletes participating in a covered event (defined in legislation) who have graduated from high school and signed a National Letter of Intent or an institution’s written offer of admission and/or financial aid to participate in an intercollegiate sport at a participating institution.

Is self-insurance an acceptable method of certifying coverage?

Yes. If the member institution has a formal self-insurance program to cover expenses up to the NCAA catastrophic policy deductible, this would be considered an acceptable form of insurance provided by a member institution. Please note, however, that a formal self-insurance program is a program that includes a written plan outlining what losses will be paid, a financial means to fund the losses (for example, pay as current expense, set up formal reserve, establish a captive, purchase stop-loss coverage where an insurance company pays losses after a certain threshold is reached), and a planned method to administer claims.

Does certification mean making sure every dollar of expense up to the NCAA Catastrophic Injury Insurance Program deductible is covered by insurance?

No. From a practical standpoint, insurance policies will be subject to deductibles and/or co-insurance requirements. Therefore, certification does not mean verifying that every dollar of expense within the deductible will be covered, but that the majority of expenses will be covered. If the institution provides coverage that includes deductibles or co-pays, but does not pay for the uninsured expenses, the institution should advise parents and students of the deductibles and co-pays.

If a student-athlete has coverage through an HMO that’s only valid in the state where that student-athlete lives, does that satisfy the NCAA’s requirement if the student-athlete attends a school outside that state?

Yes, it satisfies the NCAA’s insurance requirement. However, it may not comply with an institution’s policy if it requires locally billable primary insurance. If applicable, it should also be disclosed to parents/guardians that they are responsible for any costs not paid by insurance if the university does not cover those costs.

Can the institution pay the deductible of a policy provided by the student-athlete without eligibility concerns?

Yes, an institution can pay the deductible of a policy provided by the student-athlete, or the institution’s own policy, for an individual or individuals without providing an extra benefit and thus subjecting the institution or student-athlete to eligibility concerns.

Does government-administered health care coverage (for example, TriCare or Medicaid) meet the NCAA’s insurance requirement?

Yes, coverage provided by government-administered programs does satisfy the NCAA’s medical insurance requirement. However, it may not necessarily comply with an institution’s own policy, which may require billable primary insurance for student-athletes since these government-administered health care programs have taken the position that those policies are the payer of last resort, including to any basic accident coverage maintained by the institution, which may be intended to be excess.

Does a health sharing ministry program meet the NCAA’s insurance requirement?

Yes, such arrangements also satisfy the NCAA’s medical insurance requirement. However, it may not necessarily comply with an institution’s policy requiring billable primary insurance for student-athletes.