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NCAA Student-Athlete Medical Insurance Legislation

NCAA legislation requires all institutions to certify that student-athletes have coverage for medical expenses incurred from athletically related injuries within the NCAA Catastrophic Injury Insurance Policy deductible.  Assuming all institutions are in compliance with the regulation, the NCAA catastrophic program deductible will be covered by the student-athletes’ or parents’ personal insurance coverage, through a basic accident medical policy maintained by the institution, or through an institution’s formal self-insurance plan.

During NCAA championships, the NCAA provides supplemental insurance of up to $90,000 in medical expenses for student-athletes who are injured. Once that level is met, the NCAA Catastrophic Injury Insurance Policy activates.

Legislation Reference

Background Information

The NCAA insurance task force wanted to ensure that student-athletes would have adequate insurance to cover medical expenses from injuries sustained during participation in intercollegiate sports activities. The NCAA provides insurance excess of a significant deductible through the NCAA Catastrophic Injury Insurance Program, but previously there was not a consistent method or requirement to verify insurance for expenses within the catastrophic program deductible. This allowed a potential “gap” in insurance that could result in student-athletes incurring significant out-of-pocket expenses. The task force therefore proposed this legislation with the goal of eliminating the potential “gap” and ensuring that individuals covered by the NCAA catastrophic policy would not be exposed to potential uninsured expenses within the deductible. The legislation was voted on and overwhelmingly approved at the 2004 Convention by Divisions II and III. The legislation was approved by the Division I Management Council and Board of Directors at their April 2005 meetings.

Intent of Legislation

The legislation requires NCAA member institutions to certify insurance coverage for medical expenses resulting from athletically related injuries sustained while participating in defined covered events. This insurance coverage must be of equal or greater value than the deductible of the NCAA Catastrophic Injury Insurance Program and may be provided through parents’ or guardians’ insurance coverage, participants’ personal insurance coverage, or the institution’s insurance program. The legislation is intended to ensure that student-athletes have coverage for medical expenses related to injuries resulting from participation in covered NCAA sports activities.

The NCAA and its membership agree that the legislation will create several important benefits:

  • Protects student-athletes/parents from incurring substantial, unexpected, out-of-pocket medical expenses for athletically related injuries.
  • Informs student-athletes/parents of an institution’s position on providing insurance and/or covering medical expenses for athletically related injuries and eliminates misconceptions about the institution’s responsibility.
  • Tracks information about the availability of “other insurance” that can assist member institutions in projecting costs of excess insurance programs.
  • Protects member institutions from a liability perspective because student-athletes/parents are less likely to bring a lawsuit against the institution for an athletically related injury if medical expenses are covered through some form of insurance.