Do You Need Insurance to Play College Basketball? Taking a Look at All Divisions

n this article we are taking a look at the not-so-glamorous side of attending a college to play college basketball. Knowing about insurance needs isn’t fun, granted, but it is important information that you will need to know. Here we are going to look at the insurance needs of all the various basketball divisions that players could possibly attend (either as scholarship players or non-scholarship players). Lets take a deeper look into the insurance requirements for college bound student athletes. The type and cost of healthcare a student athlete will receive will ultimately depend on the school, its governing organization and, finding this information is not always that easy!

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NCAA BASKETBALL INSURANCE

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has certain rules for insurance that student athletes must follow, with most colleges and universities requiring you to have your own insurance policy before playing for the team.

NOTE: Student-athletes are very often still covered under the parents’ insurance policies but you should still be cautious as this is not always the case.

NCAA D1 INSURANCE REQUIREMENTS

The NCAA requires all its member institutions (NCAA member colleges and universities) and their student athletes, to have some form of accidental injury insurance coverage.

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 college basketball activities. The legislation was voted on and approved at the 2004 Convention by Divisions 2 and 3 and was approved by the Division 1 Management Council and Board of Directors in April 2005.

NOTE: In NCAA Division 1 basketball, some colleges & universities guarantee medical as long as a student-athlete is in school. While some colleges & universities offer and provide it for an extra year+.

The NCAA provides insurance excess of a significant deductible through the NCAA Catastrophic Injury Insurance Program. Prior to this, there was not a consistent method or requirement to verify insurance for expenses within the catastrophic program deductible which allowed for a potential “gap” in insurance that could result in you, the student-athlete, incurring significant out-of-pocket expenses!

The NCAA insurance task force therefore proposed this legislation with the goal of eliminating the potential “gap” and ensuring that you were covered by the NCAA catastrophic policy and ultimately, wouldn’t be exposed to potential uninsured expenses within the deductible.

NOTE: The accidental injury insurance comes in the form of health insurance. Health insurance serves to provide the insured student-athlete with coverage for financial loss whether from illnesses caused by specific diseases and sometimes to specify specified diseases that are not covered.

This gap results from the fact that each school is allowed to determine its own policies about how to handle student athletes’ medical expenses. Although universities are allowed to pay their student athletes deductibles, the schools are not required to under NCAA legislation.

According to NCAA legislation, all colleges/universities are required to certify/confirm that their student-athletes have coverage for medical expenses, if they incur any form of athletically related injury within the NCAA Catastrophic Injury Insurance Policy deductible.

The NCAA’s Catastrophic Program Deductible is covered by the student-athlete themselves or a parents personal insurance coverage, through a basic accident medical policy maintained by the school or through a school’s formal self-insurance plan.

NOTE: There are several methods to certify coverage. It is up to each school to determine its preferred method. Click here – Filling in the Gaps – for more information.

Insurance coverage is certified before the start of each playing season. Because insurance circumstances can change, schools may require proof of insurance from student-athletes/parents. Schools can ask for specific insurance requirements and/or updated insurance information at anytime during the course of the year. You cannot participate in basketball practice or competition without correct insurance coverage. Also, you must make sure if you are using coverage by your parents’ insurance policy, that this policy clearly states the “INCLUSION OF COLLEGE VARSITY SPORTS”.

NOTE: It is extremely important that you get insurance coverage that meets the requirements for the NCAA. Any failure to comply would be considered an institutional violation. This means that the school you are attending & playing for may jeopardize its membership in the NCAA if you don’t comply.

Is self insurance an acceptable method?

Yes, it is. If the college or university you are attending 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. However, it is important to note that your formal self-insurance program must include:

    • 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 etc.)
    • A planned method to administer claims

NOTE: The NCAA does not specify where your insurance must come from. You can obtain it via the NCAA school you are attending. Typically this is only for NCAA D1 and, it is not required for them to do this. You may find some schools will only provide secondary insurance. Secondary insurance programs only cover expenses that are not covered by the student’s personal insurance or their parents’ insurance.

What is the NCAA’s Catastrophic Injury Insurance Program?

We have been talking about the NCAA’s catastrophic injury insurance program but do you know what this is? If you don’t, no worries, we are going to cover exactly what this covers in the paragraphs below so you can be clear and fully understand when you are researching insurance coverage.

The NCAA pays the full premiums for the catastrophic injury policy. All member NCAA schools are automatically provided with the insurance coverage. The NCAA catastrophic program provides three main types of benefits: medical benefits, true catastrophic injury benefits, and death benefits.

The medical benefits are available to those “Insured Persons” who meet the deductible within the required time-frame and who incur medical expenses in excess of the deductible as a result of an injury sustained during a Covered Event.

If all institutions comply with the NCAA mandatory health insurance regulations, the catastrophic program deductible will be covered by the student‑athlete’s or parents’ personal insurance coverage or through a basic accident medical policy carried by the institution. The NCAA explains that the goal of this requirement is to avoid a situation where a student-athlete is faced with paying the amount under the NCAA Catastrophic policy deductible out of their own pocket.

NOTE: The NCAA’s catastrophic injury insurance does not come into play until the cost of treatment goes over $90,000.

What is the policy deductible?

A policy deductible is the total amount of eligible medical expenses that must be incurred as a result of an injury sustained during a covered event before the benefits under the NCAA catastrophic policy will be available. As of right now (October, 2022) the deductible is $90,000 (it used to be $75,000). We will keep an eye on any changes and make any relevant updates to this article according to any adjustments made by the NCAA.

NOTE: The deductible must be met within a two year time-frame following the date of your injury.

What do you need to show as proof of insurance coverage?

  • Copy of your current insurance card
  • Completion of an insurance questionnaire requesting the following information:
    • Insurance company info
    • Coverage effective dates
    • Limits/benefits of insurance
    • Deductibles/co-insurance
    • Confirmation that policy applies while participating in intercollegiate sports

Things to think of when you are considering a schools’ secondary insurance coverage:

Coverage will not include:

    • Student-led practices
    • Individual workouts
    • Conditioning sessions outside of the official season

NOTE: You need to make sure you do not let your primary insurance lapse because it is possible for athletic injuries to be considered pre-existing conditions!

Are there any additional NCAA D1 Insurances?

Yes there is. The NCAA also offers a disability program for approved student athletes. This policy protects players against the loss of future earnings if an injury during their college career prevents them from playing professionally. The Exceptional Student-Athlete Disability Insurance Program is only available for qualifying athletes in the basketball (as well as baseball, football and ice hockey)/ Players eligible for this additional insurance program must be approved by the head of the basketball/athletics program.

NCAA D2 INSURANCE REQUIREMENTS

Taking a look into the insurance requirements for student athletes playing NCAA Division 2 basketball things are looking very similar to that of NCAA D1.

Under NCAA rules, as a player, you must be covered by an insurance policy for “athletically related injuries with coverage limits up to $90,000”. As we now know, anything past the amount of $90,000 is when the NCAA’s Catastrophic Injury Policy kicks in.

NCAA bylaws do not require NCAA D2 schools to offer insurance themselves. Your health insurance coverage can come from your own student-athlete personal plan or, like in D1, a parent or guardians’ insurance policy

NOTE: An NCAA survey found that nearly 80% of Division 2 schools are providing insurance coverage on at least a secondary basis.

Here is a list of NCAA D2 survey findings around their insurance policy:

  • Over 50% of Division 2 schools (that responded) pay 100% of the costs for athletically related injuries if a student-athlete does not have primary insurance.
  • 42% of schools have insurance for their college athletes have no out-of-pocket expenses for an athletics injury e.g. prescription costs or primary deductibles.
  • 86% of respondents indicated their school requires college athletes to have primary insurance coverage.
  • If a student-athlete does not have primary insurance coverage, 42% of respondents indicated their school provides it.
  • 64% of respondents indicated their school purchases an accident insurance policy (of these policies, 72% have a two-year benefit period.
  • 10% of respondents indicated their school offers its own self insurance program instead (of these programs, 81% have a two-year benefit period).
  • 5% of respondents indicated their school provides alternative financial arrangements meaning some kind of hybrid model with some self-funding.
  • 21% of respondents indicated they require college athletes to provide their own coverage.

NCAA D3 INSURANCE REQUIREMENTS

Just like the NCAA D1 & D2, D3 schools are required by the NCAA to make sure all their student-athletes have and maintain current medical insurance coverage. This can be through the player themselves, a parent or guardian parental, or the schools medical insurance plans for up to $90,000.00.

A lot of NCAA D3 colleges offer secondary insurance coverage ranging in amount. This secondary insurance covers accidents or injury that occurs during an NCAA sanctioned event. However, student athletes must have and maintain primary health insurance carried through their parent’s insurance, the student-athlete’s employer, or the insurance market place with this insurance covering the costs unless it goes over $90,000.

Policies do vary from D3 school to D3 school so you have to ask the Athletic Director what their insurance policy covers. Some schools will cover sickness and illness (such as infectious diseases) and some will not. Plus, all student athletes are not allowed to practice or participate in games without current medical insurance coverage the same as D1 and D2 colleges and universities.

NCAA INSURANCE SUMMARY FOR ALL THREE DIVISIONS:

We are all aware that student athletes are more prone to injuries than non-athletes, and with the high cost of medical care, just one injury can result in $1000+ of medical bills. All college athletes are required by the NCAA to have healthcare insurance but should not presume that the NCAA is going to pick up all your medical bills. The NCAA does not mandate colleges or universities to pay the healthcare costs for athletes. Yes, you heard correctly. If a player gets injured, it is your primary insurance (your own, or parent/guardians) that is considered the primary insurance for paying for your injury costs. This shouldn’t come as a surprise since the term “student-athlete” was created so that schools wouldn’t be held liable for sports related injuries.

Every college and university are free to create their own policies regarding health insurance coverage. Some colleges and universities will take full responsibility for all medical claims related to their athletics programs, while others will not. There is no national regulation for this so the only thing you can do is speak with the Athletics Director and ask as many questions as possible so you are comfortable and clearly understand where you stand. Knowing this information is vital if you are to avoid any unpleasant expensive medical bills in the future.

NOTE: Players cannot lose their scholarships because of injuries suffered while playing BUT the school is not obligated to renew their scholarship for the following year.

NAIA BASKETBALL INSURANCE

The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) has certain rules for insurance that student athletes must follow. NAIA member schools are required to participate in the NAIA’s catastrophic injury insurance as a condition of membership. This insurance program is managed by “Relation Insurance Services“. The premiums for this type of insurance vary from year to year and, this does depend on the sponsored sport too (ie. basketball or football etc.). The effective dates for this insurance coverage are August 1st to August 1st.

NAIA Athletic Catastrophic Medical Insurance

This insurance is mandatory for all student athletes and covers varsity and junior varsity players. Here is their NAIA Intercollegiate Sports Catastrophic Insurance Enrollment Form.

What are the limits of the NAIA’s catastrophic coverage?

The medical maximum is $5 million lifetime benefit with a $35,000 deductible (per injury), plus all the ancillary coverages (home adaptation, vehicle adaptation, college education, disability benefits, etc.).

NOTE: The deductible must be met within 2 years from the original date of injury.

Who and What is Relation Insurance Services?

Relation Insurance Services are the company who have been providing the high level of expertise and service for NAIA insurance coverage. They have over a decade of experience, and have been one of the USA’s leading sources of specialized insurance programs and services. Relation has a proven track record, which they built up on a solid foundation of expertise, service and accessibility, always delivering what they promise.

Relation has also teamed up with Mutual of Omaha Insurance Company (Mutual of Omaha), one of the
leading insurance providers in the Participant Accident and Special Events industry. Since 1909, Mutual of Omaha has helped provide security to customers nationwide. Mutual of Omah has a solid reputation and trusted name when it comes to assisting in providing security and some peace of mind when you need it most.

NAIA Lifetime Catastrophic Athletic Injury Insurance Summary

It is the NAIA Council of Presidents who are responsible for supervising the Association’s membership insurance programs. They are dedicated to the development and continued availability of quality insurance coverages for NAIA schools and their student athletes. Back in 1985 a unique insurance program approved by the NAIA which became available for the first time to NAIA schools, offering significant and continuing benefits to student athletes who are unfortunate to suffer catastrophic injuries while playing basketball. In 1995 the program was re-evaluated by the NAIA and the benefits were enhanced (this is when the Mutual of Omaha Insurance Company became the insurer of the program).

NAIA Lifetime Catastrophic Athletic Injury Insurance Coverage

Coverage for basketball is provided for:

    • participation in scheduled games
    • supervised practice sessions
    • during authorized group or team travel that is paid for or reimbursed by the participating school in connection with such games or practice sessions.

NOTE: Coverage for Intramural sports is provided for participation in scheduled intramural games only.

Accidental Medical Expenses

NAIA basketball insurance will pay benefits for Medical Expenses incurred by an Insured (you the player) within 24 months (2 years) following a Covered Accident that are in excess of the Covered Accident Deductible. Benefits will not exceed the Maximum Benefit Limit shown in their “Schedule of Benefits” with the Medical Expense meaning, charges for the following:

    • a) of a professional ambulance service for Medically Necessary transportation to and from a Hospital;
    • b) of a Doctor for Medically Necessary care and treatment
    • c) of a Hospital for Medically Necessary inpatient services, including room and board (not exceeding the semiprivate room rate for each day of confinement unless a private room is Medically
      Necessary)
    • d) for Medically Necessary inpatient services and supplies, including intensive care services, and daily Hospital charges for personal Hospital services (including television, radio, telephone, barber, and beauty services)
    • e) for Medically Necessary outpatient and emergency room care and treatment
    • f) for confinement in an Extended Care Facility
    • g) for Home Health Care
    • h) for medical or surgical services, prescription drugs, and other medical supplies commonly used for therapeutic or diagnostic services, which are Medically Necessary and prescribed by a Doctor
      operating within the scope of his or her license
    • i) for care and treatment of mental and nervous disorders by a Doctor
      j) for treatment of subluxation or dislocation of the spine or treatment for the general purpose of correction of nerve interference and its effects, by manual or mechanical means when interference results from or is related to distortion or misalignment of or in the vertebral column
    • k) physical therapy
    • l) prosthetic devices.

You also get:

    • Benefits – Accidental Death, Dismemberment, or Loss of Sight, Speech or Hearing: they pay the benefit amount based upon the Principal Sum shown in the Plan of Insurance for Accidental Death, Dismemberment or Loss of Sight, Speech or Hearing which results solely from an Injury to the player which happens during a covered event only.
    • Disability Benefits – pay benefits to a Partially or Totally Disabled Insured

NOTE: All of which are all subject to the maximum benefit shown in the Schedule of Benefits.

Exclusions & Limitations of the NAIA’s Insurance Coverage:

The NAIA’s medical insurance coverage does not cover you as a student athlete participating in college basketball, for the following, meaning, no benefits are payable for:

    • 1) bacterial infection, except infection of and through a wound accidentally sustained
    • 2) loss from intentionally self-inflicted injury, suicide while sane
    • 3) loss from commitment of or an attempt to commit a felony, or engagement in an illegal activity
    • 4) loss from an act of declared or undeclared war
    • 5) loss from participation in a riot or insurrection
    • 6) loss from travel or flight in or descent from any aircraft, unless the Insured is a passenger for authorized group or team travel on a regularly scheduled flight on a commercial airline, or is a passenger on an aircraft chartered solely for the purpose of travel which has a valid airworthiness certificate from
      the jurisdiction in which operated and which is being operated by a duly licensed pilot
    • 7) charges which exceed the Allowable Expense
    • 8)charges incurred for dental work unless the Insured sustains an Injury which results in damage to his or her natural teeth
    • 9) charges incurred for television, telephone, water pitcher, and other personal convenience items, or expenses for other persons, except as may be specifically provided for elsewhere in this policy
    • 10) charges incurred for services or supplies not specifically provided for in the policy
    • 11) charges which would not have been made in the absence of insurance or which the Insured is not legally obligated to pay
    • 12) charges incurred for cosmetic procedures, unless made Medically Necessary by an Injury
    • 13) charges incurred for eyeglasses, contact lenses, or hearing aids or for any examination or fitting related to these devices unless made Medically Necessary by an Injury
    • 14) charges incurred for care, treatment, or service which is not Medically Necessary to the diagnosis or treatment of an Injury
    • 15) charges incurred for the professional services of a person who either lives with the Insured or is an Immediate Family Member
    • 16) charges incurred for Experimental or Investigational Drug or Treatment
    • 17) charges incurred for articles of clothing which are intended for use more than once
    • 18) routine medical examination and related medical services
    • 19) charges which are recoverable from any other insurance policy, service contract, Workers’ Compensation, or other arrangements of insured or self-insured group coverage
    • 20) charges for mental or nervous disorders, except as specifically provided herein
    • 21) elective treatment or surgery, health treatment or examination where no Injury is involved; (22)
      acts of aggression, assault, or battery
    • 23) fighting or brawling
    • 24) drugs that promote fertility, treat infertility, enable sexual performance,
      or provide sexual enhancement
    • 25) injuries associated with activities or travel outside the United States unless the Injury occurred as part of an Activity held outside the United States and the treatment is not considered an Experimental or Investigational Drug or Treatment in the United States
    • 26) sickness, disease, bodily or mental infirmity, or medical or surgical treatment thereof, or bacterial or viral infection, regardless of how contracted. This does not exclude bacterial infection that is the natural and foreseeable result of an Injury or accidental food poisoning
    • 27) treatment in any Veterans Administration or federal Hospital, unless there is a legal obligation to pay
    • 28) active duty service in any Armed Forces
    • 29) Pre-existing Condition
    • 30) voluntary self-administration of any drug or chemical substance not prescribed by or not taken according to the directions of the Physician
    • 31) Injury caused by, attributable to, or resulting from the Insured’s Intoxication
    • 32) Injury caused by, attributable to, or resulting from the Insured’s use of a Controlled Substance unless administered on the advice of a Physician and taking the prescribed dosage
    • 33) operating a motor vehicle under the influence of a Controlled Substance unless administered on the advice of a Physician and taking the prescribed dosage
    • 34) operating a motor vehicle while having a blood alcohol level that equals or exceeds the legal limit for operating a motor vehicle in the state or jurisdiction where the Injury occurred
    • 35) services or treatment incurred to the extent they are paid or payable under any Other Insurance Plan
    • 36) services or treatment incurred to the extent that they are paid or payable under any automobile insurance policy without regard to fault. This exclusion does not apply in any state where it is prohibited
    • 37) Injury sustained by reason of a motor vehicle accident to the extent that benefits are paid or payable by any Other Insurance Plan.

NOTE: For all the details on the NAIA’s Catastrophic Plan of Insurance CLICK HERE.

CONCLUSION:

Student athlete’s insurance is not something that typically comes up during the recruiting process so it is up to you to ask for the information as part of your own recruiting process. This article only outlines the requirements, policies and guidelines. You will need to ask the specific schools you are looking to attend, directly, to find out exactly what the school covers and does not cover. Be 100% clear. Try and get the policies in writing so you can forward them to your insurance provider so that they can look over everything and provide you with a policy that covers everything you need to be covered. Many are calling for overseeing governing bodies to review and revise its policies on insurance coverage for its student athletes. This is a highlight peak of interest in light of recent reports that show some injuries, such as concussions, can have serious lifelong effects on student athletes.

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