How to Manage Uninsured and Underinsured Athletes

Posted by Sarah Doherty
Sarah Doherty

Covered Athletics

I bet you can name the past two or three student-athletes for whose primary insurance had lapsed or did not cover athletic injuries- am I right? And worse is that one of those athletes may be graduating (or quit) and yet you are still paying for their injury! 


One of the most frequently asked questions during our athletic insurance meetings is "How can we lower our secondary insurance premium?". While there are many factors that influence premium year to year, lack of primary insurance is the main culprit. Limiting the frequency and size of claims that hit your secondary insurance will go a long way to program stabilization. Since we can't prevent injuries from happening, the most effective way to control your secondary claims is to ensure your student athletes have VALID primary insurance that DOES NOT EXCLUDE intercollegiate athletic related injuries. 


Here are 6 ideas you can implement within your program to help reduce your secondary insurance plan cost:

  1. Find an insurance partner that offers primary insurance verifications (preferably for FREE) and use the service monthly or at least 4 times a year 

  2. Consider taking it a step further than just verifying the validity by defining more specific primary insurance requirements of your student-athletes. Examples:

    • Health plan must have coverage (not exclude) for intercollegiate sports injuries up to a $10,000 minimum

    • No out of state Medicaid or plans with HMO networks (including Kaiser & Tricare)

    • Require that the insurance plan must provide coverage for outpatient surgery and care withing 60 miles of your campus (or must be accepted at your main medical provider)

    • Primary insurance deductible must be less than $3,000 (or whatever amount you deem appropriate)

  3. Work with a broker that specializes in athletic insurance and can provide student health plans that include benefits for intercollegiate sports- refer this partner to the student health administration to revamp the entire student health plan if possible

  4.  Set up waiver requirements for domestic athletes and if their primary coverage doesn’t meet those requirements then that can work with your athletic insurance expert to assist them in finding an acceptable primary insurance plan

  5. Consider offering a mandatory plan to all international athletes that meets J1/F1 visa requirements and includes at least $10,000 in intercollegiate benefits. This will save you from trying to sift through policies that are not always in English and are often travel reimbursement policies.

  6. Convince your administration to implement a campus-wide student accident plan that would cover all students (including athletes) from $0 to $5,000 of any injury, allowing your secondary insurance deductible to be increased which would reduce premium

It's safe to say that managing insurance is not at the top of anyone's list and that managing your athletic insurance program to this level with plan networks, out of state Medicaid, cost sharing plans and international insurance policies in different languages is a full-time job and can easily add 10+ hours to your already full work week. The value in working with Dissinger Reed is that we can take this work off your plate, become an extension of your athletic department and guide your program to success and savings.


 We welcome the opportunity to showcase what we can do for your program on both primary and secondary insurance this spring. Simply complete our quote request form and we can have a comprehensive proposal back to you in a week or two. If nothing else, you can compare it to your renewal and make sure you are in a good place. Contact us at (913)491-6385 or at


Topics: Primary Insurance, Student Athlete Medical Insurance

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