By Ken Reed

I’ve written in the past that what might ultimately take down high school football is insurers’ refusal to take on the risks associated with the sport. The premiums to cover high school football might rise so high after a few concussion-related lawsuits that schools and school districts simply won’t be able to afford insurance coverage for football. Similarly, family healthcare plans might eventually exclude injuries suffered by children while participating in football.

Inevitably, the growing mound of brain trauma and concussion research will lead to lawsuits at all levels of the game. Football-related risk and liability will be hard to contain for school districts and their insurers. And, when risk and liability can’t be contained, insurance premium costs will shoot up, making the sponsoring of football cost prohibitive for high schools.

This theory gained some credibility recently when Haruki Nakamura, a former NFL defensive back for the Baltimore Ravens and Carolina Panthers, sued Lloyd’s of London to force it to honor a $1 million disability policy the company sold him.

Now, granted, personal disability insurance for an NFL player is different than catastrophic accident insurance policies carried by schools and/or school districts. But the implications of concussion lawsuits for insurers is clear.

In a New York Times article on Nakamura’s lawsuit, Ken Belson wrote:

“The increasing awareness of the problems associated with severe head trauma could lead more players who suffer brain injuries to file claims, but it could also prompt insurers to increase the cost of their policies, or even exclude concussions from the coverage.”

Lawyers are certainly cognizant of the situation.

“There is an awareness that is so far from what existed even five years ago,” said Joshua Gold, a lawyer who specializes in insurance recovery cases. “It must be frightening for underwriters who take on these risks.”

The issue must also be frightening for the schools, school districts and state high school athletics associations that sponsor football.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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