From the February 2014 issue of Investment Advisor • Subscribe!

January 27, 2014

Insurance for the Field of Dreams

Now sports fans in fantasy leagues can insure their top players against injuries

Say you have a client (or yourself, perhaps) who’s heavily into fantasy sports. So heavily, perhaps, that he’s one of the 25 million-plus players who fork over more than $1 billion annually for the privilege of putting together a “dream team” of actual football (or baseball or basketball or hockey) players and pitting them against other similarly constructed teams.

While this rapidly growing activity can be free, for those investing actual money in their teams, fees can range from $20 to as high as $500 or even $1,000, depending on the league. And with some devotees “owning” multiple teams, what could be more frustrating (and costly) than—as in real life—drafting a player who ends up sidelined with an injury and missing all the action?

Well, now there’s a solution for that: FantasyPlayerProtect, real insurance coverage for fantasy sports players. The brainchild of Phoenix businessman and fantasy gamer Joseph LaGiglia and the product of a partnership between FantasyPlayerProtect LLLP and MiniCo Insurance Agency LLC, the coverage will reimburse gamers for up to $1,000 in league entry fees and up to $250 for “ancillary expenses” such as subscriptions incurred in the course of “maximizing the value of your fantasy team” should a covered key player be injured and unable to play.

Gamers can insure up to five key players on a team and no more than 10 players in any one fantasy sports season. There are four coverage options for football, relating to the championship games in weeks 14, 15, 16 and 17 of the season. Premiums (yes, the premiums are real too) run between 9% and 13% of a gamer’s league fees. There are restrictions on when coverage may be purchased and on which players, and each player insured is covered according to underwriting for that specific player.

The whole thing, as appropriate for a sport run entirely online (albeit with real player stats), can be handled online; a policy portal at FantasyPlayerProtect.com handles everything from the application to purchase and policy issuance. MiniCo serves as the program administrator for the coverage, and FantasyPlayerProtect provides product design and marketing consulting services for the program. The policy itself is underwritten by carriers rated A by A.M. Best.

While MiniCo is not usually known for such coverage—founded, according to the company’s website, in 1974 as a provider of specialty insurance products and publications for the self-storage industry—it’s since branched out. It’s a member of the Aran Insurance Services Group, and these days offers not only self-storage coverage but also products for collectibles, agribusiness and sports activities (real and fantasy).

But it may be onto something with this new coverage. “Fantasy sports gamers spend a lot of time and money on their fantasy teams as part of the ownership experience,” said John LaCava, president and CEO of Aran Insurance Services Group, in a comment on the firm’s website. “FantasyPlayerProtect is the next logical step for serious fantasy sports gamers to protect their teams.”

Interest is running high, according to LaGiglia. “The total policies sold figures won’t be available until after this year’s Super Bowl,” he said. However, he added that the firm expects “exponential growth in 2014” and has already gotten “hundreds of pre-signups for our FantasyPlayerProtect insurance product relating to all of the top four U.S. fantasy sports (football, baseball, basketball and hockey).”

While at this writing the teams heading for the Super Bowl were still fighting it out to get through the playoffs, by the time this article hits print the game will be only a few days away and the season nearly over. So what’s a fantasy league gamer to do till football season starts again? Take heart, and work up a basketball, hockey or baseball league. According to LaGiglia, “We hope to have most, if not all, available for the 2014 seasons.”

If American sports aren’t your thing, LaGiglia has a ray of sunshine for you too: “As we continue to grow FantasyPlayerProtect’s presence domestically, we believe future opportunities may develop due to the rising popularity for international fantasy sports such as soccer (football), cricket and rugby.”

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