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This one's for the Olympic athletes: Got disability insurance?

Every two years, just about everyone becomes a sports fan. The Winter and Summer Olympics have a way of drawing people in, even those of us who program our remotes to skip every sports channel on cable (and there are quite a few). The two weeks of Olympics this summer have seen more people than will admit it watching even the preliminary-preliminary heats of swimming and track events. We have no idea what we're watching, but we are transfixed.

Part of the fascination may be that some of the sports are actually dangerous. If a back flip on the balance beam goes wrong, that teenager could end up with a brain injury. Too, spectators can't help but think how they would perform under those circumstances. After watching a track event, a woman we know announced that if she had run that fast for that long, they'd be taking her out on a gurney.

Lucky for us, we have long-term disability insurance that would replace a portion of our income while we recovered. Do the athletes have disability insurance, though? Hard to say about the Olympians, but college players on the fast track to professional leagues may be able to sign up for the NCAA's Exceptional Student-Athlete Disability Insurance Program, and private insurance is always an option.

For some athletes, we can only hope they had long-term disability coverage, because they suffered career-ending injuries while the world watched. We came across an article that reminded us of a few of those injuries.

Joe Theismann, for example, was the NFL quarterback who was hit by a linebacker and went down. Television caught all too plainly the odd angle of Theismann's lower right leg. Both bones were broken. Another NFL-er, Michael Irvin, suffered a cervical spinal cord injury during a game. A defensive back tackled him, and he landed head-first.

Pitcher Tony Saunders broke his arm throwing a pitch in a regular season game. It was a home game, and reports were that "a pin drop could be heard" after the bone broke. Players in the soccer match that saw David Busst's broken leg had more visceral reactions. Busst almost lost his leg as a result of that accident.

If there's a lesson -- beyond the reminder to carry long-term disability insurance -- it may be that skill and talent are sometimes no match for bad luck. Somehow, it makes the couch look a little more inviting.

Source: LifeHealth Pro, "10 Athletes We Hope Had Disability Insurance," Brian Anderson and Noah Guillaume, July 25, 2012

Our firm handles similar situations to the one discussed in this post. If you would like to learn more about our practice, please visit our national long-term disability benefits page.

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