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How player insurance works in Rugby Union and the modern challenges facing insurers

Friday, 10 January 2020 By Bilal Mirza

The 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan can be considered a success not only for the manner in which the tournament was delivered but also the fantastic way in which the teams all played.  It’s hard to believe this is only the 9th finals - the tournament has grown from its humble beginnings in the 1997 to its present-day global audience. The competition adds additional pressure on the international governing body, World Rugby, as well as national governing bodies and the various stakeholders to maintain the standards and protections necessary for the success of a leading international sport.

At the heart of the sport is the player.  And from an insurance perspective, the player is the ‘asset’ in which clubs have invested a significant amount of time, money and resources and have a financial stake.  So, when players take to the field in this fast moving, high-energy contact sport it is extremely important that the “assets” are protected as best as possible.   Today, there are a number of challenges facing insurers who operate in the market and provide insurance coverage to players, clubs and governing bodies.  These include the requirement for compulsory liability insurance to protect the players welfare and support for rehabilitation, a protocol and framework for concussion injury and management of concussion, wage inflation for players, and a growing global audience. 

Accordingly, this article explains how player insurance operates in Rugby.  Specifically, it looks at:

  • the insurance obligations at international level under World Rugby’s Regulations;
  • the insurance obligations at club and amateur level; and
  • the contemporary challenges facing insurers and the state of the insurance market.

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Written by

Bilal Mirza

Bilal Mirza

Bilal  is a city Partner with 23 years’ experience of  working with the insurance industry for insurers and re-insurers and specialist Brokers across the market. His sports law practice includes dealing with all insurance related sports and specialist event matters to include claims, quantum, policy wording, indemnity issues, risk coverage, regulatory coverage and advising and defending sports related injuries . He has significant experience and is a skilled Litigator and has experience of  Arbitration and Mediation arising from amateur, semi-professional,  professional and elite level.  He has represented and advised clubs, teams and individuals as well as national governing bodies, county bodies and sporting organisations, unions and event organisers ultimately with the aim to seek best outcomes for all working in a collaborative manner. 

His experience includes having advised and worked with insurers and The FA in establishing the National Grass Roots insurance scheme ( NGIS). He has advised upon and dealt with some high profile matters  involving elite international Rugby players and their insurers as well as international motor racing drivers, jockeys, horse racing matters and Football clubs.
He has a proven and strong record of commercial and business acumen and financial skills across legal business and non-legal business. That combined with his in-depth knowledge of the insurance industry gives him the ability to have a good insight of best practice and ability to manage the needs and outcomes for both insurers and the sporting community, its participants and their various financial and non-financial stakeholders.

He has a particular interest in motorsports have raced karts since a young age and also runs his own kart racing team.

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