Rugby stars ‘without injury cover’

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Cape Town – Some of the country’s top rugby players are reportedly not insured if a serious injury prevents them from playing again.

This has emerged in papers before the Western Cape High Court filed by Fin-U-Med Corporate, trading as Sport Solutions, which was appointed to broker a group policy that provided income protection insurance coverage for professional rugby players. The underwriters were Channel Life.

In accordance with a collective agreement entered into between the SA Rugby Employers’ Association (Sareo) and SA Rugby Players’ Association (Sarpa), the Blue Bulls, Eastern Province and Western Province were not a part of the collective agreement. Neither were the Springboks or SA Sevens.

However, certain players from those teams elected to join the group policy on an individual basis, while the rest secured their own insurance coverage.

In the application, Sport Solutions says Sareo and Sarpa nominated it as the designated broker in terms of an agreement for a period of three years from November 2011.

While the agreement was never signed, Sport Solutions chief executive Andries van Rensburg said he had e-mails and minutes of a meeting to prove the company was appointed for that period.

Van Rensburg said that in September last year, however, Channel Life wanted to renegotiate the terms of the prevailing policy because the number of participants was too low and the claims incidence was much higher than envisaged.

It was decided to look at other underwriter options and Van Rensburg started getting alternative quotes.

He was in the process of obtaining a quote from Momentum in “about November or December” when he heard players were told Momentum had been appointed as the new insurance provider and a company called PSG Consult was appointed as the new broker.

Van Rensburg has asked the court to order that his company be reinstated as the rightful broker. It is his argument there was a valid agreement in place between Sport Solutions, Sareo and Sarpa and, in terms of it, he had a first right of refusal.

He added that there were indications that the decision was “fraught with discrepancies and clearly made in great haste” without consideration of the implications.

He explained that, in terms of the Financial Services Board Act and FIAS regulations, those players who did not form part of Sareo, but who chose to be part of the group policy on an individual basis, should have been consulted and signed documentation to agree to be a part of the new scheme.

Since it was his duty to consult with them and he was not afforded the opportunity to do so, it put him in the “unenviable position where I have to inform such players that they are presently without cover”.

While Sarpa has denied this, chief executive Piet Heymans said in responding papers “it is an unfortunate fact that (Springbok players) have not been awarded contracts yet for 2013” and that SA Sevens players would move onto a contract “very soon”.

Heymans also denied Sarpa had a valid agreement in place with Sport Solutions.

The application is expected to be heard on April 23. – Weekend Argus


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