Over $1billion at risk at NHL Olympic orientation camp

Insurance remains sticking point, despite assurances that practices will be light. No-contact practices still present a risk, says sports insurance broker.

Making orientation camp insurance for Hockey Canada more affordable won’t be easy, one broker in the sports insurance business says, as over $1 billion worth of merchandise will be at risk – no matter how little contact may be involved.

“The cost to Hockey Canada is not insignificant of course, but we are still protecting over $1.2-billion in contract value for all of these top players,” says Greg Sutton, the president of Sutton Special Risk. “While there is likely to be very little contact, if any, over these four days of orientation camp, even if there are light on-ice drills, there is still risk exposure there.”

Hockey Canada is looking to finalize plans for Olympic orientation camp this month, but the amount of coverage required makes it “difficult” to insure all the NHL contracts, says Hockey Canada president and CEO Bob Nicholson.

“Insurance is a big issue,” Nicholson told reporters. “We got some quotes that it would be over a million dollars to skate. So if it's that type of dollars, it'd be very difficult for us to do that. But we're just starting to look into that now with the agreement being done.” 

Sutton, the president of Sutton Special Risk in Toronto, has personal disability policies with more than 450 NHL players and also handles insurance matters for the league and many of its 30 teams. He estimates that the cost of insuring the players could be a minimum of $2-million for any national team made up mostly of NHL players.

But a simple injury from a player catching a skate edge on the ice or straining too hard from a lack of preparation can pose a significant insurance risk at the training camps. (continued.)

“A strained knee or back can lead to an extended absence from the start of the 2013 regular season,” Sutton told InsuranceBusiness.ca.

The agreement to send NHLers to the 2014 Sochi, Russia Winter Olympics will take care of insurance during the tournament. But the countries’ individual hockey federations are responsible for insuring contracts for orientation camps.

Team Canada’s first camp is slated for August 25 in Calgary, but player evaluations led by Steve Yzerman have been going on all year. “We’re right on schedule for our planning purposes,” Nicholson said.

Training camp invitations and the announcement of the coaching staff are expected soon, said Nicholson. It is expected that Mike Babcock of the Detroit Red Wings will be returning as head coach, along with assistants Claude Julien (Boston Bruins) and Ken Hitchcock (St. Louis Blues) and Lindy Ruff (Dallas Stars).

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