UFC offers fighters health insurance

May 9, 2011

Zuffa announced today that 350 UFC and Strikeforce fighters will be covered under a Zuffa-sponsored health insurance policy. Zuffa will pay 100 percent of the premiums for the fighters.

Via UFC press release:

To date, Zuffa event-related insurance has always met or exceeded Athletic Commission requirements and has covered all injuries sustained during competition. After exploring the purchase of “training insurance” for its athletes for several years – much of which was met with difficulty in finding an insurance company willing to insure mixed martial artists – Zuffa officials were able to secure a comprehensive plan through A+ rated Houston Casualty.

The new policy adds 24-hour worldwide medical life insurance and dental coverage, as well as emergency medical evacuation. Zuffa will pay 100 percent of the premiums for its athletes and have an employee dedicated to handling and filing all claims.

MMA Fighting has more specifics:

Under the current terms of its event insurance, Zuffa covered its athletes — considered independent contractors — for any injuries stemming from a fight. Effective on June 1, according to Fertitta, fighters will receive $50,000 in annual coverage for any injuries that occur while under contract to Zuffa. The coverage includes expected problems like injuries sustained in the course of training, as well as those brought about in everyday life, like car accidents and falls.

Payout Perspective:

Overall, a great step in the right direction if the UFC wants to be thought of as a major league sport. The two big numbers that stand out are 350 and 100.  350 athletes covered by Zuffa is a bigger number than anyone could have imagined. 100% of the premiums will be paid by Zuffa. This is great considering the increase of premiums in health care coverage for regular people. I was impressed that it also covers medical life and dental insurance.

Maybe Randy Couture knew something was happening when he spoke about the need for fighter health care in a pre-UFC 129 interview. The move by Zuffa is good for its employees independent contractors and good for Zuffa. From a PR standpoint, this move helped with its reputation. It also helped with any thoughts of starting a fighter’s union.

This move opens Zuffa up to a lot of exposure. Could there be issues with pre-existing conditions? What happens if a fighter gets sued as a result of a car accident? Does the Zuffa insurance cover as an additional insured?

Its interesting that the same day this is announced, the main event fighters for UFC 130 go out with injuries…and are not covered by the health plan because it does not go into effect until June 1. 

Still, something is better than nothing and the health coverage should help fighters with one less worry while training.

8 Responses to “UFC offers fighters health insurance”

  1. Jason Cruz on May 10th, 2011 5:51 AM

    Although the original press release states 350. It looks like it is more like 400 athletes that will be covered.

  2. BrainSmasher on May 10th, 2011 9:12 AM

    It would be interesting to see where the money comes from to cover this. The UFC runs on a budget like everything else. Im sure it will come from fighter salaries. A little bit from here and there should cover and it and im sure fighters will facot that in during negotiations and not push so much for that extra buck.

    One thing that i didnt realize before is how this could possible kill the chance for anyone to compete with the UFC ever again. I have always been for 1 major promotion. So i think its great. But there is almost no chance of taking a fighter from the UFC now. No start up promotion or Strike Force level promotion could ever offer this insurance and still offer a decent pay to its fighters and turn a profit. I dont see any fighters turning down a UFC contract with free health care. Im sure this wil scare everyone away from even trying to compete. This might have been the move to tur the UFC into the NFL of MMA. IMO, there wont be another Elite XC, WFA, Bodog, Affliction, Pride, IFL, Strikeforce, etc.

  3. Machiel Van on May 10th, 2011 9:32 AM

    It certainly seems like it would cost a lot. This is a great move by Zuffa that will help it reach the “mainstream” status it covets. Good for the fighters and the image of the company.

  4. Jose Mendoza on May 10th, 2011 11:18 AM

    Definitely a big move by the UFC, and an expensive one at that. UFC is now the most fighter friendly promotion in the world and is offering the fighters something no other promotion can.

    On the other hand, the UFC is protecting their goods with this insurance as well, and if they can prolong the fight careers of some of these fighters, that’s a huge plus to the UFC. It also means that fighters would push less for a union if they are being kept happy. Huge cost upfront, but may save them tons of headaches in the future… just something to think about :)

  5. BrainSmasher on May 10th, 2011 1:38 PM

    I always worried that this or higher “rookie” pay could cause the UFC to cut back on prospects. Its like the back and forth problem the NFL has. You raise the Veteran minimum salary then good players are released for younger, less talented players who are cheaper. This was a big problem a few years ago. But it Veterans become to cheap teams will pass on more talented rookies to save a buck. If the UFC has to much invested in these no name fighters they are giving a chance of a life time to then they could look at, imo, the short term solution. Which is keep Veteran gate keepers who people know and like but are not just good enough rather than look for new stars. For every Jon Jones there are 20 Jason Reinhardt. The higher the cost of a Reinhardt the more tempting it is to keep the Baroni’s, Hazellette’s, and Gurgels who have name value to add to a card, have a following and sell tickets. I think it is very important the UFC never slow down its efforts to find the best fighters in the world. Once you close the door to get in the UFC you have the problem i believe Pride ran into. Which is a stale talent pool that declines year after year. Hopefully this decision by the UFC doesnt effect the product down the road.

  6. mmaguru on May 10th, 2011 5:02 PM

    That’s a nice gift for the Strikeforce fighters. Were they getting any type of coverage prior to the Zuffa acquisition?

  7. geez on May 10th, 2011 6:24 PM

    theyre doing this because once again nick diaz exposed mma having little money…so they cant give out more cash so an insurance would look good in place of cash….its the same stunt as giving not sure if it was koscheck a hummer to hype the pay…but tito ortiz exposed the stunt as another smokescreen not to pay the fighter cash…

  8. Machiel Van on May 12th, 2011 7:34 AM

    “…so they cant give out more cash so an insurance would look good in place of cash….”

    Yeah, because it doesn’t cost a ton of extra money to insure 400 MMA fighters all year long. Geez geez, are you serious?

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