Changes in the insurance market are creating a problem for the NFL as it looks to protect players from head trauma, according to Steve Fainaru and Mark Fainaru-Wada for ESPN's Outside the Lines.
ESPN reports the league is dealing with "an evaporating insurance market that is fundamentally altering the economics of the sport, squeezing and even killing off programs faced with higher costs and a scarcity of available coverage." Multiple sources told ESPN that the NFL no longer has general liability insurance covering head trauma.
In 2013, the NFL settled a class-action lawsuit with thousands of former players that provided up to $5 million per retirees for serious medical conditions associated with head trauma. Prior to that, there were "at least a dozen" insurance carriers in the market that could coffer coverage to professional football teams. Now, only one carrier, Berkley Entertainment & Sports, remains, reports ESPN.
The NFL has implemented several rule changes over recent years to try to decrease head injuries. Before the start of this season, the league instituted a new rule to reduce targeting. The rule states that players cannot lower their heads to initiate and make contact with opponents, and players who do will receive a 15-yard penalty.
ESPN reports that changes in the insurance market are affecting helmet manufactuers and football at all levels. Youth, high school and college programs are also facing issues with insurance coverage but don't have the amount of money the NFL does.
"Basically, the world has left the marketplace," Alex Fairly, CEO of the risk management firm Fairly Group, told ESPN. "If you're football, hockey or soccer, the insurance business doesn't want you."