Zuffa, LLC to Provide UFC and Strikeforce Fighters Free Accident Insurance

Written by Tom Ngo
May 9th, 2011

Zuffa, LLC, the parent company of the UFC and Strikeforce, has bumped up their healthcare coverage in a major way. During Monday’s fighters summit in Las Vegas, Nevada, the world’s premier mixed martial arts promotion announced they will offer all of their athletes free accident insurance, which will cover out-of-competition injuries, starting on June 1st.

“We looked at this as a necessity for the sport and something that needed to happen,” Zuffa CEO Lorenzo Fertitta stated. “We have talked about this for a long time and we have always had the same position when asked how fighters could have insurance outside of the fights. Like we said, it’s tough enough to get insurance just as a business, in and of itself, with how expensive it is.

“When you go to an underwriter and say, ‘Hey, we potentially want to insure 400 ultimate fighters,’ they pretty much close the door on you pretty quickly. We didn’t just give up, given the responses we were getting and the answers we were getting from a lot of these carriers. We continued on and it has been a 24-to-36-month process we have been going through to do it. We were adamant we were going to find a way to put this together.”

Prior to today’s report, Zuffa was already operating above protocol in regards to their event coverage. According to Yahoo! Sports, the UFC offers a $100,000 insurance policy on each athlete DURING their fight to cover any injuries sustained inside of the Octagon. Most athletic commissions only require $50,000 worth of protection, while some states request as low as $25,000 per contestant.

The ultimate goal for any mixed martial artist is to be employed by the UFC, but fighters (boxers included) are independent contractors. If they don’t fight, they don’t get paid. Furthermore, they have to pay their own way when it comes to maintaining their bodies.

Although, Zuffa has graciously picked up the tab for several stars that were injured during training in the past.

Keep in mind, the insurance the fighters will be offered by Houston Casualty Insurance Company is completely different than the health care regular employers across America are providing. Typically, doctor’s visits (with a co-pay), hospitalization and prescription drugs would be covered.

Zuffa is not offering their independent contractors that type of protection, but they will pay for all premiums resulting from each claim.

“This will cover accidents that occur while a fighter is under contract with us,” Zuffa general counsel Lawrence Epstein added. “Those accidents could occur in training or it could also be something like an automobile accident. A fighter could be driving to the grocery store and gets involved in an automobile accident and has an injury. This policy would cover him.

“It’s not a policy you would typically see in an employer-employee relationship. It’s more akin to an auto insurance scenario, where any acute injury is going to be covered. Training injuries, a guy falls down the stairs, an automobile accident, those would be covered, but it wouldn’t be something like the flu or some disease or illness. It would only cover accident-related injuries.”

The news comes as a welcomed surprise for Zuffa fighters. The injury bug has destroyed countless cards over the years due to training-related injuries, leaving athletes scrambling to scrounge up money to cover their medical expenses.

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