(“This is a fantastic day for the UFC in general, and for Tito Ortiz specifically.”)
In a significant step forward for the care of its athletes, the UFC announced today that it will begin providing out-of-competition accident coverage for its roster of fighters, effective June 1st. While the UFC has always provided insurance policies to cover injuries sustained during fights, fighters were generally on their own for injuries suffered during training. The UFC’s new policy — underwritten by Houston Casualty Insurance Company — will cover those kinds of injuries, as well as non-training incidents such as automobile accidents. Zuffa will pay 100 percent of the premiums.
As Lorenzo Fertitta told Yahoo! Sports: “We looked at this as a necessity for the sport and something that needed to happen. 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.”
Kevin Iole adds: “The insurance the fighters are being provided is separate and distinct from health care insurance many workers get through their employers, which pays for things like doctor’s visits, hospitalization and prescription drugs. Zuffa is not offering the fighters that type of coverage.”
Out-of-competition insurance has been brought up lately in discussions about the need for unions in MMA. Today’s announcement may suggest that the UFC is willing to make some necessary concessions to its fighters in order to prevent them from organizing. At any rate, it’s long overdue, and a commendable move by the promotion.