Jockeys' Guild Calls for $1 Million Policies

It says at least 10 tracks are not offering enough catastrophic injury insurance.

Citing the paralyzing injuries suffered by a rider in a recent Quarter Horse race at Turf Paradise, the Jockeys' Guild is calling on all tracks to put in place $1 million in catastrophic injury coverage.

Anne Von Rosen suffered serious a serious spinal injury that left her with paralysis after a March 11 race at the Phoeniz, Ariz. track. The Guild said the $500,000 catastrophic injury policy carried by the track will not be enough.

"It is clear that (Von Rosen) faces a long process of medical treatments and rehabilitation," the Guild said in a release. "We also know, from past experiences, the costs of her medical treatment and rehabilitation will exceed the $500,000 medical coverage provided by the on-track accident policy."

The Guild said it knows of 10 other tracks in the U.S. that carry $500,000 policies. It plans to call all tracks that do not carry at least $1 million policies to insist on that level of on-track injury insurance. 

"It is fundamentally unfair to ask riders to risk death or paralysis without keeping in place adequate on-track insurance to deal with the actual costs of their injuries and rehabilitation," said Guild national manager Terry Meyocks in a release. "All race tracks that only have $500,000 on-track coverage must raise their on-track insurance to equal at least $1 million dollars. Furthermore, we call on the industry to study whether the $1 million on-track policies are even adequate for today's medical costs."

The Guild points to recent catastrophic injuries suffered by Jacky Martin and Tad Leggett to illustrate that a $500,000 on-track accident policy is inadequate. Martin was injured Sept. 2, 2011 at Ruidoso Downs and he has needed continued fundraising efforts to assist with his on-going medical expenses. The Guild noted, and said it appreciated, that Ruidoso Downs has since increased its coverage to $1 million.

Leggett was injured July 30, 2010 at Fair Meadows at Tulsa. The Guild said funding from the insurance was exhausted before he was even able to complete his rehabilitation and he was forced to do his own rehabilitation at home. 

The Guild said jockeys who ride at tracks in New York, New Jersey, Maryland, California, and Idaho are covered by worker's compensation when they sustain on-track injuries but other injured riders must rely upon the accident policies provided by the racetracks at which they are riding. 

In order to help jockeys when they are unable to ride as a result of injuries, the Guild provides its members with an accidental death and dismemberment benefit. This benefit is in addition to weekly temporary disability payments for two years.

The Guild also provides qualifying permanently disabled jockeys with supplemental reimbursements and a life insurance policy. Qualifying permanently disabled riders, Guild and Non-Guild members, also may be eligible for benefits from the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund, which the Guild, along with others, was instrumental in establishing.  

"While the Guild assists its disabled and permanently disabled riders, that assistance is no substitute for adequate on-track insurance to pay for the medical and rehabilitation that jockeys today face," Meyocks said in the release. "Our industry's old fashioned response of holding a fundraiser or a bake sale, however well-intentioned and meaningful as a show of personal support for an injured rider, should be in addition to, and not a substitute for at least $1 million in on-track insurance coverage."