Friday, August 21, 2009

fantasy sports insurance gets pimped in the wall street journal

A New Kind of Pocket Protection
Just because your fantasy team's quarterback is broken doesn't mean your hope for a payout has to be, thanks to fantasy sports insurance


Fantasy sports aficionados already can claim to know how it feels to run a team as an imaginary coach or general manager.

But in the neverending push for fantasy sports to simulate every minute detail of the actual competition, two Long Island insurance brokers have developed a way for the fantasy owner to experience the bittersweet taste of an insurance payout when their superstar goes down with a season-ending injury.

That's right. Pro teams have hedged against their largest contracts with insurance for years. Now owners of fake teams can now protect themselves against the injuries of real players with actual insurance policies.

Tom Brady‘s Week One knee injury wreaked havoc on countless fantasy teams last season.
Fantasy Sports Insurance, or FSI, is the brainchild of Anthony Giaccone and Henry Olszewski, two brokers at Long Island's Intermarket Insurance Agency, Inc. It is one of the most forehead-slappingly obvious innovations that the world of fantasy sports has seen since live scoring. FSI offers the fantasy owner the ability to recoup league fees and all other related costs if one of their star players falls to an injury and misses the bulk of the season. FSI only offers football insurance for now, but its executives hope to expand soon to baseball, basketball and hockey.

The idea started when a frustrated Mr. Olszewski made an off-the-cuff comment at the office the day after New England quarterback Tom Brady was pronounced lost for the 2008 season. Mr. Brady was on his fantasy team, which now seemed to be in shambles thanks to one twist of one knee in the first week of the season.

"Henry came in and asked, 'How come nobody offers disability insurance for fantasy owners?'" Mr. Giaccone says. The two men, who had known each other for six years and worked together for just over two, researched the landscape of fantasy sports and found that no form of fantasy player protection existed. FSI was born.

The two brokers first went about getting underwriters. They found A-rated carriers (the second-highest rating an insurance carrier can get) at Lloyd's of London. Then they compiled a list — using various fantasy sites, experts, and rankings — of the top 50 fantasy players in the NFL. These 50 players comprise the marquee group eligible for insurance claims. If any of them were to suffer a season-ending injury, in FSI's opinion, it could represent a Brady-level catastrophe for a fantasy team.

The idea of FSI is laughably simple, even for someone whose only experience with insurance is sliding a $5 chip to the blackjack dealer when he's showing an ace. After drafting his team, a fantasy owner goes to, whose homepage rotates a series of stomach-turning photos of athletes, including Mr. Brady, writhing on the floor in pain.

FSI offers three options for the nervous fantasy owner to protect his investment:

1. A player misses 10 of the first 15 games due to injury

2. A player misses eight of the first 12 games due to injury

3. Three players miss a combined 18 of the first 15 games due to injury.

Before the first weekend of the NFL season, the fantasy owner selects the player he wishes to insure — let's say it's his top pick, Peyton Manning of Indianapolis. He then enters his league entry fee ($250 for this scenario, though FSI offers claims up to $1,000), transaction fees ($0), and money spent on additional expenses, like magazines and online subscriptions ($15).

FSI then determines the cost of the policy based on those numbers, with every top-50 player — from the chronically-injured Steven Jackson of the St. Louis Rams to the Atlanta Falcons' relatively sturdy Michael Turner. In this case, insuring Mr. Manning for a 15-game fantasy season would cost $29.87. For just under $30, an owner who loses Mr. Manning to injury for 10 of his 15 fantasy games would recoup the entire $265 he spent on his fantasy team from FSI. And he could still replace the star quarterback with a waiver-wire pickup and salvage the season anyway. Mr. Olszewski, for example, replaced Mr. Brady with Matt Cassell and finished fourth in his league.

It may sound macabre to profit from injury, but at least one NFL player gives it his thumbs up.

Jacksonville running back Maurice Jones-Drew has played fantasy football for the last two of his four pro seasons. He has no problem with a man he has never met "owning" him on a fantasy team, or that someone may buy insurance on him in case of injury. In fact, Mr. Jones-Drew seems a little envious of two insurance brokers in Long Island.

"Man," he says, "I wish I would have thought of that."

Click here for the full article from the Wall Street Journal...

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