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How can professional athletes achieve financial security when their careers suddenly and quickly take off?

How can professional athletes achieve financial security when their careers suddenly and quickly take off? © Cecilie_Arcurs via Getty

The lifestyle of an athlete can change in an instant. Whether that change occurs due to a first-round draft pick, a series-winning performance or a major championship, professional athletes often experience a significant increase in potential exposures veritably overnight.

In fact, the window of opportunity for the vast majority of athletes is a short one. According to recent statistics, the average career length of an athlete competing in one of the four major sports leagues in the United States is less than five years. So, it is crucial that athletes effectively protect their families and assets and ensure that they themselves are appropriately prepared for life during, and after, sports.

Professional athletes must therefore choose a broker with appropriate expertise and experience in the high net worth (HNW) marketplace. A qualified HNW broker can provide individualized education and advice, implementing a program to efficiently respond to the changing exposures in an athlete’s life.

Those exposures of course start with significant growth in income, which in turn results in new, high-value home purchases and a possible need for domestic employees. When legal exposures occur, Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI) helps protect against lawsuits brought by domestic employees for reasons such as wrongful termination or sexual harassment.

Then there is the exposure brought by fame, and notoriety in the community, which comes with its own set of difficulties. Public  figures today, for example, are increasing their visibility on social media, opening themselves up to theft and lawsuits. And while in many ways, this can be a valuable tool, it is imperative that an athlete use this platform in a responsible way. Limiting any information that is broadcast regarding his or her children, location and valuables, such as jewelry, wine collections or cars, is a vital requirement for mitigating potential losses.

The customized approach an HNW advisor can provide a professional athlete simply cannot be achieved in the standard market.

Next up is philanthropy: Many athletes will want to give back to the communities that support them by participating in charitable events and initiatives. However, this too can leave them exposed to lawsuits and  potential catastrophic financial loss, based on the actions of the charitable board or organization to which they belong.

In short, today’s stage for professional sports is truly global. Because athletes now regularly compete and vacation abroad, they’ve found it increasingly necessary to work with a broker who possesses the ability to effectively service not only a national but an international risk-management program. Typical coverages in an HNW contract can include equipment breakdown, deductible waivers for large losses, original equipment from a manufacturer and losses to one-off productions of artwork or furniture.

Yet securing the accompanying, necessary excess liability coverage, ranging in value from $3 million to $50 million, can be a challenge for many athletes. A broker, however, who has the right experience, unmatched relationships and direct access to the best carriers can help overcome this hurdle.

And that’s important, because the dynamic lifestyle and rapid rise in a professional athlete’s career mean that he or she will quickly outgrow an entry-level risk-management program. The proactive, customized approach and guidance an HNW advisor can provide simply cannot be achieved in the standard market.

Wealth Management

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