Athletic injuries. They happen throughout sports, with some sports being more frequent than others. 

No athlete wants to think about the possible injuries they can incur playing the sport, and no parent wants to imagine a scenario where their kid gets seriously injured playing. 

Even worse than getting injured, is the potential bill for the injury. In the US healthcare system, a visit to the hospital can result in tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills. 

A bill of that size can result in higher premiums for insurance, or leave a high deductible for that bill that can leave a great financial burden. 

So, what some student-athletes and their families may ask is do colleges cover these injuries?

Find out how it works in this guide. 

Do Colleges Pay? 

Do colleges pay for athletes injuries? The answer is, it depends.

According to NCAA legislation, the injury must have taken place in the direct participation of a covered event. Under this legislation, a covered event is an NCAA-sanctioned competition and activities surrounding said competition. 

Activities that surround can include an official organized practice, conditioning session, an intercollegiate sports activity, team travel, and anything else that is authorized by the athletic department. 

Colleges are technically required to provide some sort of certification of insurance coverage to student-athletes plus prospective athletes that sign a National Letter of Intent to their school. However, there are ways around it, which we will get to later. 

But, to better understand when a sports injury is covered, let’s break this down. 

The obvious situation should be when an athlete gets hurt during a game. They are on the field, playing in a sanctioned event, and in front of a large crowd in some cases that paid to watch this game in person. 

Then, there are organized practices and conditioning sessions. So, if your coach makes the whole team come to a practice and you break your leg trying to run a play, then you would be covered. 

For conditioning, coaches usually require athletes to work out together at specific times. So, if you are working out with the team during that time and a weight falls on your foot and breaks it, then you would be covered. 

How Much Is Covered? 

The main requirement from the NCAA is that schools provide coverage for catastrophic injuries that result in medical bills exceeding $90,000. 

Unfortunately, because student-athletes do not work directly for the school, they do not usually get provided with full coverage for injuries and have to go under personal insurance (with their parents because of age). 

There is still a deductible of up to $90,000 that is left up to your personal insurance to cover, and schools are not required to provide insurance for that deductible. So, athletes and their families can be left with a huge deductible for college athlete injuries. 

So, let’s say that a tragedy occurs and an athlete ends up in a coma from a hit on the football field. In this scenario, they have a $500,000 hospital bill looming. 

In this situation, the school would be liable to cover $410,000 of that bill, with the family being left with the other $90,000 as a deductible to pay for said bill. 

It is something that families need to be aware of when weighing the risk of their child playing sports and choosing the proper personal insurance because the wrong move could potentially bankrupt them. 

What Situations Are Not Covered? 

Anything that happens outside of the legislation guidelines is not covered at all by the school. The main things covered are sanctioned events, practices, and conditioning sessions. 

So, if you wanted to have a private workout and you end up hurting yourself by dropping a weight, then you may not have coverage for your medical expenses. 

The same goes for practice. If you are doing drills on your own and end up with an injury, then the school may not cover this. 

Finally, if you are just playing a game with your friends that is not organized and you get hurt, the school would not be responsible for this. 

In these situations, it is important to remember that the NCAA legislation mainly covers organized events. So, if the coach is telling you to practice together or work out together, it helps protect you and your insurance in case you end up getting hurt. 

This can be especially devastating for a prospective athlete. An injury not covered by an organized practice not only takes their opportunity away but their potential acceptance into the school overall as well. 

What About Scholarships? 

Finally, there are scholarships for college athletes that come into play. A lot of athletes are on one-year scholarships that then get renewed the next year and so on. 

So, if you are an athlete that is on a scholarship and you get injured, your scholarship to the school may be in jeopardy. There are stipulations to this, however, such as an academic GPA. 

Usually, if a college maintains a certain GPA, then they are most likely able to retain their scholarship based on academics. However, if they do not have the required GPA and their injury results in no longer being able to play the sport on a high enough level, then they can lose the scholarship. 

So, there are more than just potential medical costs at stake for a lot of these athletes. Some risk their shot at getting a college degree altogether because without the scholarship, the college tuition may be too expensive to afford and a loan for the tuition may be out of reach. 

Prepare For Injuries

Unfortunately for student-athletes, injuries in sports are all too common. Some find out the hard way how much it could potentially cost them. 

Do not find out the hard way. Be prepared and know what you are getting into before you play. 

Read more of our Health and Business articles for even more insurance information.