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Premiums spike arena league soccer team

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A Major Arena Soccer League team in New York announced Monday that after four seasons they can no longer afford to play in the league because workers compensation premiums for the team are no longer affordable, according to the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.

Last fall, the New York State Insurance Fund informed Salvatore “Soccer Sam” Fantauzzo, team president, CEO and founder of the Rochester Lancers, that their $20,000-per-year policy was increasing, and the new rate, according to Mr. Fantauzzo, would be $200,000. Last week, they learned their new rate would be $277,000.

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The Rochester Rhinos also noticed their premiums were increasing from about $90,000 a year to the $200,000 range within the past six months, Rob Clark, team owner and CEO told the newspaper.

Premiums are based on industry type — New York classifies soccer as a noncontact sport — and other items such as claim history. In addition to covering medical costs, the insurance fund also covers disability or indemnity payments, the Democrat and Chronicle reported.

However, in a letter to the league, Mr. Fantauzzo asserted the system was broken as disability payments had been paid to players who in some cases were still actively competing. The state neither informed the Lancers of those claims nor fought the awards, he said.

An insurance fund spokeswoman told the Democrat and Chronicle that she was not allowed to publicly discuss an individual policyholder's case. Generally, she said, notice should go to an employer, and they would be represented by the fund at any hearing.

The spokeswoman said she was unaware of a statewide increase in premiums for sports teams.

Mr. Clark said the Rhinos have used other insurance companies, but for the past two or three years the state fund has been “the only act in town, so everyone has to use them.”

“We lose money ... every year,” Mr. Clark said, adding that insurance premiums are among the team's top five expenses.