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Jockeys benefit from improved health cover


When the horse racing industry came under fire in 2005 over concerns about the adequacy of insurance coverage for jockeys, Harrah's Entertainment Inc. decided to improve the insurance it provides for jockeys at one of the company's facilities.

The issue arose when a jockey paralyzed in a 2004 accident in West Virginia testified before a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee about how a guild insurance program failed to pay all his medical bills. The racing industry weathered the storm, but it faced media scrutiny for not providing adequate care for its jockeys, who are private contractors.

To head off any problems for Harrah's Louisiana Downs Casino & Racetrack, Harrah's increased its limits from $100,000 to $1 million per incident under an accidental death and dismemberment policy it buys for jockeys racing at the Bossier City, La., facility, said Marc Kamler, manager of insurance and risk services for Harrah's.

The coverage provides first-dollar medical and indemnity coverage for the jockeys, Mr. Kamler said.

Because the jockeys are private contractors, Harrah's cannot purchase workers compensation insurance for them, but the AD&D policy takes the place of workers comp, Mr. Kamler said.

Government pressure led racetracks across the United States to increase the AD&D coverage limits purchased for jockeys, sources said.

Purchasing the additional coverage costs a little more, but providing the coverage fits with Harrah's policy to "do the right thing," said Lance J. Ewing, Harrah's vp of risk management.

"Harrah's is a company where doing the right thing is our chief executive officer's mantra for both our guests and contractors," Mr. Ewing said. "No one said, 'Thou shall do this"; we just felt that was a good comfort level and it was doing the right thing."