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Details of Fantasy Football Insurance

Fantasy becomes reality – at least when insuring real players in fantasy football leagues

You can’t get away from fantasy football these days. The Internet is chock full of sites reviewing and ranking various players in all field positions. Player statistics are bandied around, and pundits proclaim the relative worth of different individuals at different positions. People spend hours devising the perfect roster for their fantasy team.

The Rules of the Game in Fantasy Football

To play, the first step is finding the right league and joining it. There are head-to-head leagues and total points leagues, and each has its plusses and minuses, although points leagues generally require less of a time commitment. Next comes drafting players, often through either a taking-turns method or by using imaginary budgets and bidding on players. Relying on sentimental favorites is not the thing to do here. Once a roster is set, there are opportunities to trade players. Every week, pick your starters. How they play in the real-life games determines how many points you receive in your fantasy league. Different fantasy leagues used various templates, and many are available online.

NFL.com claims that playing fantasy football makes every participant a football mogul because they can:

  • Select a team from the top NFL players
  • Choose a league
  • Design a starting lineup for every game
  • Act as both GM and coach for your fantasy team

With each weekly game, fantasy points are gained or lost according to a roster’s performance.

The History of Fantasy Football

Fantasy football likely started before you were born. Toyota (go corporate sponsorship!) provides a great infographic on the origins of fantasy football leagues. According to the document, the rules for present-day leagues came about in 1962 in a NYC hotel. A year later, on the other side of the continent, the GOPPPL, or Greater Oakland Professional Pigskin Prognosticators League, held its initial draft. It took another seven years, but by 1969, a public fantasy draft was held (in part due to the input of one of the original GOPPPL members). Five years later, women’s leagues emerged.

By 1999, Yahoo! offered a free online fantasy football draft. By September 2006, there were well over 10 million fantasy football players. Inevitably, in 2009, a television comedy series centered on fantasy football aired with the tag line “HWJC.”[1] Its title? The League.

Insuring an Alternate Reality

According to Forbes.com, about 32 million Americans participate in fantasy leagues at a cost nearing $500 per person. That amounts to about $15 million per year, and $11 million of that goes to fantasy football leagues. Beyond those numbers are the huge amounts of money generated through advertising. Forbes.com makes another good point: People participating in fantasy leagues spend a fair amount of their time doing it, roughly three hours each week, according to some stats. Multiply that by the sheer number of fantasizers, and a considerable work productivity hour deficit looms. Even major newspapers produce numerous stories, charts and other media at the outset of the fantasy football season, such as “Four players you must get in your fantasy football draft” or “Fantasy football: Drafting RB in first two rounds is a must.”

While employers are likely unhappy about lost work hours, participants look for ways to protect themselves against unforeseen circumstances in their fantasy season.

What Fantasy Football Insurance Covers

Some may question whether gambling should be insurable. However, when you get down to basics, isn’t insurance really about a gamble? Individuals choose to take out (or not take out) policies to insure coverage against bad events. Insurers take a chance of losing money every time they sign on a new customer.

Insuring a fantasy football team does not cost a great deal of money, unless the fantasizer invests a lot of money in the scheme. For the most part, they work on a percentage based upon the amount invested. Payouts from the policy occur when players’ injuries take them out for the rest of the season. This, of course, means that players with a long history of injuries may not be insurable.

Most policies work by insuring against a key player’s injury during the first 16 weeks of the season. The insurance kicks in when that player misses nine or more games in that period of the season. There are limits on the amount of insurance available to any individual. Insurance is not available to cover players already injured. Additionally, the price of insurance premiums may rise or fall depending on the players chosen because some are better “assets” than others. Claims are typically paid out after the season ends.

Behind the Scenes of Fantasy Football Insurance

Fantasy football insurance also means that there are actuaries whose actual job it is to work on fantasy football policies. Sounds like a dream job, although the majority of actuaries focus on other areas. However, read any actuarial forum on fantasy football, and you will see how much it is all about the numbers, from using different scoring systems (whole point vs. fractional points) and beyond.

Fox News reports that, beyond insurers getting in on the fantasy game, there are also attorneys who handle fantasy football disputes. For instance, one law professor charges a nominal fee to settle disputes on his online site. Most disagreements deal with matters such as fantasy leagues constitutions disputes and trading issues.

The Season’s End

With the culmination of each season, hearts broken by a team’s losing record mend, and many find solace in receiving compensation from their fantasy football insurance policies. Others just begin plotting dominance in next year’s league.


[1] “How Would Jesus Cheat”

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