From Bruce Springsteen’s legendary voice to Taylor’s Swift’s legendary legs, when it comes to insuring their most valuable “assets,” it seems that celebrities are as cautious as the rest of us. The most recent example of a superstar looking for protection against unforeseen maladies is world-famous soccer player Christiano Ronaldo. It’s been reported that Mr. Ronaldo just purchased an insurance policy covering his cleat bearing, goal-scoring legs for an astonishing $144 million.
That of course, begs the question: Does a celebrity’s superstar status actually get them superstar protection from an insurance company? It turns out, not at all.
Take for example the story of former Carolina Panther’s defensive back Haruki Nakamura that was recently published in the New York Times. Mr. Nakamura’s career ended tragically in an August 2013 preseason game when he sustained a debilitating concussion. Months after his injury, he reported symptoms of severe headache, blurry vision and fatigue. After the Panthers released him, Mr. Nakamura filed a claim under a $1 million insurance policy he purchased from Lloyd’s of London. As proof of his disability, Mr. Nakamura provided Lloyd’s with medical reports from NFL doctors who determined that due to his post-concussion syndrome, he was totally and permanently disabled.
Nevertheless, Lloyd’s denied his claim. The grounds for Lloyd’s denial? Dr. Manish Fozdar, a doctor Lloyd’s hired, purported that Mr. Nakamura’s concussion was only “minor” and that his injuries could not “lead to the development of major depression.” Apparently, Dr. Fozdar has never heard of Dave Duerson, Adrian Robin or Junior Seau — all former NFL players who tragically committed suicide, likely as a result of football-related head trauma. As a result of Lloyd’s denial, Mr. Nakamura was left with no other option but to sue them in court.
Unfortunately, Mr. Nakamura’s situation is not unique. The manipulative claims handling exhibited by Lloyd’s of London is typical of insurance carriers. When an individual files a disability claim, insurers often turn to their so-called “medical consultants” or “doctors,” hired for the sole purpose of providing adverse medical opinions, to which they can justify a denial. Even more troubling is that these “hired gun” doctors will often provide their so-called “medical opinions” based solely on a paper review of medical records, without ever physically examining the disabled claimant.
Thus, whether you are a superstar, super athlete or just a super-fan, you should know that you are not alone if your insurance company treats you unfairly. For assistance, you should call an attorney with the knowledge, experience, and reputation for handling these types of cases.