The Lafayette Wildcatters, a minor league indoor football team in Louisiana, have announced that they are scrapping their 2011 season because Workers Compensation insurance isn't available at an affordable cost.
I don't know any more about the situation than what is being reported in the press, but it does make me wonder if there was some behind-the-scenes tussling between the Wildcatters and the insurer that serves as Louisiana's insurer of last resort, the Louisiana Workers Compensation Corporation, or LWCC.
I've had a little experience reviewing premium audits done by LWCC, and based on those cases I think LWCC can be a bit aggressive in how they calculate premiums. In one case from a year or so ago, they had ratcheted up premiums by about a million dollars for a client, premium increases that were based on a fundamental mis-reading of manual rules and how they applied to this client. So, without being unfair to LWCC, it strikes me that it might well be that something similar has happened to the Wildcatters.
Of course, it isn't just LWCC that sometimes hammers sports teams over Workers Comp. A couple of years ago, I was able to help the San Francisco 49ers in a very large Workers Comp premium dispute. Although I was able to produce a very beneficial result for them, the details of the matter are covered by a confidentiality agreement that prevent me from providing any details. But the insurance company wasn't LWCC, it was a large national insurer.
It's surprising to some folks that professional athletic teams would have to tussle with Workers Comp costs just like any other business, but state laws are pretty clear in most jurisdictions--just about any business enterprise is responsible for Workers Compensation for its workers. And football players who play for money are not just athletes, they're also employees.