The business of sports in South Africa continues to thrive, with growing numbers of ‘weekend warriors’ and professional athletes investing time and money into disciplines such as running, road cycling and mountain biking.
Insurer MiWayLife estimated that South Africa has around 200,000 cyclists, 750 000 runners and 15 000 triathletes – and it has developed a bespoke solution catering to needs of these healthy clients. A division of Sanlam, MiWayLife has introduced a unique policy especially for high-performing athletes aged 20-60, with up to R5-million in cover.
“We wanted to revolutionize the space and offer athletes something that was designed for athletes by fellow athletes - as opposed to being done via the traditional product factory,” said Craig Baker, CEO of MiWayLife.
“When you get people spending upwards of R35 000 to compete in a multi-day stage race like the Cape Epic, it makes sense to insure yourself against injury that could see you falling out at the last minute and losing your entrance fee. MiFitLife recognizes the hard work, long hours and sacrifices athletes make to get onto the start line.”
Growing numbers of companies – from fast food chains to banks and investment firms - are investing in sports sponsorships, with the view of gaining more emotional engagement with fans and staff. “What this means for professional athletes is increased pressure to remain healthy so they can perform at a high level. Some are even contracted to deliver podium positions, and an accident can put their livelihood at risk.”
MiFitLife covers most of the South African Long Distance triathlon team, including top triathlete Matt Trautman, whose cover kicked in after a vehicle hit him while training in the Cape Winelands. A complex spinal fusion and lengthy recovery put his hopes of defending his title at the Ironman 70.3 in East London in January, on hold.
Trautman, a professional triathlete since 2014, has had victories around the world. “Despite the rewards this lifestyle offers, you have to factor in the very real risks of our sport. Running and riding on the open road and pushing your body to new limits in training can have consequences that I know all too well,” he said. Trautman has been hit by vehicles on three separate occasions while cycling. Despite a fractured spine, broken clavicle and a fractured ankle, he has been more fortunate than some.
In April, veteran Italian cyclist Michele Scarponi, the 2011 Giro d’Italia champion, was killed in a road accident after being hit by a van while training close to his home.
“For most part of my triathlon career I struggled to find a company who offered what I needed, until MiFitLife was introduced by MiWayLife. Having this cover during 2017, when my most serious injury happened, has been instrumental in a long recovery process.”
Trautman said the relief of the financial burden as a result of missing most of his racing year allowed him to focus on rehabilitation and recovery. “I would highly recommend all athletes, from age group category to professional, take out this cover.”
The qualifying sports for MiFitLife include running, cycling, surfski paddling, swimming, canoeing and multisport (triathlon and duathlon).
Baker said the South African developed product was unique in the world. “The ability to obtain cover of this nature and extent without any medical underwriting or testing is an innovation in itself.”
The product is designed around the key risks facing athletes and addresses accident and illness cover with lump sum payouts, discounted insurance cover on sporting equipment, race fee refunds in the case of injury or illness preventing you from competing and specialized training programmes from MiWayLife coaches. SMS "FIT” to 44738 for an obligation free quote.
Eligibility, cover and benefits are determined on individual risk profile.
MiWayLife is an authorised FSP (No. 45741) and its product offering is underwritten by Sanlam Life Insurance Limited, a registered long-term insurer. MiWayLife is a division of Sanlam Life Insurance Limited – Reg No. 1998/021121/06