Watching our fellow RTB’ers plow through the desert terrain of Ironman Arizona (including my business partner, Brett Purtzer) had the effect it always seems to have on me: it convinced me I was lazy and needed to get my sorry butt in shape. It also induced to get another race on the calendar. And since you can only tell your friends about “half-ironman” races so many times, I decided it needed to be my second full-length Ironman. In other words, I just signed up for Ironman Arizona and can’t wait to get cracking on a new PR.
During the registration process the usual question about race insurance came up. I usually assume that insurance policies offered during a checkout (extended warranties on appliances, flight/travel insurance, rental car insurance) are a scam. Oftentimes the deductibles are so high there’s no real benefit; sometimes you’re already covered through your credit card company; other times there’s a list of exclusions or other fine print that make it impossible to file a successful claim. I also always presume that filing a claim will take a lot of time with forms, paperwork, doctor’s notes and 1-800 numbers with their associated automated prompts and a lot of time on hold.
On the other hand, a lot can happen in a year leading up to an Ironman. Shelling out 800 bucks for a race that far out is a pretty big gamble considering the likelihood of injuries and other life disruptions that might make it impossible to train properly. So the question is, is race insurance worth it?
The Ironman webpage claims its insurance, through Allianz Global Assistance, “can reimburse up to 100% of your nonrefundable registration fees if a covered illness or injury prevents you from competing, your car breaks down within 48 hours of the event, or one of the many other covered reasons ruins your plans.”
Similarly, the Allianz Global website claims you will be covered if a loved one gets sick, is hospitalized or requires your care. The policy also claims to cover illnesses, injuries from car accidents, flight cancellations, household/business emergencies, employer termination, etc.
I don’t know about you, but before I buy anything online, I look for reviews. So I did a little poking around the internet to see if anyone had purchased race insurance and then filed a claim. On Slowtwitch, I found a thread from May 22, 2016 where several forum-members detailed their experiences with Ironman Insurance. The consensus seemed to be that the investment in the premium made sense for full Ironman distance races. Additionally, two contributors noted that they had suffered injuries while training for races and simply had their doctor sign a form and once the claim was submitted a full refund was received within a few weeks. One described the process as “painless” and the other stated “I got 100% of my race entry back, no problem at all.”
Of course, I did this research after getting signed up for Ironman Arizona and declining the insurance. However, it is still available. According to the Alliance page one has 14 days from the date of registering to sign up. Based on my research, it appears that Ironman Insurance is likely worth the money and can give you peace of mind. After all, it’s comforting to know that if the unexpected happens and you can’t race you won’t lose close to $1,000.