Top-flight rugby club Saracens are having to cope with the game's new professional status. Paddy Gourlay talks to administration manger Muke Scott about how they met insurance requirements.
When rugby union turned professional five years ago, Saracens had little trouble finding a broker willing to arrange their insurance.
As one of England's top flight clubs in a game still dominated by public school old boys, it was highly likely that a club stalwart would also be a leading light in Lloyd's of London, once the old boys' club of insurance.
Morgan Read and Sharman broker Andrew Edwards who plays back-row for one of the club's amateur teams stepped in to do the deal.
It is testimony to the package he broked for Saracens that the Lloyd's broker is still holding the account today.
Saracens were approached by five other brokers last year. But team administration manager Mike Scott says: "We know the insurance packages of some of our rivals and to be honest, I do not think they are as good in cover provided or value for money."
Saracens has a host of international stars in its 26-strong full-time squad, and many of them were in action during the recent World Cup.
But when their wing and England player Dan Luger limped off in the quarter final against Fiji, Saracen's insurers had little to worry about.
Players injured playing for their country or games for other teams, such as the Barbarians, are covered under that team's group policy.
Luger turned out to be fit and well, but the scenario did occur when the club's scrum half Kyran Bracken damaged his back playing an international against Australia two years ago.
It left him out of action for more than four consecutive games, triggering Saracens' temporary disablement cover for which England paid.
The club's temporary disablement cover lasts from 18 to 26 weeks), which means the long-term injured have to buy their own extra cover.
So far, Saracen's has only had one long-term injury case, lasting 30 weeks, but which the insurer paid for anyway.
But, surprisingly for such a physically hard contact sport, the club's medical expenses insurance kicks in as much off the pitch as on it.
This week, Irish International and Saracen wing Darragh O'Mahony had toothache, and there has been a bout of flu at the club, which sends shivers through the boardroom alone.
"It is a bit like a school," explains Scott.
"If one of the kids get flu, then it will usually spread like wildfire around the rest of the class.
"Players here are in close contact all the time, and flu can wipe out half the team."
Obviously, each player undergoes a rigorous medical examination before the insurer calculates the group policy.
It was a new ball game for the club when rugby first became professional and the insurance has changed over the last five years to reflect this.
Medical expenses cover has become more comprehensive while the temporary and permanent disablement cover has diminished. "The game is more physical than in the amateur days, but fitness has improved so the level of serious injuries has not been as great as we anticipated," Scott says.
Rates have risen, but the club now has fewer players, 26 full-time and ten 18 to 20-year-old part-timers, which has helped reduce the premium.
Saracens is currently leading the first division and will compete in all the cups, including Europe.
Again there is an insurance policy in case they emulate treble-winning Manchester United last season, and have to pay out on massive bonuses.
Not only would this cause an immediate dent in owner Nigel Wray's pocket, but the club would also surpass the salary cap of £1.8m.
"The same restriction is why Saracens could not sign Jonah Lomu" says Scott of the giant All-Black wing who is seeking half a million pounds a year from an English club.