The insurance company that writes up to 40% of the permanent disability policies for pro football players has stopped issuing new policies because of a rash of career-ending injuries, a spokesman for State Mutual Life Assurance Co. of America said.
Steven Kurlansky, the company's director of group projects, cited the increased use of steroids and its impact on the size and weight of players as a key factor in the decision.
Edward Dipple, president of American Sports Underwriters of Woburn, Mass., said that State Mutuel provides permanent disability coverage for 150 to 200 NFL players. He estimated that 500 of the NFL's 1,600 players have coverage.
Doug Allen, assistant executive director of the NFL Players Assn., said that the union was concerned about a withdrawal by the insurance companies and that the resulting problem became the responsibility of the individual teams.
"Our approach, since we have no control over insurance companies, is to make sure the players are protected by the owners of the NFL," Allen said.