A-Fraudulent Insurance Claim

I can’t believe what I read this morning – three columns suggesting the Yankees may find an easy way out of 70-85% of Alex Rodriguez‘ remaining contract. All the Yankees need is a doctor to declare him physically unable to play anymore, which would kick in the Yankees’ insurance policy. Simple, right? Come on.

Here’s what the Bergen Record’s Bob Klapisch had to say:

Just wait and see, A-Rod will find a doctor to say he’s medically unable to keep playing, like Albert Belle, whose own career ended in 2000 because of hip problems. This convenient detour will allow A-Rod to pocket the rest of his money and give the Yankees 85 percent reimbursement from their insurers.

Dishonest or not, it would be the ultimate face-saver, and don’t think for a minute Yankee elders aren’t praying for this very road map. They’ve cursed themselves a hundred times over for that crazy contract, the one general manager Brian Cashman tried to block. Now, finally, there’s a way out.

Oh, the Yankees are essentially “praying” to get sued? Let’s be realistic here, no insurance company is going to say, “OK, we’ll pay $80M of the $114M remaining on Rodriguez’ deal even though there has been a steroid admission and additional allegations. No problem.” That would be asinine – especially with a steroid admission in the past, new allegations in the present, or even suspicions of shopping for an opinion.

It seems like CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman ignored the same concept:

The Yankees look at A-Rod, and see sunk costs. But if signing him to that record deal was far from their finest decision, the Yankees did have a moment of clarity at the time. Teams don’t insure a lot of position players but the Yankees wisely insured A-Rod’s record $275-million pact, and word is significant missed time could result in the Yankees recovering 80 percent of the bucks due A-Rod, provided the insurer doesn’t put up its own stink.

Retirement triggered by injury might not be the worst result for A-Rod or the Yankees. He could leave quietly (or as quietly as possible for him) and New York could pull off paying only one year out of five.

“Provided the insurer doesn’t put up its own stink” – yea, the insurance company won’t try anything.

Here’s what FOX Sport’s Ken Rosenthal wrote this morning:

The Yankees owe Rodriguez $114 million over the next five years, and heaven knows they would love to escape that contract. Perhaps the injuries will prevent Rodriguez from ever playing again, at which point the Yankees could collect insurance — at least 70 percent once he misses an entire season, sources say.

In theory, an insurance company could sue Rodriguez and/or the Yankees, contending that Rodriguez’s use of PEDs contributed to his physical breakdown. In reality, such a thing would be virtually impossible to prove.

At least he qualified his statement mentioning potential recovery for fraudulent claims. But, the idea that it would be difficult to prove isn’t necessarily true. Think about it this way: if doctors declared his injuries non-steroid related in 2009, and his surgeon this month stated the same, wouldn’t it be a bit suspicious if some other expert opined that Rodriguez should call it quits, or declare the injuries steroid related?

In fact, if proven that these injuries have been PED related, the insurance payments would be blatant false claims. It’s impossible to be insured for a breakdown due to the use of illegal substances. Hip injuries, such as the one A-Rod had back in 2009, are often linked to steroid use:

[Back in 2009] Such questions arose because cysts in muscle are a common side-effect of intramuscular steroid injections, as is avascular necrosis (loss of blood supply to the bone) from use of the drugs themselves.

From that same story, doctors did claim the Rodriguez injury was unrelated to PEDs. But again, that’s not going to prevent the insurer from pursuing some sort of settlement. A doctor recommending A-Rod no longer player due to medical issues, after multiple doctors have stated he will be able to continue his career, would immediately raise the opinion hunting red flag with the insurer. Plus, the fact that Rodriguez has already been linked to performance enhancers on numerous occasions gives the insurer another reason to litigate. Not to mention the fact that no insurance company in its right mind isn’t simply going to dole out $80M when there are suspicions to the legitimacy of an claim.

Don’t believe everything you read from these columns. While these writers are well respected, and often times do good work, it’s a bit naïve to write that the Yankees could easily wiggle out of the majority of Rodriguez’ contract. The complications and intricacies  must be considered.

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2 Responses to A-Fraudulent Insurance Claim

  1. Steve Albin says:

    The baseball owners have always been some of the most moronic entrepreneurs to be found. We can stipulate that steroid use is not good and something needs to be done, but for the Yankee owners to try and use this to dump Rodriguez is ludicrous. Are they trying to say that didn’t know this was going on? Like all the other owners that claim to “shocked” about the steroid use? The only thing that can come from litigating this is to denigrate the very product they are trying to sell.

    It reminds me of the beginning of free agency when owners were falling over themselves trying to sign stars for big bucks while at the same time grousing that the players weren’t worth the money. So let’s see – you want me to pay to see these guys play, but you admit the product is inferior?

  2. Derek says:

    Here’s a recommended article to read to follow up what I wrote:

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-01-31/rodriguez-drug-case-may-blunt-potential-yankees-insurance-claim.html

    Basically explains that if proven that A-Rod took PEDs under time covered by insurance policy, the policy is void. More evidence is still necessary, of course, but the insurance policy option certainly looks bleak.

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