Calif. Thoroughbred Trainers Form Own WC Captive

November 20, 2002

The California Thoroughbred Trainers have finalized a plan with American International Group (AIG) to form a captive that will provide their some 800 members with an affordable workers’ comp program.

The captive, to be named the Thoroughbred Racing Safety Alliance, will insure approximately five to seven hundred racing stables in California, according to John Unick, vice president and national sales manager of Maroevich, O’Shea and Coghlan.

Unick brokered the deal after several meetings with Jim Ghidella of the Thoroughbred Owners of California on how to ease the workers’ comp crisis in the world of horseracing. Maroevich, O’Shea and Coghlan secured the deal after several other brokerage firms were approached, but unable to produce a viable and bindable quote.

“I’ve been solidly working with the industry on this for about two years,” Unick said. “It’s already an expensive sport; this is by far their biggest operating expense, workers’ compensation insurance.

“[Rates have] pretty much doubled in the last year,” he continued. “They’re paying as high as $50 base rates per hundred. Jockeys are the employees of racing stables for the purpose of the race only, so technically, if there are ten races in a day, a jockey could work for ten different racing stables in that one day. As soon as the gate’s open, the trainer is responsible for that jockey’s workers’ compensation just for the purpose of that one race. Right now, that base rate with the State Fund is about $110 per mount.”

Unick estimates premium volume to start at $4 to $6 million on a pro-rated basis, with the policy’s expiration date on July 1, 2003. “The estimated amount for the whole pool would be between $13 and $17 million,” he said.

“I think the industry should be applauded for finally banning together to try to mitigate their losses and look long term at the insurance as far as trying to control their costs,” Unick added.

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