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What is the difference between professional, semi-professional and amateur sports persons and why does it matter for income protection insurance?


At Wiltshire Friendly, we specialise in providing income protection insurance for amateur, semi-professional and professional sports persons. But what is the difference between these three levels in sports? In this article, we are going to explore the similarities and differences between each category and delve into why this matters for income protection insurance.

What does ‘professional sports person’ mean?

For a sports person to be considered ‘professional’, they need to receive payment for their work. Professionals are usually full-time, meaning their wage is enough for them to live on and they do not require another job to subsidise their income. 

Professional sports persons can play in team sports - such as football and rugby - or individual sports such as cycling or horse riding. 

What does ‘semi-professional sports person’ mean?

A semi-professional sports person is slightly different than a professional one. While they do get paid for playing their sport, it’s either not as much or not as often as professionals. This means that semi-professional sports men and women usually seek full-time work elsewhere to supplement the money that they make in their sport. 

A semi-professional  is usually not playing at the same standard as a professional - they may be working their way up to being a full-time professional sports person, or easing back from previously being a professional.

What does ‘amateur sports person’ mean?

An amateur is an individual that participates in a sport for personal enjoyment, rather than to make money, so often as a hobby or to fulfil a passion

Amateur sports persons can also include coaches, referees and trainers that don’t get paid for their efforts.

What is the difference between the three sports person  categories?

As you can see, the main difference between amateur, semi-professional and professional sports is whether or not the person is paid, and how much. Another distinction can be the level that the individual plays at.

Why do these different definitions matter for income protection insurance?

As we have discussed in previous articles, income protection insurance is a long-term insurance policy that ensures you continue to receive a regular income if you are unable to work because of an injury or illness. While you will not receive your full monthly pay, income protection plans replace a proportion of the income lost.

Playing sports, especially contact sports such as football or rugby, increases the risk of injury and therefore the probability of you not being able to carry out your job and get paid. However, income protection insurance will cover you whether you received the injury whilst engaging in your sport or not. 

The differences between professional, semi-professional and amateur become important when deciding which plan you require. 

Playing amateur sports means that you would take out a standard individual plan which means you are insured for your day job, whether you are employed or self-employed. To acknowledge the extra risk that comes with playing amateur sports, a lot of plans - such as the ones provided by us here at Wiltshire Friendly - add in specific terms that apply to a sports-related injury. You can choose the amount of cover and the benefit terms to suit your requirements. 

Playing semi-professional sports might mean you want to insure either your day job, or your sports job, or both.

Playing professional sports, however, means that the income protection plan will be designed to fit in with the income protection benefits that you already have in your player contract. For professional sports, such as rugby, the duration of the plan is tailored to the retirement age. 

How do I buy sports income protection insurance?

Just like with standard policies, how much you pay for sports specific income protection insurance varies from place to place. Insurers can use a range of different criteria to decide on your monthly premiums. 

The type of sport you play, as well as the frequency of training and level that you play at can significantly affect your risk, making these factors extremely important in deciding the level of cover you purchase, and how much it will cost. 

As premiums can vary, it is well worth researching different plans to find one that suits you and your activity-level. The best way to ensure you purchase the correct plan for you is to get advice from a financial adviser who will take the time to understand your requirements, go through the different options, discuss various plans in detail and answer any questions you may have.

How Wiltshire Friendly can help

Here at Wiltshire Friendly, we have been working with individuals who play sports since 2011. We have built an understanding of sporting injuries that enables us to insure players at professional, semi-professional and amateur levels.

Whilst the main focus of our sports income protection insurance is on those who play football and rugby, we also have experience insuring a variety of different sports.

Regardless of whether you are playing the sport solely for enjoyment, or whether you get paid for your participation, Wiltshire Friendly can help you protect yourself against potential financial hardship caused through loss of income through injury or illness.

Contact us today to discuss your unique requirements and be put in touch with a financial adviser who will be able to advise you on a suitable plan for your needs.