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Limo crash highlights insurance questions

October 5, 1997

PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) _ The accident involving Detroit Red Wings star Vladimir Konstantinov highlights the need for NHL players to carry disability insurance covering off-ice injuries.

The Oakland Press, citing an unidentified source, reported Sunday that Konstantinov did not have such insurance.

``This should be a wake-up call to every athlete that you need to have disability insurance, at least in an amount equal to the balance of your contract,″ said lawyer Scott Lites, who represents Detroit’s Vyacheslav Kozlov.

The NHL Players Association estimates more than 100 of the 650 players in the league lack disability insurance to protect them from off-ice injuries. former Livonia resident.

Konstantinov, 30, could have earned an estimated $15 million to $20 million by the end of his career. He has two years worth about $3 million left on his existing contract, the Pontiac newspaper reported.

The team has no legal obligation to cover the balance of the contract because the injury happened off the ice. However, after the $3 million, Konstantinov’s hockey wages are finished if he doesn’t come back. Given the nature of his head injury, a return is unlikely.

Konstantinov and team masseur Sergei Mnatsakanov remain in good condition at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, recovering from the July 13 limousine crash. The accident in suburban Birmingham happened six days after Detroit won its first Stanley Cup in 55 years.

Every year, the NHL union says, one or two players sustain career-ending injuries and do not have disability insurance.

Basil McRae, a former NHL player, works for Equis Financial in St. Louis, one of four companies the union recommends its players go to for disability insurance.

He estimates that a 20-year-old player would pay up to $5,000 a year for $1 million coverage. A 34-year-old would pay $15,000 for the same coverage.

``It amazes me how many guys don’t want to pay the premiums,″ he said.

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