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We are all familiar with “the big ones”, those motorsport accidents that have proved fatal for a competitor or have caused injuries serious enough to render the victim incapacitated for the rest of their life.

Just recently there seems to have been a spate of accidents where competitors have paid the ultimate price for being in a motorcar that has gone out of control, stopping finally against some immovable object. Peter Brock’s death in the recent Targa West event focused our attention on the risks we take every time we get into a competition car, and it doesn’t take much for our minds to rewind to other deaths that have happened previously – Michael Park, Possum Bourne, Rodger Freeth, and too many others.

For a while, we look at our own mortality and hope that we’re never put into a situation where the thought of death or serious injury face us. But then the excitement and the adrenaline rush of actually competing in a fast car blots out our fears and apprehension, and the thought of what could happen in competition passes by, safe in the knowledge that our entry fee includes compulsory CAMS Personal Accident Insurance.

But how long is it since you really thought about CAMS PA insurance, what it offers and what it’s worth to you in the event of death or injury? If, like most of us, you have never bothered to read Section 15-4 of the CAMS Manual, the section that deals with Personal Accident Insurance, then it’s high time that you did. What you will read should make you sit up and take notice very smartly. If you let your wife or partner read the relative section, then you might even find that your rally activities are seriously curtailed by your ‘other half.’ The simple fact is that the CAMS PA insurance cover for competitors can be considered a safety net only, and could leave you well out of pocket if you were unfortunate enough to be incapacitated for part of, or the rest of, your life.

The blunt facts are this – if a motorsport accident caused your death, your life would be worth a total of $65,000 to your next of kin. If you happen to be competing in historic events, for instance, and you’re in the 75 – 85 year age group, that payout falls to $25,000. CAMS will also pay you 100% of your funeral expenses up to a maximum of $5,000. These amounts are hardly generous, and no doubt CAMS could negotiate with their insurers for much greater coverage, provided competitors were prepared to pay (and we suggest most wouldn’t be) an extra premium to provide extra benefits. If greater insurance cover was provided by CAMS’ insurance policy, it stands to reason that the increased insurance would cost more to put in place, and it would therefore cause a flow-on effect, putting event permit fees up as a result.

However, if you were lucky enough to have avoided a fatal motorsport crash but unlucky enough to be seriously injured, then these figures mentioned above fail to stack up very well at all. The amount payable to an accident victim who is permanently and totally disabled is also $65,000, with a loss of income benefit applying for temporary total disablement being 85% of normal weekly earnings up to a maximum of $500 per week payable for up to 156 weeks. For non-income earners, those benefits reduce to $250 per week.

Then there are some additional benefits available on top of the permanent disability payment mentioned earlier, which includes up to $5,000 emergency transport benefits, the reimbursement of up to 100% of medical expenses of a maximum of $1,000, student tutorial expenses, personal and family counselling, and so on. Which all sounds great, but while these weekly benefits are more generous than those provided under many sports’ insurance programs, if you sit down and do your sums you’ll realize that many of your medical expenses for operations, hospital stays and on-going treatment are not covered at all.

Question – could you and your family live on $500 a week if you had to give up your job because of your injuries? What about your food and rent, house mortgage payments, rates, power and water, car registration and running expenses, house insurance premiums, birthday and other gift occasions, clothes, footware and all the other daily living expenses which we’re all familiar with? Would $500 cover all those? In a word – no. The figures look pretty gloomy, don’t they? Unfortunately it sometimes takes some negative words to get the message across and to shake people out of their lethargy.

So what’s the answer? The answer seems to be that regardless of who you are or whether you’re a driver or a navigator, an official or a photographer, you really should consider getting increased insurance cover over and above that provided by CAMS. As we said earlier, CAMS provide personal accident cover at a level that doesn’t make event entry fees excessively expensive because of the insurance component, but it could be more. If it were to raise the insurance amount, then many competitors would simply not be able to afford the costs. So that should then make you consider investigating taking additional cover through a private policy that might allow you to compete in motorsport events, but bear in mind that few policies do. It would be very difficult for individuals to ‘do their own thing’ to get such cover.

“It could never happen to me” is a typical response that is often heard from people who won’t or don’t want to face reality. Yet every time you hop into your competition car, you face the real prospect of something going wrong that could ultimately have a profound affect on your health and well-being. Remember that tree that was so close that it took your outside mirror off, that kerb you hit that nearly threw you into a tree, that flat tyre that made the car almost undriveable, that spin that nearly put you over the edge of a huge drop? Any of those could have resulted in death or injury.

The purpose of this article is not to stop you from competing in the sport that you love best, but to make you aware that your life will take a financial hiding if you have no other personal accident cover over and above the basic CAMS policy. Think about it, if not for your sake, but for the sake of your family.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that CAMS’ insurance brokers are currently pursuing the possibility for motorsport participants to individually increase the benefits payable under the standard cover.
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