Contrary to what you might...
Contrary to what you might have been told, your pit pass is not an insurance policy. Some good advice is to read everything closely before you sign it.
Editor's Note: Sleepy Gomez is not an attorney, nor is he an industry expert on racing insurance coverage. However, he has been a racer for the past half-century. The purpose of this article is to acquaint racers with points that need to be examined before the car ever hits the racetrack.
I have said for many years that racers are dumb. Of course, that is not a true statement. There are many smart racers. Too often, however, there are too few racers who are smart about their insurance coverage. Unfortunately, given today's legal climate, even the smart racer has a difficult time getting answers.
Any racer who thinks about insurance at the track supposes the track has insurance. This is not always the case. In many states there is no law requiring a track to even have insurance. Only a few states do have that requirement. Other states leave that decision up to the track operator. He can choose, and I have known of a few, to carry no insurance at all if he wishes. One such operator said he leased the track year to year and that everything he "owned" was in someone else's name. "So sue me," was his response. A lot of "dumb" racers competed at that track for several years. Sadly, there are other tracks doing the same thing.
Rick Hefner of the International Motor Contest Association (IMCA) said insurance policies were often posted on track bulletin boards. Meaning no disrespect, I asked him what planet he lived on. We had a good laugh. Granted, I don't travel that much, but I have never seen a policy posted for all to see at the track. I think it should be. On the other hand, maybe I didn't pay enough attention! Hefner said that IMCA's coverage is in its rule book, and each driver is given a card with K&K Insurance's phone number and contact information on it. Most of the other major sanctioning organizations do something similar.
Dig deep I have often asked track operators about their policies. Many evade such questions, referring them to someone else. Others profess ignorance. Roger Archer, the promoter at 85 Speedway in Ennis, Texas, has always been forthright and open when asked about his insurance program. Over the years I have learned a lot about the "other side" of racing from him. Archer told me the name of his insurance carrier and the amount of coverage he has. Beyond that, he said I would need to talk to the insurance agent. However, that is really all the information a racer needs from a track operator, but a smart racer always verifiesthe information with the insurance agent.
With the above information in hand, a racer should contact the insurance agent or company to learn about the coverage he can likely expect should an accident happen. This is racing: accidents happen. Remember, there are various types of coverages, and insurance is likely to be weighted to protect the track operator from liability, not the racer. This could have significant meaning to you in the future.
As for those promoters referenced earlier in this story, the ones who would rather refer me to someone else or profess ignorance, I am skeptical about their coverage. This has led me, on occasion, to call K&K Insurance, Rand, North American, or other companies in search of information. The companies or agents are often hesitant to say anything specific about a customer's coverage. In the past, callers have misrepresented themselves and their positions to gain access to proprietary information, and that causes problems. As such, the hesitation is understandable, but a racer should be able to get basic information. If this happens, ask the track operator to call the company and verify your need to talk to them. When a track operator won't answer questions about his insurance coverage and then the agent does the same, I am uncomfortable. What can be done? I race a different track.