Bob Ewell is a veteran Sprint...
Bob Ewell is a veteran Sprint car racer and feature winner all over the Midwest and Southeast. Ewell has worked in the insurance industry for years. He knows reading and understanding the Release of Liability form as well as the track's insurance coverage is important.
Secondary Insurance Secondary insurance is just that. It pays second. If you have insurance through your employer or have a personal policy covering your medical needs, your policy will be made to pay first. Many people have this kind of coverage at their place of employment. For many employed in their own small business or those who work for a company not offering medical coverage, the secondary policy will pay first. Be aware that some secondary policies have large ($5,000) deductibles.
Most of the major sanctioning bodies offer insurance as part of the membership package. IMCA, for instance, maintains among other coverages a secondary insurance policy on its members. An IMCA member is only covered at an IMCA-sanctioned track. If that member should choose to go to a non-sanctioned track, he would not be covered by IMCA's insurance. Your organization may have similar coverage.
In all of my study of racing insurance, I haven't seen any problems with an insurance policy paying what its policy said it would for a racing accident.
There are also those situations where there was not enough coverage to cover a racer's injuries. All policies have limits. Remember the operator with a lot of insurance on himself but little on the racer? This can bring out the lawyers in a hurry. The deductibles (from $500 to $5,000) can sometimes take one by surprise.
Another factor that can affect insurance coverage is the form we all sign and pay little attention to when entering a track. It is often called a "Release of Liability." This won't let someone duck out of being liable for your misfortune. This form is an acknowledgment that you are entering a restricted area (the pits) and that you understand this can be a dangerous place (you are exposed to high-speed racing cars, among other things). Some of these forms can be different. Ask for a copy to take home and read. It can be interpreted several ways, but if it causes you a problem it will take several lawyers to figure it out.
The bottom line is this: Ask questions and get answers. If you think "it won't ever happen to you," give this magazine to a caring member of your family.
What You Should Do
When you arrive at the track, especially if it's a track you've never raced before, you need to do a little spadework while the crew unloads the car. As a driver, you are responsible for your own safety, to a point. The track operator is-or should be-responsible for the safety of all.
When you get into the pit area, it is a good idea to take a look at specific areas. First, inspect the racing surface. If it's a dirt track and there's a hole large enough to park your hauler in the first turn, you might want to ask if it can be fixed before someone catches a wheel and goes through the barbed-wire fence on the outside of Turn 1.
Likewise, take a careful look at the safety equipment and personnel. You really don't want to be in a position to have to count on the safety crew if you don't understand what equipment they have and how they use it.
After completing your walk-around, make sure your supplemental insurance is at least as good as the conditions you're racing under. That's the bottom line when it comes to making decisions on whether or not to race at a particular track. If the minuses in what you've seen outweigh the positives, it might be a good idea to sit out until conditions improve. It takes a brave racer to walk away from what he considers unsafe conditions and not race.