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photo: Gerow

A novel insurance offering launches today to cover medical expenses — up to $20,000 out-of-pocket — related to mountain biking and other injuries. Spot is available in 17 US states where coverage is priced at $20 per month (except in Texas, where it’s $35 a month). I spoke with CEO Matt Randall back in June to learn who this insurance is for, and how the program works.

In 2018, about 27.5 million Americans (about 8.5%) were not covered by health insurance at any point during the year. And for the hundreds of millions of Americans who did have insurance coverage, individual deductibles are estimated to average nearly $1,500. For those without insurance or with a high deductible, a relatively minor mountain biking injury like a broken finger could easily cost $1,000 or more out of pocket.

“We want Spot to motivate people to go out there and go big,” Randall told me.

He says medical expenses are the number one reason people go bankrupt in the USA today, a sobering thought that can easily harsh even the best ride. One of Randall’s motivations for starting Spot with his business partner, Maria Miller, a former executive at NY Life, came from an injury he suffered while riding in Moab.

Similar to the search and rescue coverage included in hunting and fishing licenses issued in many states, Spot is designed to supplement any insurance a rider might already have, up to $20,000 for accidental injuries and $50,000 for accidental death and dismemberment. Plans are offered month-to-month with no long term contract.

The plan is said to be backed by some of the world’s largest insurance companies. However, unlike actual health insurance, it doesn’t cover illness, self-inflicted injury, or things like maternity care.

How it works

Riders subscribe to the plan on a monthly basis, and the out-of-pocket cost of any doctor-recommended and administered medical treatment related to an injury (whether it’s mountain biking or falling down the stairs) will be reimbursed, up to $20,000. For example, if a rider with health insurance breaks an arm and has to pay their $1,500 deductible on a $4,000 bill, Spot picks up the $1,500 deductible. If someone without health insurance suffers the same injury, Spot pays the full $4,000.

The plan is designed to cover injuries that happen anywhere, though the service is only available to residents of select states (see the Spot website for the full list).

At launch, Spot has enlisted a roster of sponsored ambassadors for the service, including mountain biker and videographer Joey Schusler. I asked Randall if he thought having coverage might encourage riders to take more risks than without. He acknowledged that it is definitely “a plan that encourages people to take risks.”

What do you think: Is this a product you might find helpful, and why or why not?

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# Comments

  • Jadama

    As a german this sounds absolutely ridiculous to me. We have health insurance as a mandatory thing for everybody. They charge roughly 14% of your income and cover everything. From a broken bone to multi million dollar brain surgeries and following treatments, medicine, recovery sport. They even pay modifications to your house if you have permanent issues. If you don’t have any income or your income is below a certain level insurance is free. I can’t imagine how life must feel without this safety

    • Brian Gerow

      Jadama,
      Agreed. Having lived in the U.S., and now in Italy where healthcare is almost 100% covered by taxes, I feel far more comfortable with the mandatory coverage here. I can now get hurt or sick and still afford groceries for the next few years. In the U.S. none of my jobs paid enough to afford even basic health care for myself nor my family, and a trip to the hospital would have been paid off over 5-10 years. The healthcare and insurance “system” in the states is quite an elaborate graft.

      This Spot program seems like a thoughtful Bandaid for some massive gaps in that system, until the government conducts a full overhaul wherein low-income families’ needs and realities are truly considered.

    • Billy Robbins

      I would throw up if I had to pay 14% of my income for health insurance or even 5%. Being in the US, I’m only responsible for my $20 doctor copay or $100 ER copay. Regardless, let’s keep the nationalism down and appreciate what this company is doing for those who don’t have a national healthcare system like yours. This $20 can seriously curve someones comfortably level when getting shreddy on the trails or traveling abroad to other countries that also don’t have national healthcare systems.

    • Jeff Barber

      Wait Billy, how do you only have a $20 copay and 0% of your income goes toward health insurance? I need to get on that plan! As someone who is self-employed, health insurance for a family of 4 easily sucks up 10% of my income. And that’s with a multi-thousand-dollar deductible, the most basic plan available.

      Update: Just did some research and found the average American family spends 10.1% of income on health insurance premiums alone. (This doesn’t count the additional out-of-pocket expenses like co-pays, deductibles, or non-covered expenses.)

    • coleam

      @Billy In your case, your employer is paying for your insurance, which is money that they could be paying you. I have a similar plan – I pay around $100/month towards my premiums, the rest is covered by work, my deductibles are pretty low – and the amount that my employer pays for my insurance comes to around 20% of my gross pay.

  • Revengel

    I think this is (potentially) great! For context, I live in the US and have mediocre health insurance. I’ll leave the politics to other folks.

    Here’s what this could mean for me. I honestly think about injuries and deductibles (straight up owie!) before trying to progress. I wear so many pads at this point I look like the Michelin Man: Helmet, Safety Glasses, Elbow pads, Knee Pads and my soccer shin guards. Oh, and this is just riding Green Singletrack.

    At 20 bucks a month, I personally could afford to do this for peace of mind. When you have a deductible of <$500on some items, $20/mo. is a great option. And the fact it's month to month means if you stop riding for a while (say, during the winter months) you have that flexibility.

    I'm a bit sad it's not (yet) available in my state, but I like the idea.

    • Revengel

      Meant to say Greater than $500 deductible . . . there are a few I have in the $1500 range.

  • tulausa1

    I’m presently living the healthcare nightmare
    Aug 4th I broke my arm whilst mtn biking
    Acute nondisplaced fracture of the upper femur neck
    Ended up emergency room for an overnight stay. Xrays were taken . And a sling was issued. Dinner and breakfast. 2 saline drips
    2 shots of morphine and a few visits from orthopedic surgeon and dr. On duty
    I have a short term plan
    I pay $187.00/ month . I simply cannot afford the $800. To $1200 / month for full health care plan . Adult Male 59 years old

    To date my bill is over $18,000 and counting
    The healthcare plan covered $400,00
    So , not only am I being ripped off by the er/ doctors / hospital/caregivers/. I’m being ripped off by my health plan too
    This is for an overnight stay .
    The irony of it all is that I stay fit and healthy by exercising 5 days a week and I have no so called preexisting conditions And yet a bike accident can wipe out your savings in an instant
    I would gladly pay $20./ month to cover my accidental mountain biking mishaps. Jeez I would even triple that and still be smiling
    Btw just booked white rim trail in a month time . Arm should have healed enough by then . I Need insurance he he

  • jgmtb

    In the current marketplace of US healthcare, such an insurance definitely has its place. Yes, I think that it is unfortunate that in a country like America (rich, innovative) this is the case, but oh well. As for encouraging people to take risks, for sure this seems strange, but it’s more of a marketing ploy for sure. They need to expand their base in order to have any sort of risk-pooling. Getting people to chip in 20 bucks a month for the piece of mind to take that A-line, and creating a pool of capital to cover fellow riders’ coverage seems like a pretty reasonable business model.
    However, this really shouldn’t be used as a standalone insurance, as 20K isn’t that much.
    Just a short footnote: I’m a US expat having lived in and shredded in Germany and Italy, which actually have different healthcare systems (privately-administered public fund, and single-payer). I’ve been treated for a number of injuries and illnesses (mtb-related and otherwise), with little or no copay and a really high level of professionalism and service. Just wanted to add this quick anecdote, people I always hear questionable second-hand accounts horror stories of such systems being terrible and / or inefficient. Of course, no system is perfect, but some do work- no one in these countries worries about paying for their medical bills.

  • Phonebem

    This reminds me, does anyone know of anyone offering any personal liability insurance for mountain biking? Before anyone chimes in, I use a passive bell, always try to ride within my limits, and watch for oncoming traffic but sometimes sh—-tuff happens and someone gets hurt. In our litigious society, I’d hate to be wiped-out because I encountered someone at the perfectly wrong place ate the perfectly wrong time…

  • Guerito

    This sounds amazing! As someone with “good benefits” in the US, I still pay more than 15% of my income each month and have a high deductible. I have it better than many in the US as far as coverage goes, but 20 bucks a month for that piece of mind and to cover the high deductible would be awesome!

    I broke my arm in Moab last year and ended up paying 1700 out of pocket for a couple visits and x-rays.

    Now if only that can bring this coverage to my state!! Very cool though!

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