QBE has defended its decision to deny an NRL player’s claim for a “career-ending injury” that has been highlighted by media during the past week, saying the injury that forced Parramatta Eels player Anthony Watmough into retirement was due to a pre-existing condition.
The insurer says Mr Watmough’s forced retirement only a year into a four-year contract was due to ongoing and degenerative knee problems – not a “career-ending injury”.
He was among the top 25 players at each NRL club covered by QBE’s career-ending injury policy, created following a tackle on Newcastle Knights’ Alex McKinnon in 2014 that left him a quadriplegic.
A QBE spokesman told insuranceNEWS.com.au the policy was introduced in consultation with the NRL and the players’ association, covering “unexpected” or “catastrophic injury”.
“This was never designed to support all players who are medically retired.”
Parramatta claimed Mr Watmough suffered a career-ending injury in February during pre-season training, and thus was covered.
But QBE says a medical examiner determined the condition was pre-existing.
“While the club involved is no doubt disappointed with the outcome in Mr Watmough’s case, the medical examiner’s report was clear – it wasn’t a new injury that forced his retirement, rather the result of chronic and degenerative problems that have been well documented,” the spokesman said. “As such, Mr Watmough wasn’t eligible to claim benefits under this policy.”
QBE says it has the NRL’s support on the decision.
The Eels will now have to pay out the rest of Mr Watmough’s contract, reportedly worth about $1.2 million.