Insurance for MMA and other similar Combat Sports
Updated June 2016
The following was written and first published in 2005:
There seems to be some confusion about insurance cover for MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) or Cage Fighting, as it is otherwise known.
Some martial arts groups have been selling licences to clubs and practitioners under the miss understanding that these carry
insurance cover via the normal policies. However they DO NOT and carry membership only to whichever martial arts group issued
The CMAA has been in touch with several insurance companies, including our own, and discussed MMA in great detail.
We can confirm that this style of fighting is in fact NOT INSURABLE via the normal policies and in fact none of the companies
that we spoke with are not prepared to offer cover due to the high risk of serious injury.
MMA has been placed in to the 'Dangerous Sports' band and as such all practitioners are un-insured via the conventional means. If
your club belongs to a martial arts group, such as the CMAA, then there is a very high probability that you are not insured for
The same also applies to:
Vale Tudo , Wrestling , Shoot Fighting or in fact any style of fighting that involves striking on the ground.
Kick Jitsu and Submission Grappling (as defined by the CMAA) is however acceptable and fully insured.
The use of Waiver and Risk Forms
These forms generally do not hold up in the case of accidents because no one can sign their rights away not to sue in case of
serious injury. To help address this problem use an 'assumption of the risk' form. For further details contact the CMAA Office.
In January 2009 received news that another martial arts group was again offering membership with cover for amateur MMA. As a
result we published this 2nd article:
We contacted Perkins Slade and asked them to check this for us as if the situation had changed we would alter our own insurance
cover to suit.
However we have today been informed, by Perkins Slade, that while all styles are covered for training, MMA - at what ever level -
is not covered for SPARRING / COMPETING for the reasons mentioned in the 2005 article quoted above.
Training / drilling / practicing techniques from these styles is covered due to the lack of 'competitiveness' involved which greatly
reduces the risk of injury.
We have also traced and spoken to the insurance provider for the body currently claiming to provide cover with their membership.
This insurance company have also confirmed that cover for competing / sparring in MMA is not viable for the above stated reasons.
Once more in January 2010 one of our members contacted us saying that he had been informed that another well known and very
large martial arts group were stating that their membership now included insurance for sparring / competing in MMA.
We contacted this group direct and after a long telephone conversation found that this is not the case as they had developed their own
version of MMA! They had written their own set of rules which included no strikes to the head or back when on the ground and the
use of more personal protective equipment (PPE).
This is NOT MMA as most know and practice it. Instead this is Sport Ju-Jitsu, or Knock Down Budo as it is also known, which has
always been covered.
So once again we can report that MMA is not covered by standard martial arts insurance policies within the UK.
In May 2010 we learned that yet another group was claiming to offer full cover via Lloyds. While we are not going to name this
group, however here is a direct quote in response to an email we sent them:
'In closing and for the avoidance of doubt, yes, ****** provides full insurance covers for MMA.'
We contacted Perkins Slade and asked them to look into adding the cover to our policy and in order to avoid any confusion over what
we wanted we also sent them a video of a MMA fight showing a fighter being knocked out by a knee to the face.
On 21st June 2010 we received this response:
'Royal and Sun Alliance have confirmed they are willing to continue to provide cover for the non contact training aspect of Mixed
Martial Arts but are not prepared to cover full contact competing.
As you are aware we have approached alternative markets for you in order to obtain cover for Mixed Martial Arts that some of
your members practice in. As advised previously they were not prepared to offer cover for the Mixed Martial Arts side of things
due to concerns relating to the heightened risk of injury. They were also concerned that an official could fail to stop a fight in time
prior to serious injury.
We have approached the Lloyds market for you and due to the nature of the activity of cage fighting our contact within Lloyds has
also had difficulty in finding a market for the risk.'
On 18th April 2011 one of our members contacted yet another martial arts group claiming full cover for MMA. When asked if their
cover included full contact MMA in the cage with little or no protective equipment the answer given was 'yes'.
However when questioned further the call taker retorted with 'what grade do you hold?" to which our man responded "there are no
grades in MMA". He was then told that he would need a black belt to join them and take advantage of their cover. This was their 'get
out clause' to stop him asking further questions and get him off the phone!
The report that Lloyds have offered full cover for competitive MMA reached use once again in March 2012 with the addition that the
club had been negotiating the policy for quite some time. When we looked into this we found that Lloyds had offered cover BUT with
quite a few restrictions one of which being the wearing of more PPE such as boxing gloves covering the fingers and all knuckles in
place of standard MMA mitts. This alone makes this NOT MMA meaning that the small independent club making the claim is not
entirely correct in claiming to hold cover for sparring/competing!
What follows is a an image taken from the Towergate Insurance website in July 2013 used when purchasing cover online, the
exclusions are quite clear:
June 2016 saw a Facebook page claiming cover for MMA events which included the fighters. I contacted the broker who, after a long
chat, asked if he could pass on my details to the person who managed the Facebook page so I could advise on how it should be
worded. This i agreed to and within minutes I received a call. To cut a long story short the cover is no different to what's already in
place but with a slight alteration - that being fighter negligence but NOT personal injury for all of the reasons stated above.
The Facebook page in question was then amended to carry this statement:
'INFORMATION - Please note that in the past we have advertised 'Insurance for your MMA events that includes fighters, officials
and promoters, not just the spectators' - This relates to Negligence claims made and not personal accident.
Apologises for any confusion. . . Thank you Andy Morrell for highlighting this point for us. Great to talk to you today...'
NOTE: If anybody reading this article is a member of a martial arts club/group who claim that you are covered for
sparring/fighting/competing in MMA, I would advise you to contact your insurance provider direct, tell them exactly what
you are doing (or even better send them a video link as we did) and see what they say.
By this I mean the Broker not the martial arts group you have got your licences/membership from. Do this now rather than
have a claim and then be told you are not covered when it's too late!!
For further details contact the CMAA Office.
7th June 2016
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