Editor’s Note: Part two of Shawn Miller’s report on Kevin Swindell’s recovery from devastating injuries suffered in a crash during last year’s Knoxville Nationals will appear in the April issue of SPEED SPORT Magazine. Here is a portion of that story.
The cost of riding in an ambulance isn’t the same as in a taxi and staying in a hospital costs a lot more than a hotel.
Medical bills add up quickly and insurance coverage can run dry in a hurry, which Kevin Swindell has seen first-hand since a devastating crash during the FVP Knoxville Nationals last August left him paralyzed.
“Kevin’s helicopter and ambulance rides were $20,000,” said Amy Swindell, Kevin’s mother, who has been immersed in paperwork since that fateful night. “The problem is these race tracks don’t carry very much (insurance coverage), but nobody knows that. When your 27-year-old son looks at you and says, ‘Mom, I’m going to be in debt the rest of my life,’ something is wrong.”
Kevin Swindell had two major surgeries and a lengthy stay in a rehabilitation center, which has been followed by daily visits to the center for several months. The paperwork has been exhausting for Swindell, who said he received $500,000 of insurance coverage since he was a World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series member.
Additionally, there was $50,000 of insurance coverage through Knoxville Raceway, which is the half-mile oval in Knoxville, Iowa, where the crash occurred.
“I think most guys assume wherever they are at will have some insurance,” he said. “Obviously if you’re a full-time guy the likelihood you carry (personal) insurance is very low. If you’re a weekend guy who has a full-time job you’ll likely carry some insurance. I’ve heard of some guys who got hurt at the race track and their insurance had stipulations that kept it from taking care of them. If you’re going to spend enough time in a car you’re going to risk the chance of something happening.
“It costs a lot of money to stay in the hospital. There are options out there that will get you $500,000 of coverage for under $500 per year.”
Short Track Independent Drivers and Associates, better known as STIDA in the racing community, offers three packages with its premier option providing $500,000 — $485,000 in benefits plus a $15,000 deductible — for $499 per year.
Competitive Advantage Program, which works with World Racing Group, offers a package that provides $500,000 of coverage for $217 per year.
Many drivers aren’t members of a series that has a half-million dollars of insurance coverage and most tracks don’t have coverage to the level of Knoxville Raceway.
“We’re trying to reach the grassroots type of drivers,” Swindell said. “Some tracks have a minimal amount of coverage that can easily be eaten up with a broken leg or arm. What if something more severe happens? Obviously none of us are invincible. I think it’s important for drivers to be aware that there are affordable insurance options out there that will be a big help if anything bad happens when they’re racing. It’s better to spend a few hundred dollars per year on insurance and not need to use it than to have something bad happen and not have insurance coverage.”