The Case for runDisney Race Insurance

by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix, staff writer
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2013 was supposed to be my year of running.

After finishing three half-marathons in 2012, I resolved to pick up the pace and finish six races in 2013. The new year started off well—I finished two half-marathons in the first two weeks of the year, and was really looking forward to filling in my race calendar. I registered for the inaugural Disneyland Dumbo Double Dare, and considered my other race options.

Then I stumbled, literally. It might have been during the Castaway Cay 5K, it might have been at Knott's Coaster Run—but somewhere along the way, I took a bad step and hurt my foot. Running hurt. Walking hurt. Shoes hurt.

Although my primary doctor said there was nothing wrong, I sought a second opinion from a podiatrist when the pain persisted for months. After I described the pain, she gently pressed a specific spot on my foot. After she scraped me off the ceiling, she confirmed my fears: my foot was broken. Worse, since the break had been left untreated for so long, she said, it might never heal properly.

Suddenly, my year of running was over. I definitely wasn't entering any other races, and there was no guarantee that I'd even be able to complete the races for which I'd already registered.

I did everything my doctor, herself an avid runner, advised to try to heal my foot. I iced, elevated, wore the dreaded walking boot, used crutches, and even rented a wheelchair during a Walt Disney World trip (in the rain, I might add). I used an electronic bone stimulator faithfully every night, and returned for regular checkups.

The Friday before the Dumbo Double Dare, my doctor reluctantly approved me to walk—walk—the 10K race on Saturday, but was told that I was not to even think about crossing the starting line of the half marathon Sunday under any circumstances.

So, there was one race entry fee down the drain. While Disney allows runners to "defer" registration to the following year in the event they can't participate in an event, there are no refunds, and your registration fee is non-transferable. Sure, you have a reserved spot next year, but you pay for that spot.

Fast-forward to this month. Although I am registered for both the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend 10K and half-marathon, I won't be at either starting line. Instead, I'll be with my family attending the funeral of my beloved grandmother. And that's the way it should be. Still, that's two more race registrations I won't be able to use; three in 12 months—$500 in registration fees lost because I can't predict the future.

Hundreds of other runners are facing the potential loss of their race fees from the WDW event because of winter storm Ion and the polar vortex. These are runners unable to get out of their driveways, much less their state. And there's nothing they can do—Disney's policy is clear. Of course, the Mouse is not alone in this—most American road races have no-refunds policies, but most will at least mail your race shirt if you ask them to.

I don't know what the rest of 2014 holds for me. I don't know if I'll remain injury-free for another training season. I don't know if I'll have another family emergency, or if an earthquake will turn Southern California into quicksand. What I do know is that I'm not willing to gamble with non-refundable race fees anymore, so I've made a big decision. II am passing on the 2014 runDisney race cycle, specifically because runDisney refuses to offer the Registration Protector insurance available through Active.com, the company Disney uses to process its race registrations.

Introduced in 2012, Registration Protector is an optional insurance policy that costs runners $7 per event. The insurance provides a refund in the event a runner can't participate in an event for a covered reason, such as an injury, loss of job, or travel interruption. The program is administered directly by Active.com, which means Disney doesn't need to change its own no-refunds policy. The coverage is underwritten by Allianz Global Assistance, a well-known travel insurance provider—in fact, it's the same company that underwrites the travel insurance offered by the Disney Cruise Line.

Disney raised the price of the Dumbo Double Dare by $40 in one year. The Disneyland half-marathon alone is nearly $200 now, a $100 increase in nine years. These are not insignificant amounts of money. Yet while Disney offers travel insurance for cruises and vacations, it has deliberately opted not to do so for runDisney events by disabling the Registration Protector option on their events.

So I'm sitting out 2014 as far as runDisney is concerned. I won't be part of the mad dash trying to snap up fewer Dumbo Double Dare slots this year—you can have my spot. Instead, I'll focus on smaller races with lower registration fees, where the no-show penalty isn't quite as steep.

And I'll hope that runDisney reconsiders offering a service that costs them nothing, but protects its customers from simply being human.

Comments

  1. By olegc

    i read this yesterday and I can't believe that Disney would not do something relatively simple which would be viewed as great customer service without a lot of effort on their part. I can only imagine there is something the lawyers don't like in a contractual agreement - or its just they don't want to lose control of the reg process (do they treat it like admission media? ;-) ). I am sorry you went through that. i had something similar (though not as drastic) with my foot a few years ago - ref'ing high school soccer. foot swelled, etc. Primary said ice it and it will go away - just a sprain. Later, when I had a toe problem, the podiatrist asked me if I knew I broke my foot. Nice...

  2. By Lani

    Oleg -- sorry to hear you had to go through that.

    I feel for Adrienne. I didn't know about the insurance that Active.com offers... I can't understand why runDisney won't allow that option to appear in the registration, either, esp since they offer something similar for their cruises!

  3. By olegc

    Quote Originally Posted by Lani View Post
    Oleg -- sorry to hear you had to go through that.
    That's ok - not as much pain after the fact as AVP had I would think - just my foot volume is a little bigger :-/

    I was going to make 2014 my year to start Disney events with 5ks, then 10k, etc. then in December I ripped up the right knee (yes, HS Soccer ref). back to the stationary bike for me at the end of Jan.
     
    Sucks

    er, um, Stinks to get old... (as some have said).

  4. By StormalongSavvy

    Adrienne, so sorry you had to go through this. I agree 100%. It's one of Disney's worst policies. Last year I developed knee injuries a month before the Princess Half; I lost out on that registration, plus the one hundred something dollars on the Race Retreat. The fact that these races also sell out quickly and/or increase in price closer to race day makes it very difficult to plan around potential injuries. If Active.com already offers the insurance, Disney would be foolish not to capitalize on that.

  5. By Jimbo996

    I don't understand why you get mad at Disney for not offering the insurance. You can get travel insurance and auto car collision damage waiver separately and not directly from the company that sells you the airfare, the cruise, and the auto rental. Maybe look up to see if Allianz or Travel Guard or other insurance companies offer an insurance plan on its own. Usually you need to buy the insurance within 10 days of buying the product.

    I don't always trust the company that offers the travel insurance, which is why I buy it myself separately.

    Look on the bright side, you might be out $500, but you didn't have to cancel a paid-for trip, which can cost thousands of dollars.

  6. By SuzanneSLO

    Quote Originally Posted by Jimbo996 View Post
    I don't understand why you get mad at Disney for not offering the insurance. You can get travel insurance and auto car collision damage waiver separately and not directly from the company that sells you the airfare, the cruise, and the auto rental. Maybe look up to see if Allianz or Travel Guard or other insurance companies offer an insurance plan on its own. Usually you need to buy the insurance within 10 days of buying the product.

    I don't always trust the company that offers the travel insurance, which is why I buy it myself separately.

    Look on the bright side, you might be out $500, but you didn't have to cancel a paid-for trip, which can cost thousands of dollars.

    I agree that for those traveling to attend a RunDisney event should explore purchasing a separate policy. Due to way policies are typically priced, adding the race registration fee to the other non-refundable expenses you were going to cover with travel insurance available through a third party is probably only slightly more expensive, but is more likely to reimburse you if you cannot attend.

    One reason that a separate policy is more likely to reimburse you is that the Allianz/Active.com policy excludes a cancellation due to a pre-existing medical condition.

    As explained in the FAQ on the Allianz website: "A pre-existing medical condition is an illness or injury for which you, your event companion or family member were seeking or receiving treatment or had symptoms of on the day you purchased the Event Registration ProtectorSM insurance, or at any time in the 120 days before you purchased it. This also includes being required to take prescribed drugs or medicine unless the illness remains controlled without any change in the required prescription. Please note that you may still be covered for losses caused by reasons other than those related to an existing medical condition."

    Unlike many travel insurance policies, it is not an option under this policy to have the exclusion for pre-existing medical conditions waived.

    It also excludes cancellation coverage for pre-existing medical conditions for other family members (not all travel insurance policies do). This makes it less likely that reimbursement will be available when the cause of the cancellation is the death or illness of an elderly relative.

    -- Suzanne

  7. By MyTwoCents

    ...and the award for drama queen goes to.....
    Terrible things happen to everyone. Unfortunately, many prefer blaming someone/something else for their situation. Not to mention breathlessly over-dramatizing their situation in an effort to garner pity support. That the author is so eager to prop up a reasonable request--Disney, please consider adding insurance to this aspect of your offerings--with bathetic pathos instead of a straightforward, mature argument simply undermines her credibility regarding what this site's purpose claims to be.
    One steady, dependable blogger managed to get the WDW Update out on time for years without whining. And when his personal life demanded his full attention, he was mature enough to just say goodbye. Since then it's been an embarrassing hit-or-miss regarding the quality and timeliness of the WDW Update. Maybe it's well past time to not just stop running, but stop writing, also. Your feet and your heart clearly are not up to the task.

  8. By stan4d_steph

    Just to clarify, I am the main author of the WDW update now, not the author of this piece.

    Please keep comments to the subject matter of the article, and direct any other comments via email or direct message. Thank you.

  9. By AVP

    Quote Originally Posted by MyTwoCents View Post
    Maybe it's well past time to not just stop running, but stop writing, also. Your feet and your heart clearly are not up to the task.

    I always welcome civilized discussion with readers, even those who disagree with me. However, from your comments on this and other threads it seems that you are making this personal for some reason. In your eagerness to blast me yet again you've completely overlooked bylines, or perhaps don't care care that I'm not the one writing the WDW Update most weeks.

    Which is not to throw Steph under the bus either. She has stepped up to write the Update, despite a load of personal stuff that she isn't complaining about either. I agree, the Updates need to be on schedule, and we're all working on that. Perhaps you noticed that she posted a note Tuesday that this week's Update would be delayed. We really do listen to reader feedback.

    Since you have me at a disadvantage – everyone can easily know who I am, yet only you know who is hiding behind your screen name – I can't imagine what I've done to warrant this extra special attention from you. If you wish to enlighten me, then please feel free to e-mail me.

    Just forgive me if I don't respond too quickly. At risk of being accused of yet more "bathetic pathos," (oh, and thank you for introducing me to a new word - at first I thought that was a typo on your part but I wasn't sure so I looked it up), I'm heading out of town for yet another family funeral. 2014 hasn't been a kind year so far.

    Which ironically brings me back to the original topic of this article. Had I registered for the Tinker Bell Half Marathon at Disneyland this weekend, that would be another race I would be missing, another runDisney event registration down the drain, and yet another reason why I strongly feel runDisney needs to allow Active.com to offer their existing race insurance programs for future events. Registration for the Dumbo Double Dare opens in two weeks - lets hope they change their policy by then.

    Adrienne

  10. By MyTwoCents

    "Please keep comments to the subject matter of the article, and direct any other comments via email or direct message. Thank you."
    Good advice.

  11. By Mark Goldhaber

    Quote Originally Posted by MyTwoCents View Post
    One steady, dependable blogger managed to get the WDW Update out on time for years without whining. And when his personal life demanded his full attention, he was mature enough to just say goodbye. Since then it's been an embarrassing hit-or-miss regarding the quality and timeliness of the WDW Update. Maybe it's well past time to not just stop running, but stop writing, also. Your feet and your heart clearly are not up to the task.

    As the "steady, dependable blogger" in question, while I appreciate your recognition of my effort, I can also attest to Adrienne's tremendously extenuating circumstances over the last few months. I wouldn't wish them upon anybody.

    I don't think that there's anybody (myself included) that has worked as tirelessly to keep MousePlanet running as Adrienne. She has also put in a tremendous amount of effort into her fitness pursuits. I don't think that it's out of line to ask runDisney to provide a product that already exists and doesn't cost them anything, especially since Disney offers related products for other Disney vacations.

    If you really think highly of my writing over the years, then I'll ask that, as a favor to me, lay off of Adrienne. Without her, there would be no MousePlanet. Period.

    Thanks.

  12. By timl33

    I'm surprised more races don't either have race insurance, or allow people to transfer their entry for a small fee. It's really a win-win situation for everyone. Insurance companies are making money offering a service people need. If transfers are allowed for a small fee, then the race company makes more money, and someone who didn't get into the race now can.

  13. By RunningFool

    One interesting point I've noticed is the insurance coverage is good EXCEPT in Washington State where I live. It's the only state so far where you can't purchase it.

  14. By Lani

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Goldhaber View Post
    I don't think that it's out of line to ask runDisney to provide a product that already exists and doesn't cost them anything, especially since Disney offers related products for other Disney vacations.

    I think Mark nails it on identifying the primary issue here.

  15. By Disneyphile

    A friend of mine can be relocated (out of the country) at any time with her job, so she won't register for any of the Disney races, afraid of losing that money, just because the insurance option isn't available, as it is with most other races she runs. So, Disney is actually missing out on her fees and support by not allowing that insurance. It really sucks, because she wants to run Disney, but doesn't want to lose the already high fees, should she get relocated.

    As with all sports, even running greatly increases risk of injury, no matter the skill and/or fitness level. It's a risk that comes with the sport, but just like driving, having insurance is a necessity when the unexpected happens.

    Also - insurance claims rarely pay out what accumulates in the communal premiums. Even if Disney offered their own insurance, they would actually increase revenue for the races, all the while providing better customer service and peace of mind. It would be a good and profitable business practice, plain and simple.

  16. By RunningFool

    Just received a ping from HMF Events (the Hartford Marathon among others) announcing their new Deferment Credit Policy. You can read about it here but in essence it says

    We all know that things come up unexpectedly. Maybe you get injured while training for next month’s goal race. Maybe your sister announces she is getting married on the same day you are registered to run the Hartford Marathon! No matter the reason, we don’t want our runners to suffer with a lost race entry.

    We have developed our new deferment credit policy, effective February 15, 2014, to give our runners greater flexibility. You may now choose to defer race registration up until 14 days before the event for ANY reason, and the deferral credit will be valid to use on any other HMF event for one year from the date of the event you originally registered for.


    Nice...

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