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SALT LAKE CITY — You can now buy insurance for fantasy football.
In real football, teams pay insurance premiums to protect their financial loss in case a star player gets injured. Now a legitimate insurance broker will insure you if your star fantasy player is out of the game.
About 25 million Americans play fantasy football, which usually involves investing some money to play. The current average is $470 per team, and there's payback if your fantasy team wins.
One estimate predicts fantasy sports will rake in $1.2 billion this year.
"I was always the guy that drafted the top guy that went down to injury," said fantasy football player Joe LaGiglia.
Watching his star fantasy player get injured inspired Lagiglia to launch his insurance idea: Fantasyplayerprotect.com.
Here's how it works: Let's say you pay $100 to join an NFL fantasy league. For about $10 you can go to LaGiglia's website and buy an insurance policy on a star player.
"The guys that really do count for 40 to 60 percent of the points for the team," said LaGiglia.
- Several trophy companies will make up trophies for league winners.
- Some companies were created solely for the purpose of holding entry fees in a bank until the end of the season
- Mitigation companies will resolve disputes if a team owner questions a trade, or if he or she thinks the commissioner is playing favorites
Then, if an injury sidelines your insured star player for at least eight weeks, LaGiglia said you will get a pay out from the A-rated insurance company backing his website.
"When those top players go down, they're going to really mess up your chances of winning," he said. "Those top guys are who we have available."
The website offers a list of 100 players eligible to be insured. Actuaries have crunched the numbers on those players. The premium is anywhere from 9 to 13 percent of the league entry fee.
Cost could depend on which player you choose.
"Maybe a Peyton Manning or an Adrian Peterson who's had injury history, that guy may have a higher premium than a guy who has not been hurt his entire career," LaGiglia said.
This is Fantasy Player Protect's first season, and it won't pay out until the season ends. We checked a competitor with a similar business model - Fantasysportsinsurance.com. Last year, it paid out more than $15,000 in losses to fantasy gamers because of injuries to real players.
"Injuries are a part of the game. We deal with it a lot," said Mike Zangrilli, who has run Phenoms Fantasy Sports for the past 10 years. He hosts fantasy football leagues for some 2,000 "team owners," but he is not convinced insuring star players will be of much benefit.
"I don't think people need that peace of mind," he explained. "You've already put up your money for your league. It's not something where if a guy gets hurt, it ruins your life financially."
Zangrilli said only five NFL players in the 2012 season were sidelined long enough to earn a payout for fantasy team owners. That's about a 5-percent chance you'll get a payout.
"If your player doesn't get hurt, there's no guarantee you're still going to win the league," he said. "You could easily just not have a good season, not win the league. You also don't cash your insurance policy."
LaGiglia said at the end of the day, he can't help you win the league. But he can make you whole with your investment on your fantasy team.
"From a guy who's lost a lot of pride, I've got to tell you having the last laugh when your player goes down, to be able to show off that injury policy gives you a little pride back in your pocket," he said.
I'm certainly not recommending this or not recommending fantasy football insurance. But it is available.