Jermichael Finley files a $10 million disability claim

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By NBC Sports

After an offseason of optimism and, apparently, at least one offer of employment, free-agent tight end Jermichael Finley has disappeared from public view.

The reason is now becoming clear.  Finley has decided to pursue the $10 million disability policy purchased before neck surgery derailed his career.

According to Tom Pelissero of USA Today, Finley is filing a claim under the policy.  Pelissero suggests that the money “can be paid out as soon as Oct. 20,” which is the one-year-plus-one-day anniversary of the injury.

Sure, it can be paid out by October 20.  But it won’t be.  Insurance companies, as a general rule, love to take money in.  And they hate to pay money out.  They definitely despise paying it out quickly.

Despite the optimism oozing from Pelissero’s report, which paints a picture of Finley simply pressing a green button and $10 million falling out of the machine, the reality is that the insurance company will scour the policy for any language justifying a conclusion that Finley doesn’t meet the terms and conditions, or that one or more specific exclusions apply.

“The policy stipulates Finley can collect the money if he hasn’t played in four games and wouldn’t prevent him from trying a comeback in the future – perhaps even later this season,” Pelissero writes.

That simply sounds too good to be true.  But it could be true.  It could be that Finley has purchased a policy that pays him $10 million if he misses only four games and then lets him play in the future.  But a policy that pays $10 million tax-free under those circumstances likely would cost nearly $10 million.

A traditional disability policy won’t be kicking out cash quite so easily.  A traditional disability policy would pay only in the event of a career-ending injury.

And the insurance company undoubtedly would seize on Finley’s prior admission that he received an offer from the Steelers in support of an argument that the injury didn’t end his career.  This would mean that Finley’s career ended not because of injury but because Finley didn’t want to accept the offer.

So while Finley has decided to pursue the disability benefits, it’s probably not a slam dunk that he’ll be paid.  At a minimum, he’ll likely have to wait.  He may have to sue.  Eventually, he may be told by a judge or a jury that he doesn’t get the money because he truly didn’t have a career-ending injury.

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