The case for runDisney race insurance: why I'm sitting out the rest of 2014
by, 01-07-2014 at 07:59 PM (4475 Views)
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 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.
Though my primary doctor said there was nothing wrong, after the pain persisted for months I sought a second opinion from a podiatrist. She listened to me describe the pain, gently pressed one specific spot on my foot, and after scraping me off the ceiling confirmed my fears - my foot was broken. Worse, since the break was left untreated for so long, it might never heal properly.
Suddenly my year of running was over. I definitely wasn't entering any other races, and there wasn't any guarantee 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, 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 Double Dare, my doctor reluctantly approved me to walk - WALK - the 10K race on Saturday, but said I was not, under any circumstances, to even think about crossing the starting line of the half marathon Sunday.
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 January, 2014. Though I am registered for both the Minnie 10K and the Donald half marathon as part of the Walt Disney World Marathon weekend, 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, 3 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 Arctic 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 so much quicksand. What I do know is that I'm not willing to gamble with non-refundable race fees anymore, so I've decided to sit out the 2014 runDisney race cycle for one reason: 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 which 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, including injury, loss of job or travel interruption. The program is administered directly by Active.com, which means Disney doesn't need to change their 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 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 9 years. These are not insignificant amounts of money. Yet where Disney offers travel insurance for cruises and vacations, they have 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 their customers from simply being human.