Would You Buy Race Registration Insurance?

Vancouver USA Marathon Starting Line
Vancouver USA Marathon - One I had to miss due to illness.. Wendy Bumgardner ©

Last year I registered for several half marathons at a cost of $50 to $100 per event. I had to miss two of them, one due to illness and the other due to a business meeting requiring travel. Most events don't give refunds or credit towards a future event. Very few allow you to transfer your registration to somebody else. If you have to miss the event, you just lose it.

But now you can add $10 or less to your registration price and get Registration Protector insurance through Allianz Global Assistance.

This is offered on registrations through Active.com and RacePartner. The catch is that it isn't no-fault insurance. You have to satisfy their covered reasons for non-attendance. In my case, the illness that required medical treatment and would likely have been covered. But the business meeting out of town would not have been. Airline delays, traffic delays and car breakdowns are covered. I suppose you could always tell a fib about that, but I hate tempting karma.

Why Not Just Wait To Register at the Race?
Some races have registration caps and sell out weeks to months in advance. At others, you can register at the race expo the day before or the morning of the race, but you pay a premium price that is usually more than $10. Late registrants may not get their chosen size of race t-shirt or other goodies. But at least that extra money covers any reason you might drop out. Delaying registering better ensures you don't have a schedule conflict that wouldn't be covered by the race registration insurance.

Why Not Give Your Registration to Somebody Else?
Races typically don't allow you to transfer your entry to another person. Many races, such as the Rock 'N' Roll series, require a photo ID to pick up your race packet with the bib number and timing chip. Their rules are clear -- when you register, there are no refunds, no credits for future events, and if you attempt to sell or transfer your entry to somebody else, they will ban you from their events for three years.

But, they will be happy to mail you the race t-shirt as a consolation prize.

Why do they not allow transfers? At big races, the participants are put into start corrals based on their pace. Allowing transfers would complicate the corral system and you would end up with slower racers in the faster corrals, and vice versa.

Allowing transfers would prevent the liability problems incurred when racers hand over their registrations to friends anyway. If transfers were allowed, the replacement racer would then sign the liability waiver, etc. Instead, races have imposters who haven't signed the liability waiver are on the course. Runners may enlist a faster friend to impersonate them so they can get a qualifying time to races such as the Boston Marathon. But it makes little sense for us walkers who plan to be at the tail end and just want to finish in the time limit. As a walking event organizer, I allowed transfers but no refunds.

Forfeiting Your Registration Fee Still Benefits You
I use half marathons as my motivation to stay in training and do my walking workouts.

As a walker, I don't plan on beating anybody or setting a personal record. If I miss a half marathon, the registration fee was a well-spent investment in getting myself to stay active. But I hate forfeiting the shirt or other goodies that the fee buys you. I was at least able to pick up my shirt and goodie bag at the expo for one race, but couldn't for the Portland Marathon last year. They required photo ID to pick up the packet, and even if I found a ringer, I am too well-known there and an imposter would likely be caught red-handed.

Why Buy Insurance?
According to our Personal Insurance Guide, insurance is meant to cover a catastrophic loss that would cause you financial hardship. In the long run (or long walk), if you could afford the entry fee, you can afford the loss. You pays your money and you takes your chances. It may make more sense to buy trip insurance if you are traveling specifically to attend the race, but not on the entry fee itself.

The pain of forfeiting your fee can keep you training and making your fitness a priority. But choosing who you lose your fee to also helps.With the Portland Marathon, my race fee was forfeited to a grassroots non-profit organization that supports many local charities. When you forfeit your registration fee to a for-profit race organization or an event where little of the fee goes to charity, it is irritating.

Will you buy race registration insurance next time you see it offered?

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