Insurer Off the Hook Despite Improbable Promotional Hockey Shot

Hockey specialty events insurers beware: there is an 11-year-old ringer ready to cash in on the promotional policy you underwrote—and he may have a score to settle.

According to reports, last Thursday during a charity ice hockey game in the small town of Faribault, Minn., Nick Smith’s name was randomly drawn to compete for a $50,000 prize during an intermission.

The contest, which was underwritten by the company Odds On Promotions, is described as the company’s “most popular promotion.” The company says it consists of “randomly selecting a contestant from the crowd to take his or her best shot from the red line (minimum 87 feet). A template will require a near-perfect shot, yet a great prize will reward the future NHL star!”

When the shot was taken from 89 feet away, the three-inch-wide puck slipped right through the three-and-a-half-inch-wide opening in front of the goal.

The only problem? Nick’s twin brother Nate was the one who took the improbable shot. (See video above.)

Reports note that while Nick was outside the arena, his name was selected. Rather than waste the opportunity, Nick’s father reportedly sent down his other twin son, Nate. Nate lined up a perfect shot and the puck went in. However, the boys’ father came clean to promoters the next day, citing, “honesty as the best policy.”

According to Odds On Promotion’s web site, premiums for such a contest start at $500, although it’s unknown at this point how much the planning organization, the Faribault Hockey Association (FHA), paid for the policy.

When asked about the exact wording of the policy, Vance Vinar, Jr., the fundraising chair for FHA, seemed to indicate that policy language would preclude payment, although he would not state with certainty.

“What if the policy said in black and white that the person whose name was drawn must be the one taking the shot? Would the insurer have to pay?” asked Vinar when questioned about the specific policy language. All other questions were referred to the organization’s attorney.

Odds On Promotions responded to a tweet for more policy information by saying, “[The] policy is confidential between the client and insurer. Claims department is still investigating this matter.”

If what Vinar states is true, odds are low the claim will be paid, says coverage specialist Diana Reitz, editorial director for FC&S, a service that provides insurance coverage guidance.

“Insurance policies are contracts, and coverage is triggered based on how the contract is written,” she says. “We may believe—or perhaps even hope—that Odds On Promotions will pay the twins because it just seems like the right thing to do. But the reality is that, if the policy is written so that the person whose name is drawn must take the shot, any payment would be an accommodation by Odds On Promotions. And what are the odds of that?”

Given how much publicity was generated from the event and the statements by the parents that it would go towards their kids’ education as well as toward helping their current school, it’s going to be a difficult decision to make.

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