We had the pleasure of talking to Greg Van Avermaet, Belgian professional road cyclist, Olympic champion Rio2016, winner of Paris-Roubaix and numerous other classics, who currently rides for CCC Team. Read on to find out why he chose and signed a specific accident insurance policy, how he came in contact with Concordia and how important it is for him to work with a good insurance partner.
1. Can you tell something briefly about yourself:
- What was your past as a football player?
I always have an active child. Like many other boys in Belgium, I started playing football at a young age. I was barely 5 years old when I started playing with the devils of VK Hamme. Initially I started as a field player and at the age of 11 I became a keeper. Because I was not unkind in the goal, I was noticed by Beveren. I continued to play there until I was 18. I was really biting by football at the time. Today, or course, there is little time to follow everything closely, but I will never miss the matches of the Red Devils when I get home.
- Where did your passion for cycling come from?
Let us say that I have a huge passion for sport in general. I can really enjoy immensely an athlete who constantly pushes the sporting boundaries in his or her discipline. However, the love for cycling was given to me at birth. As a little boy, I was fascinated by the stories of my grandfather, Kamiel Buysse, who still took part in the Tour de France in the 1950s. My father Ronald was a professional cyclist again in the early 80s. Although I was a little too young to experience his active career, I always looked up to him. In 1980 he took part in the Olympic Games in Moscow. It may sound strange, but it is also for that reason that I get more satisfaction from my golden medal in Rio.By only being present at the Olympic Games I have already followed in his footsteps.
- What is your best moment as a young cyclist?
It is difficult to choose one specific moment. The fact that I quickly realized that I was so quick to digest the switch from football to cycling and that I could participate for the victory, immediately made me feel good. It motivated me to work a little harder for it. If I have to choose one moment anyway, I might opt for my Belgian promises title in 2006 in Charleroi.
- What's your best moment as a professional cyclist?
My best moment as a professional rider is the victory in Rio, becoming an Olympic Champion was something that I couldn't reach. Yet I could rise above myself that day.
2. Do you think cycling in general is a safe sport? To what extent do you consider the risks that you as a cyclist take on a daily basis? Do you also consider any (financial) consequences that a serious accident can entail?
As a rider you rarely or never think during a race about the risks that are taken. You are in the action and you are mainly busy with the competition and your competitors. It is only after a match that you sometimes consider the risks of the sport. Unfortunately, a fall from a colleague only makes you realize how vulnerable we are sometimes. Measures to promote general road safety sometimes lead to additional risks for us, riders. One organizer is already trying to deal with this better than the other, although we cannot complain in Belgium in that regard. The older you get, the more you realize that a major fall can have serious family and financial consequences.
3. What were the reasons for taking out a specific accident insurance to meet your needs as a professional athlete?
At a certain moment you still want to be well informed about your risks and consequences in the hypothesis that something serious would happen. You consult the right people. These will explain your specific situation. Because apparently the situation varies from cyclist to cyclist. It was explained to me that I had to take into account social security, insurance at team level and personal policies that sometimes contain exclusions for professional athletes. As an athlete it is almost impossible to find out for yourself. A good partner in that area is therefore very important.
4. What has prevented you from taking out accident insurance in the past?
There are a number of reasons. As I already mentioned, you have to (re) analyze your situation every year. The policies that are taken out at team level, for example, can vary year after year, which means that your personal situation can be completely different. Furthermore, there is also a general trend within the peloton that more and more attention is being paid to this. The fact that a lot of administration is involved may scare some off. There is also the cost price, although in my opinion this does not outweigh the possible disastrous consequences if you as a rider would have to end your career early due to an accident or illness. I would recommend it to any young rider. After all, as an athlete you invest in your career. Building a good buffer for when something should go wrong, I think is a must.
5. How did you come into contact with Concordia?
Of course I know Concordia through Peter Van Petegem, who is there business development manager. Peter started working in the insurance sector after his career in cycling. He is therefore the right person to link his experience as a rider to the needs in terms of insurance. Concordia focuses on these niche products and comes to the right companies. These companies have the 'know-how' in-house since they have been active in this 'sports sector' for years.
6. Do you find it important to work with a good insurance partner?
Absolutely. As a rider you build a certain network around you. This ranges from people within your team such as trainers, carers, mechanics, etc. to people who do not hang around in the peloton every day, but who do have the knowledge of this sector. I like to be guided by specialists. If you are demanding in terms of training, nutrition, equipment, etc. why would you not look for a good insurance partner.
7. If you would like to recommend Concordia and its accident insurance to other top athletes, what would you say?
I would especially recommend to young cyclists to pay attention to insurance from the beginning of their career. When you're 23, all of this may seem like years away, but the risks are just the same. Unfortunately, I know cyclists who had to stop because of a major accident or a heart defect. I highly recommend everyone to get the right information and have a clear idea of your situation. Thereafter it is essential to work with specialists in their profession. I certainly find an accident insurance a necessity.
At Concordia, we know what it means to strive to be the best, which is why we offer tailor-made solutions to meet the specific needs of professional athletes, sports teams, federations and sporting events. Don't hesitate to contact our sports team today.
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