Jury duty, taxes and life insurance
Photo by Benjamin Palmer/TheRacingExperts.com
Jeb Burton leads a pack of cars at Phoenix International Raceway in March. As Geoff Bodine explains,
drivers also have matters to attend to off the racetrack.
(Editor’s note: Geoff Bodine breaks down three areas outside of racing that have an impact on a racer’s career.)
DISCLAIMER: Opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.
I was summoned for jury duty two or three times during my racing career. In some walks of life, you can take some time off to serve in a jury.
But in racing, you can imagine our schedule is very demanding. If a driver is summoned, they have to go before the judge and explain the situation.
They understand--they work with everyone, not just racecar drivers. I never had to serve during my racing career.
It's also a good thing that some judges are race fans, especially those in North Carolina, so they could be even more understanding.
As drivers, we are under contract and have obligations to fulfill with our teams and sponsors.
I don't know if NASCAR drivers are under a microscope more or less than anyone else when it comes to the IRS. There's a lot of people in this country that make a lot of money besides drivers.
I think if someone is honest with their money, that's the key to not getting in trouble with the IRS.
We all take as many deductions as we can, that's normal and fair to try and save in any area that we can, but when you make a lot of money, you end up paying a lot of taxes
I guess when they see the big number coming in, they get pretty happy. One thing is to be consistent.
The one thing I understand from the IRS is if you don't show consistency in your tax returns, that's when the red flag goes up. They might look into what's going on at that point.
Fortunately, I guess, I was always consistent. I paid a lot of money when I was making money. When you're not making a lot of money, they don't care anymore.
I've been very fortunate because I had people doing my tax returns and I've never been investigated by the IRS.
But, taxes are stressful for everyone. I don't know anyone that likes to pay them, but it's a part of life.
Any business or sport with high risk makes life insurance companies leery to get involved. Insurance companies like to keep our money but don't like to give it back.
Early in my career, it was difficult to get both life and disability insurance. Life insurance wasn't as difficult, they just raised the premium up--double, sometimes triple, the amount someone who wasn't involved in occupation would pay.
Disability insurance was absolutely ridiculous. I was on the first guys to get it.
Bobby Allison thought he had it, and he had the career-ending accident at Pocono Raceway. He found out he didn't have disability insurance and he had a tough time paying his medical expenses.
His situation opened a lot of our eyes, so I ended up going to Lloyd’s of London. IndyCar drivers had disability insurance, and I met a gentleman who was servicing them. Through Lloyd’s of London, I got a policy.
I began telling other racers and my friends about it. Later on, I went to K&K Insurance.
They insure race tracks and other entities in the motorsports industry. They insured the racetrack my parents ran back in Chemung, New York.
They agreed to try it. They wrote me a policy and the same for a few other drivers. Thing were going well until we started hurting and drivers were losing their lives in on-track accidents.
Insurance companies do not like to pay back when that time comes, so they started dropping their coverage.
Lloyd’s of London still does it, but the rates are high, and unfortunately, drivers have to provide their own life insurance, medical and disability. NASCAR has some medical insurance, which I used when I had my accident in 2000 in Daytona.
But when their policy amount ran out, I started using mine. That’s pretty much how drivers have to do it in NASCAR. Change would be nice, and we would all like to see better protection for the competitors, but right now, most of that is on the driver.
Some teams provide insurance for drivers. Some provide workers’ compensation insurance. Some owners provide disability as part of their agreement in the contract.
When I was driving full-time, I had to provide all of that myself.