Insurer Inks Deal With Paralympics

SAN FRANCISCO The U.S. Paralympics has signed its first-ever corporate sponsor—The Hartford, a leading disability insurer.

The “founding partnership” relationship was announced yesterday by the U.S. Paralympics, a division of the U.S. Olympic Committee in Colorado Springs, Colo. The sponsorship involves a seven-figure, two-year agreement and is the most significant corporate commitment to the paralympic sports movement in history, said Olympic committee officials.

“We think the Paralympics embodies our corporate philosophy, which is the power of abilities,” said Liz Zlatkus, executive vice president of The Hartford’s group benefits division. “Lots of people have physical limitations whether through birth or disease or illness. We want to celebrate what they can do. This organization is powerful in demonstrating their awesome abilities.”

The Hartford is the country’s second-largest writer of disability insurance in the workplace, and partnering with an organization that showcases the abilities of disabled people seemed a natural fit, Zlatkus said. The Hartford, Conn.-based company has a 10-year history of sponsoring programs and other athletic events for people with disabilities.

For Paralympic athletes, the sponsorship provides for quality coaching and competition opportunities, said Olympics committee officials.

The Paralympic Games are the Olympic equivalent for athletes with physical disabilities and take place two weeks following the Olympic Games, using the same host city and venues. More than 4,000 athletes are expected at the 2004 Paralympic Games in Athens, Greece.