Employers may scoff at the childlike feeling of invincibility their millennial employees cite for opting out of voluntary disability benefits, but it’s no laughing matter. It’s a threat to the company’s bottom-line.

A serious injury or illness such as cancer or heart disease can befall the young or the old with little to no warning; wreaking havoc not only on personal finances, but those of the business and associates depending upon that person.

Benefit advisers and employers can boost enrollment of millennials in disability plans by prioritizing education about the need for such benefits and engaging millennials on their own playing field.

Just over one in four of today’s 20-year olds will become disabled before they retire, according to the Social Security Administration.

Yet, because many millennials feel invincible to disabling conditions, they don’t understand the need for disability coverage, especially coverage needed to pay for any out of pocket expenses, says Alison Daily, second vice president of clinical and vocational services at The Standard insurance company.

That’s especially troubling since millennial employees, new to the workplace, rarely have enough emergency funds saved up to cover the expenses incurred over the average duration of a long-term disability claim, which is 34.6 months, according to the Council for Disability Awareness.

Many millennials (43%) say they feel disability insurance isn’t really necessary until they start a family, according to The Hartford’s Gen Y Speaks Survey released in February.

"It is notable that millennials are waiting until they have a family to protect themselves with life and disability insurance, leaving them exposed to the impact of an injury or illness," says Lindsey Pollak, millennial career expert and a spokeswoman for The Hartford. "That's why it is important for them to invest in themselves starting with their first job. My message to millennials is: Protect your potential. You are totally worth it."

The Standard’s Daily encourages employers and benefit advisers to educate millennials about the importance of voluntary disability insurance by adopting a “fresh, engaging educational campaign that harnesses the millennials’ demand for instant information and educational training.”

Specifically, she suggests using an online educational module and paperless enrollment and benefits administration.

An online education module can include tools such as the CDA’s personal disability quotient calculator and earnable income quotient tools to help employees understand the financial impact of a disabling illness or injury.

Employers can then better engage millennials in the voluntary market by using online modules to help them understand the disability benefits available to them and complete online enrollment, Daily says.

Many modules can be customized for specific employers, helping employees learn the basics of how their unique policies work, including how to estimate their needs, select appropriate coverage and, ultimately, enroll.

Encouraging online enrollment can also help an employer’s human resources department streamline paperwork for benefits administrators. Employees would be able to update their medical information and beneficiary designations online, as well as update all the life changes in store for millennial employees, including marriage and the birth of children.

Register or login for access to this item and much more

All Employee Benefit Adviser content is archived after seven days.

Community members receive:
  • All recent and archived articles
  • Conference offers and updates
  • A full menu of enewsletter options
  • Web seminars, white papers, ebooks

Don't have an account? Register for Free Unlimited Access