Unum’s new benefit expands accident, critical illness coverage

Every 10 minutes, more than 750 Americans suffer an injury severe enough to seek medical help, according to the National Safety Council. A full 75% of people with health insurance say the amount they were charged for copays, deductibles or coinsurance was more than they could afford.

That’s why Unum added a new accident and critical illness features to its health benefit offerings, which can help ease the financial pressure caused by out-of-pocket expenses when an accident, injury or illness occurs. The insurance includes benefits for X-rays, hospital stays or prescription drugs after an accident, along with increases for common accidents including fractures, dislocations and emergency dental services.

The critical illness offering gives employers more flexibility in how they offer the benefit to workers, so can be structured to cover a person during a specific life stage. Coverage for more illnesses and reoccurrence is also included, and there is no limit to the number of payouts a covered person can receive, either for the same of different conditions.

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The accident and critical illness benefits — which are offered on a voluntary basis without additional costs for the employer — also aims to make administration easier for employers.

“For employers, managing group insurance plans, like health, life or disability, while also managing supplemental benefits can be challenging, which is why we added features that align the onboarding, billing and administrative experience with group insurance products,” says Ashley Shope, assistant vice president of product and market development at Unum.

Employers are increasingly embracing voluntary benefits as a way to aid employee financial well-being, research has found. Xerox’s 2016 financial well-being and benefits survey found that two-thirds of employers are using voluntary benefits — including critical illness, accident and hospital indemnity — to supplement core benefits packages which promote financial well-being. The company polled 500 employers of large companies with more than 1,000 employees and found that 55% of companies are implementing, or planning to implement, financial well-being strategies in the next three years.

The number of employers offering accident insurance has risen 11 percentage points to 35% between 2014 and 2018, according to data from the Society for Human Resource Management.

“With the rising cost of healthcare and shift toward high deductible health plans, people are left financially exposed,” Shope says. “Supplemental benefits like accident and critical illness insurance can help fill in the gaps associated with major medical plans.”

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