Life happens: Helping protect employees with accident insurance

By Wendy Herndon

Knowledge is power, so the saying goes. Maybe it is because the more we know, the easier it can be to prepare. Weather forecasts, for example, help us know if we should pack an umbrella that morning. It is also true in sports: a baseball coach whose team is facing the best in the league will study their opponents to know how to win.

Yet, prognostication is not a superpower. A meteorologist might predict a sunny day but miss the chance rainstorm that causes you to rush for cover – and slip on the sidewalk in the process. A coach could never prepare enough for his or her star player fracturing a wrist during pregame practice.

Life happens to all of us. There is not enough knowledge in the world to know when accidents will occur. Not only could they ruin your plans, but they can take a serious jab at your savings. Rising medical costs coupled with the growing popularity of high-deductible health care plans is creating financial strain for many individuals and families. In fact, nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of employees said they could pay less than $1,000 in out-of-pocket costs for an unexpected illness or accident today.

Accident insurance can help workers and their families stay ahead of the expenses that add up quickly after an injury, including treatment-related costs and everyday bills that may continue to roll in. As clients re-evaluate their plans ahead of the fall benefits enrollment season, now is a good time to explain the importance of accident insurance. Below are a few points to keep in mind while meeting with clients.

Helps employees prepare for the unexpected

After a serious injury occurs, most people naturally focus on treatment and recovery. However, once the initial shock wears off, financial worry and sticker shock from medical bills can sink in fast. While major medical insurance may pay for some doctor, pharmacy and hospital costs, most people are left with unexpected out-of-pocket expenses that were not intended to be covered by major medical.

Depending on the plan, accident insurance can pay a specific benefit amount for:

  • Emergency room treatment, X-rays and diagnostic exams.
  • Physical therapy and follow-up treatments.
  • Ground or air ambulance to a hospital.
  • Hospital confinement.

No person is immune to an accident

Unlike some insurance policies that may be more appropriate for certain age groups or at-risk individuals, voluntary accident insurance can be beneficial to a wide range of employees.

The CDC estimates hospital emergency departments receive 30.8 million visits each year for accidental injuries. Clearly no one is immune to life’s unexpected events. Therefore, when meeting with customers, it is important for brokers and agents to reiterate how accident insurance provides both peace of mind and financial security for everyone, regardless of life stages.

The reality is that many employees – from new graduates who have not had time to build up an emergency savings account to older employees who want to avoid taking money out of retirement funds early – may not have the cash on hand to cover high deductibles or out-of-pocket costs. However, with accident insurance, customers do not have to risk the inability to pay normal living expenses or derail their financial goals as a result of an unexpected injury.

This means life can go on for all employees – parents do not need to redirect their savings to help pay for a child’s broken arm, and weekend warriors can continue to chase their wanderlust without worrying about whether their benefits follow them when they are out of town.

What is in it for the employer?

There is yet another reason for employers to offer accident insurance: the growing focus on corporate social responsibility. Companies today are increasingly judged by their impact on the environment, on the communities in which they do business, on their civic and social contributions and on the way they treat the employees who depend upon them for financial security.

By providing clients with access to accident insurance – in other words, by showing they genuinely care about employees both on the job and after business hours – they can better demonstrate the compassion that separates great companies from merely good ones. Best of all, voluntary insurance policies can be offered at no direct cost to the employer.

While we may not be able to know everything, we can certainly be prepared. So, check the weather forecast and study up for the big game. For your clients, however, make sure they know the value of preparing for the unpredictable by offering their workers accident insurance.

Wendy Herndon is second vice president of product development and implementation at Aflac. With more than 20 years of experience in this field, she is responsible for managing and guiding product portfolios through their entire life cycles including strategy, development and implementation.