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Unum Updates Group Accident, Critical Illness Offerings

 
Unum announced last week that it will offer new group accident coverage, as well as an enhanced group critical illness product, to meet increasing demand from employers and their workers for such products. Both of the new products come coupled with a wellness benefit.

Such products have become more popular as steady increases in health Critical Illness Insuranceinsurance costs have driven businesses to adjust their benefits strategies. In many cases, that has meant shifting to high-deductible, consumer-directed health plans.  “Although this can lower costs and give employees a greater role in selecting the coverage that’s right for them, it can also leave them exposed to higher out-of-pocket expenses for deductibles as well as for expenses that may fall outside traditional health insurance coverage,” said Mary Ann Beliveau, assistant vice president of product and market development at Unum.

Unum says its new supplemental health offerings complement high-deductible health care plans because they help cover out-of-pocket expenses during a health crisis. The company shared internal data that underscored the financial protection these voluntary benefits products can provide. In the past five years, Unum has approved:
  • More than 6,000 critical illness claims and paid about $70 million in critical illness benefits.
  • More than 56,000 accident claims and paid $40 million in benefits.
Group Accident Plan

Accident insurance provides lump sum benefits for a broad range of accidental injuries. Benefit levels vary according to the injury, and typically help cover emergency room treatment, hospitalization, ambulance and follow-up treatment.

Unum’s group accident plan comes with a new feature designed to help employers better tailor their benefit levels to meet their health plan objectives and their employees’ needs.

Critical Illness Insurance

As more people survive serious health conditions including cancer, heart attacks and stroke, the costs for surviving can be high, even for those with medical insurance. This has helped drive interest in critical illness insurance, with new coverage sales doubling between 2007 and 2010, according to one industry study.

Unum’s critical illness policy typically pays benefits for conditions such as heart attack, stroke, major organ transplant or failure, end-stage kidney failure, and permanent paralysis resulting from an accident.

“Higher deductibles and co-pays, and increasing costs of treatment can drain a bank account or stress credit accounts that are already maxed out,” Beliveau said. “These new products offered through the workplace can be key components in ensuring employees have the financial protection benefits they need to help guard against financial strain.”

The Value of Financial Protection

Unum CEO Tom Watjen echoed that message when he recently addressed a Senate committee on the value of disability benefits for workers.

A worker is three times more likely to become disabled than to die before retirement, but 70 percent of private-sector employees lack long-term disability coverage, Watjen told the committee.

Disability benefits can provide the resources families need to avoid financial hardship when an worker is sidelined by injury or illness, Watjen said. Employers value the role the coverage can play in recruiting and retaining a talented workforce.

Unum commissioned a study by Charles River Associates last year to assess the value of employee benefits, with a specific focus on disability protection provided by employers. Private, employer-sponsored disability insurance saves taxpayers up to $4.5 billion dollars per year by helping families avoid poverty, the study found.

Winston Benefits is a HR solutions company that helps businesses automate and streamline their employee benefit programs. Custom designed and developed client specific solutions help enrich their total compensation and rewards programs while optimizing processes such as benefit communications, enrollment and administration.

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