Most employees know little or nothing about disability insurance. But when they find out about it, they want it.
So says a national survey of 1,200 employees from the Consumer Federation of America and Unum. When given information about this financial protection benefit, nine out of 10 employees say they want disability coverage and would pay for it.
In the CFA-Unum survey, only 13 percent of all employees say they know “a lot” about this insurance, and less than half of those who say they have coverage know how much it costs (41 percent) or what its benefits are (47 percent).
When given information about disability insurance, the majority (90 percent) say they want this coverage, and nearly as many (8 percent) say that, if required, they would pay half of a $30 monthly premium, with more than half (56 percent) saying they would pay all of this premium, to gain income protection.
“Almost all workers wisely want disability insurance protection and are willing to help pay for it,” says Stephen Brobeck, CFA’s executive director. “But since only about one-third have long-term disability insurance, there is a huge gap between worker desire for coverage and the extent of actual coverage.”
"The ability to earn a living—our income—is the most valuable asset we have, and protecting that asset is increasingly important,” says Thomas Watjen, president and CEO of Unum. “A disabling illness or injury can cause real financial hardship for many individuals and their families, and disability insurance creates a backstop against significant income loss during the period of absence, recovery and return to work.”
The high value employees place on the availability of disability insurance, and their personal desire for insurance coverage, certainly reflect the fact that most workers say they would suffer financial hardship if not able to work.
More than three-quarters of all employees (77 percent) say they would suffer great or moderate financial hardship if they did not work for three months because of injury or illness, with half indicating “great hardship.” And 78 percent say they would experience great financial hardship if they did not work for 12 months.
Lower-income workers are much less likely to have access to disability insurance coverage, but are more likely to want this coverage, than are upper-income workers. Fewer than half (46 percent) of employees with household incomes under $25,000, but 80 percent of those with household incomes of $100,000 or more, say that their employer offers disability insurance. Yet, 72 percent of the lower-income group, but only 51 percent of the upper-income group, say that it is very important to them personally to have this insurance coverage. And lower-income workers are nearly as willing as higher-income workers to pay for this coverage.