Getting freaky: Workers need coverage for accidents both straightforward and strange

They happen all the time: freak accidents that leave you shaking your head in disbelief. There’s the America’s Next Top Model winner who lost a film role when a handstand went awry, the football player who slipped on a rubber mat and injured his knee, the NASCAR driver who broke his foot playing Frisbee, the baseball pitcher who missed a key game because he strained his wrist playing Guitar Hero.

Accidents occur every second and affect all sorts of people. Whether it’s falling off the roof while stringing Christmas lights or slipping on a freshly mopped floor, stuff just happens. Google “freak accidents” and you’ll get thousands of examples, some chuckle-worthy in a “you’ve got to be kidding me” kind of way and others downright sad.

When it comes to accidents, American workers have a sense of invincibility. Accidents, they tell themselves, are things that happen to other people. But chances are the guy who’s been in rehab for years because a tree limb fell on him in Central Park felt the same way. Accidents simply happen – that’s why they’re called accidents. No one can predict when or whom they’ll strike.

As an employer or broker, you have a vested interest in helping workers understand just how common disabling accidents really are. Some are headline-worthy, others become the stuff of family legend and still more are just regular, everyday mishaps. One thing all accidents have in common, though, is their ability to leave victims not just physically disabled, but financially disabled too.

Who pays for that?

Many employees believe the Social Security administration will lend them a financial hand if they’re hurt, but that’s often an incorrect assumption: Currently, 65 percent of applicants for government benefits are turned down. What’s more, 90 percent of disabilities are not work related, so they’re not covered by workers’ compensation.1

Adding insult to injury is the fact that many families simply aren’t good at saving money. Half of all U.S. households are “financially fragile” and would have difficulty raising $2,000 within a month.2 That’s bad news when a breadwinner is injured and can’t work – and, therefore, can’t earn an income.

The good news? Employers can help protect their workers’ financial security by offering group or individual disability insurance and it doesn’t have to cost their companies a dime. By adding an employee-paid voluntary disability plan to their benefits portfolios, businesses give workers valuable financial protection with no direct effect on their companies’ bottom lines.

Building employee trust

Here’s more good news: Employers that put together comprehensive benefits portfolios do more than help protect their employees’ financial health, they also protect their business interests. Workers surveyed as part of the 2013 Aflac WorkForces Report 3 said strong benefits plans increase their company loyalty, productivity and job satisfaction. What’s more, health insurance plays a huge role when workers are deciding whether to remain in their jobs or leave for companies offering better benefits.

Fast facts

Whether you’re a broker or employer, here are a few disability facts to remember:

  • The threat of a disabling accident is real: The Social Security Administration estimates that slightly more than 25 percent of 20-year-olds will be disabled before reaching age 67.4
  • Just 31 percent of Americans are protected by disability insurance, and half of those believe they need more coverage.5
  • A mere 9 percent of long-term disabilities are the result of accidents that are considered “serious.” 1
  • Employer-provided disability insurance prevents as many as 575,000 families each year from slipping into poverty levels and saves the government and taxpayers up to $4.5 billion annually. 6

Physically disabled, financially able

Disability insurance protects an employee’s most valuable asset: his or her income. Without regular paychecks, many would find it difficult – even impossible – to pay the mortgage or rent, car and credit card payments, utility bills, education costs and food bills.

Disability insurance protects an employer’s most valuable asset too: its workforce. It helps ensure an employee can focus on getting well, not on how to pay the bills, which can lead to a quicker return to work.

To learn more about voluntary disability insurance coverage and how it protects companies and their workers, go to


1 Facts from LIMRA, 2013 Disability Insurance Awareness Month, accessed Aug. 6, 2013 -
2 Financial Fragile Households, Evidence and Implications, National Bureau of Economic Research, accessed Aug. 6, 2013 –
3 The 2013 Aflac Workforces Report, a study conducted by Research Now on behalf of Aflac, accessed Aug. 6, 2013 – 
4 Social Security Basic Facts, Social Security Administration, accessed Aug. 6, 2013 -
5 LIMRA and LIFE Foundation Insurance Barometer Study 2012, Workplace Attracts Double the Number of Disability Insurance Shoppers as Traditional Shopping Methods, accessed Aug. 6, 2013 – Charles River Associates, Financial Security for Working Americans: An Economic Analysis of Insurance Products in Workplace Benefits, accessed Aug. 6, 2013 –