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As a business owner, you’re committed to making careful, smart choices to keep your business growing and your employees happy.

But did you know that strong benefits can help you achieve both? Voluntary insurance is a simple, affordable way to help your employees protect their financial security in the event of a serious accident or illness.

Traditional health insurance pays doctors and hospitals, while voluntary insurance pays benefits directly to employees,* no matter what other insurance they have in place.

If they’re sick or hurt, it can be used in any way they see fit – whether that’s for leftover medical expenses and other bills threatening their financial security. It’s their money to use their way.

Voluntary insurance: more relevant now than ever before

Changes to the health care landscape – including health care reform and rising medical costs – make voluntary insurance more viable than ever. For employees, it is a practical way to help protect their financial security. For employers, it’s a smart strategy for controlling expenses while helping employees remain financially secure. What’s more, the peace of mind voluntary insurance helps provide can go a long way toward improving employee contentment, morale, productivity and retention.1

How is voluntary insurance bought and sold?

Dental insurance can be purchased through the public health care marketplace. Other voluntary options, such as accident, disability, hospitalization and other choices, are available through private exchanges, insurance agents and brokers.

The good news is that most voluntary insurance premiums are paid by employees who opt to enroll, so they can be offered by employers with little or no direct effect on their bottom lines.

Even if employees choose to apply for insurance benefits through the Small Business Health Option Program (SHOP) or the individual exchange, making additional voluntary coverage available at work can help your organization offer more comprehensive benefits packages – driving employee satisfaction and contentment.

To sum up, voluntary insurance:

  • Strengthens employers’ overall benefits packages.
  • Helps provide employees with financial peace of mind with cash benefits to pay out-of-pocket medical expenses and other bills.
  • Improves employees’ focus, productivity and job satisfaction by helping reduce financial stress and anxiety.

Understanding the array of voluntary policies — and what they cover

There are many types of voluntary insurance, and employees can customize their plans to meet their unique needs and financial circumstances. If they’re sick or injured, benefits can be used in any way they see fit.

Here are some of the options employers can make available to their workforce:

Accident insurance

An accident can happen to anyone at any time – and the financial impact can be significant.

Even minor accidents can lead to large medical bills or missed work, resulting in financial hardship. Regular bills – including mortgage or rent, groceries and utilities – don’t stop when an employee is out of work after an accident. Voluntary accident benefits are paid directly to the policyholder* as cash that can be used however it’s needed — even to help with everyday living expenses.

What’s covered?

Accident insurance provides cash benefits for expenses that aren’t fully covered by health insurance. These may include:

  • Benefits for emergency-room treatment such as emergency-room visits, x-rays, diagnostic exams, physical therapy and follow-ups.
  • Benefits for ambulance, including ambulance transportation or air-ambulance transportation to a hospital.
  • Benefits for hospitalization, including each day the policyholder is confined in a hospital due to injuries sustained in a covered accident.
  • An optional lump-sum death benefit rider for covered common-carrier accidents and other accidents, if the policyholder has purchased an optional accidental death benefit rider.

Who needs accident insurance?

Almost everyone can benefit from accident insurance – after all, no one is immune to accidental injury.

Cancer insurance

It’s important to consider how your employees would manage if they or a family member were diagnosed with cancer and missed work for treatment. The reality is that financial barriers can often delay care, and that can have serious repercussions. While more people are living with cancer today than ever before (more than 15.5 million Americans nationwide in 20162), the financial impact of cancer doesn’t go away.

What does cancer insurance cover?

Cancer insurance policies not only help with the treatment costs of cancer, but allow your employees to focus on getting well instead of on the bills. In the event of a cancer diagnosis, policyholders receive cash benefits* to use as they like. A cancer insurance policy can also help protect the policyholder’s finances from expenses that aren’t covered by health insurance, including experimental cancer treatments, out-of-network specialists, deductibles and more.

Who needs cancer insurance?

Cancer insurance is an option everyone should consider. That’s because individuals and families affected by cancer shouldn’t have to decide between medical treatments and making ends meet. Yet this could be the case for a growing number of workers who are facing high out-of-pocket expenses, despite having comprehensive health insurance. A voluntary cancer insurance policy could make a difference to their personal well-being, families and future. With cancer insurance, treatment and recovery can be the primary focus.

Hospital confinement indemnity insurance

If you’ve ever experienced an injury or illness that required a hospital visit or stay, you know how expensive the bill can be — even after health insurance pays its share. And that price tag keeps rising as costs associated with inpatient hospital services increase and a greater share of deductibles and copays shift to individuals. In fact, the average out-of-pocket price of a hospital stay was $1,813 per person in 2017, an 11 percent increase over 2016.3

A hospital indemnity insurance policy gives cash benefits to your employees* for covered hospitalizations, because even with the best health insurance, an entire hospital bill may not be covered.

What does hospital indemnity insurance cover?

Some hospital indemnity plans provide only hospitalization benefits, while others provide benefits for diagnostic procedures, outpatient surgery and ambulance costs. Features of these plans include:

  • No deductibles or copayments
  • HSA compatibility
  • No networks, so the insured can be treated at the hospital of their choice
  • No precertification requirements
  • Individuals own the policy — even if they change jobs or retire, it stays with them

Who needs hospital indemnity insurance?

Generally speaking, everyone is susceptible to injuries or illnesses that could require a hospital stay and, therefore, everyone’s a good candidate for voluntary hospital indemnity insurance.

If your employees are among the 58 percent of today’s workers who have less than $1,000 to pay for unexpected out-of-pocket medical expenses,4 one visit to the hospital could impact their families’ finances. Hospital indemnity plans can help alleviate the short- and long-term effects of certain inpatient hospital costs.

Short-term disability insurance

As workers strive to safeguard their finances, one area that garners little attention is disability insurance. Many Americans underestimate their personal vulnerability to experiencing a disability and overestimate the resources available to them in such a predicament. In fact, just over one in four of today’s 20-year-olds will become disabled before reaching age 67.5 And considering that 57 percent of working Americans say they only have enough money to pay for bills for six months or less,6 there’s a growing need for voluntary disability insurance.

What does short-term disability insurance cover?

Disability insurance can play a vital role in financial planning and safeguarding your employees’ financial future. It can help ensure employees maintain an income during a short-term disability, and can help with bills while they’re focusing on getting better.

In the event of a covered disability, a voluntary short-term disability insurance policy pays benefits (i.e., a monthly amount that is a percentage of a worker’s gross income) for a set period of time while the policyholder is disabled. Depending on an individual’s situation and short-term disability coverage policy, they may be able to receive benefits for up to 24 months.

Who needs short-term disability insurance?

Any working adult who is not currently covered by private or voluntary short-term disability insurance is a candidate for applying for such coverage. In fact, 67 percent of private-sector workers have no disability insurance and remain vulnerable to losing their income due to an illness or injury.7

A decade ago, it was commonplace for a company-paid disability plan to pay an employee 70 percent of income if disabled, but those rates have diminished, and employees today often receive less than 40 percent.8 Furthermore, most people assume they will receive benefits from Social Security or workers’ compensation, but most often that’s not the case. While the average monthly benefit paid by Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) was $1,172 a month,9 more than 62% of initial (SSDI) claim applications were denied in 2016.10

The need for disability insurance protection may be crucial, particularly for household breadwinners. Disabling injuries or illnesses can lead to significant medical bills, changes to the family’s home or transportation and more. Therefore, anyone who works — regardless of whether they are single, married, with children or without — should consider voluntary disability coverage.

As the health care industry continues to evolve and businesses strive to retain valuable employees while maintaining the bottom line, voluntary benefits will play an ever-increasing role in protecting workers in times of need. Isn’t it time to find out how voluntary benefits can help your organization?

For more information on how voluntary benefits can help your business succeed, visit aflac.com/smallbusiness.