Help for those affected by the hurricanes | Learn More

A message from Aflac

To our policyholders in areas affected by the recent hurricanes, please know that the thoughts and prayers of everyone at Aflac are with you. We are working with government agencies that represent all declared disaster areas to ensure we do everything possible to help you. Based on that guidance, we have extended the due dates for policy premiums by 60 days for those living in places that have been declared disaster areas. If you have a question about your policy or need help, contact us at 800-992-3522. To help with the recovery, Aflac made a $500,000 donation to the American Red Cross, and our employees are making their own private contributions. Please be safe, as the care of you and your families is paramount.

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people at a coffee bar, drinking coffee“There’s no such thing as a free lunch,” the saying goes, but a recent benefits survey shows some U.S. employees would like to challenge that notion: 18 percent of participants want their companies to pay the tab for their noonday meals.

The finding is part of Mass Mutual’s latest Generations@Work Study,1 which also revealed that 4 percent of workers would like to bring their pets to work, another 4 percent want free coffee bars and 6 percent long for company-provided nap rooms.

Of course, those were among the more unusual desires on the list. At the top were more “standard” wants, including increased vacation days (47 percent), better 401(k) matches (40 percent) and flexible work schedules (36 percent). Interestingly, an optimistic 40 percent would like to pay no health care premiums.

While the chances of enjoying free workplace lunches are slim, employees’ odds of receiving no-cost-to-them health care are even slimmer. But the survey results point to an underlying issue: After years of increasing premiums and copayments, many workers are tired of shelling out more and more of their hard-earned dollars for health care benefits. That’s really not surprising, given that worker contributions for family coverage increased by 83 percent from 2005-2015.2

Companies may – or may not – be willing to accommodate workers who want to bring Spot and Fido to work, but a group of employees they can easily accommodate is the 38 percent who want expanded benefits. One obvious option is the addition of voluntary insurance policies. Because premiums are paid by employees who elect to enroll, these benefits can bulk up a company’s list of health care offerings at no direct cost to the company itself. And while the benefits aren’t free, employees can choose from an array of plans that meet their families’ needs and budgets.

Many employees are familiar with the most commonly available voluntary options, dental and vision insurance, because they’ve become almost standard at American businesses. More often than not, employers make vision and dental coverage available to their workers. There are other voluntary products, however, that may be even more valuable to workers. While most employees can come up with the money to pay for glasses or a tooth filling, it’s much harder for them to finance the medical bills that accompany an accident or illness. In fact, according to the 2015 Aflac WorkForces Report, 67 percent of employees would be unable to adjust to the large financial costs associated with a serious illness.3 Critical illness, hospitalization and accident insurance are three key products that warrant consideration. Here’s why:

  • Critical illness insurance: Voluntary critical illness insurance helps employees stay ahead of the medical and out-of-pocket expenses that can accompany certain medical events. For example, many lump-sum critical illness policies pay benefits when a worker experiences a covered event such as a heart attack, stroke, major human-organ transplant, end-stage renal failure, coma or paralysis.
  • Hospitalization insurance: Voluntary hospitalization indemnity insurance participants receive cash benefits that can be used to help pay for daily living expenses, such as the rent, gas, groceries, utilities and other necessities. While some hospital indemnity plans provide only hospitalization benefits, others pay claims for diagnostic procedures, outpatient surgery and transportation by ambulance.
  • Accident insurance: Voluntary accident insurance helps employees cope with out-of-pocket costs associated with an accident. In the event of a covered incident, it provides cash benefits that can be used in any way employees see fit. These policies help workers and their families stay ahead of the medical and out-of-pocket expenses that add up so quickly after an injury, including treatment-related costs and everyday bills that continue to roll in.

During open enrollment season and throughout the year, companies would be wise to examine and re-examine their benefits options to ensure they’re meeting employees’ needs. While nap rooms and on-site baristas may not be in the cards, voluntary insurance can help provide companies – and their workers – with winning hands.