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Put Accident Insurance on Clients' Back-to-School Checklist

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It’s that time of year again. Flyers for school supplies are arriving and many of us have an urge to buy shoes for the new school year – even if our classroom days are far behind us.

For many families, back-to-school also means that organized school activities and sports are gearing up. These activities may even begin in August, before the official start of classes. And with most activities comes the risk of accidental injury. While we hope that our youngsters ride out the season with winning records and without more than a few minor bumps, bruises and scrapes, bigger accidents do happen, unfortunately.

When I hear about any student’s sports-related accident, big or small, I often wonder about whether the family has accident insurance coverage in place to help out. Call it an occupational hazard, but I can’t help jumping to thoughts about the difference this coverage could make for a family dealing with their soccer-star daughter’s ACL tear or son’s football concussion.

Here are a few basics on accident coverage for those who don’t live and breathe it like I do. Accident coverage is most often available through an employer and provides a payment for injuries such as fractures, dislocations and even concussions or emergency dental work. Health insurance is not going to cover all the co-pays and costs of care as a result of an accident – a trend that is only becoming more accentuated – and accident insurance payments can cover those out-of-pocket, unplanned expenses. To cover a family dealing with a child’s sports injury, a parent would elect a spouse and child rider on their accident coverage during an employer’s annual benefits enrollment.

These payments can be especially helpful to families feeling a financial squeeze, and these days you don’t have to look very far to find one closely monitoring the household budget. This is especially true in the autumn months, with back to school and impending holiday expenses, not to mention the added cost of heating oil for those of us in the north.

A common complaint I hear from brokers and employers about accident coverage is that the administration process causes a headache. Frankly, much of the headache has gone away in recent years. Coverage has moved from individually-owned policies – where benefits and prices could vary by state – to group coverage where benefits are tied to the state of the employer’s headquarters. This means that rather than individual policies issued to each employee, a single certificate is delivered to the employer.

Some carriers have taken this even a step further, offering employers true group administration like what they have come to expect with supplemental term life. Under this model, employers simply provide employee, spouse and child rider counts to the carrier for accident coverage. Because the product is composite rated, meaning all employees pay the same rate, the process is streamlined. And because the child rider covers all children, no employer record-keeping is required with respect to the number of children in each family.

Fall open enrollment season, an important time of year for employee benefits, is quickly approaching. This presents a natural opportunity for discussions with employers about introducing accident coverage and the value of the family protection component of the insurance. As back-to-school season approaches, keep it high up on the syllabus!