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Americans STILL underestimate the risk of disability

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When we think about protecting ourselves and our families, we think about locking our doors, buying a safe car, exercising or even wearing sunscreen.

But do we think about protecting our incomes? A recent survey by my company, Anthem, found that while 90 percent of respondents say they lock their doors and windows, just 40 percent of Americans have disability insurance, which could protect them financially if they were unable to work.

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May is Disability Insurance Awareness Month, a time to consider that, while disability can seem unlikely, it’s more common than many people think. According to a 2012 FBI report, the risk of a home robbery is one in 36, but people think they’re more likely to be robbed than to become disabled. Unfortunately, more than one in four of today’s 20 year-olds will become disabled before they retire, per statistics from the Center for Disability Awareness.

Anthem’s survey revealed that in many cases, Americans are not doing enough to protect themselves from the risk of disability.

Americans try to be conscientious about protecting what’s important. Virtually all Americans (98 percent) report that they try to protect things that are important to them, and 99 percent take steps to protect their home and health. While 93 percent take steps to protect their income, just 40 percent have disability insurance.

Americans want to protect their families, but are financially vulnerable. Nine out of ten (92 percent) Americans agree that their income is important to their well-being and their family’s well-being, and 63 percent would worry about their family’s finances if they were out of work for an extended period. Yet one in four (24 percent) could not pay necessary bills for even a month without an income.

While their income is critical, the majority of Americans do not have insurance to protect it. A majority of Americans have health (87 percent), homeowners or renters (71 percent), and dental (61 percent) insurance. But only 40 percent have disability insurance.

For employers, it’s important to remind employees that it’s difficult to protect yourself from what you’re not expecting, and disability is a commonly underestimated threat. Most people think of workplace injuries or accidents when they think of disability, but the reality is 90 percent of disabilities are caused by illness, such as arthritis, back pain or cancer.

For this reason, employers should also consider integrating disability and medical benefits to help employees get back to work sooner and control costs of absenteeism. 

Though it may seem unlikely, at times disability can interrupt a person’s ability to work. Disability insurance is an important step in protecting one of Americans’ more important assets: their income.

See also: 

Disability Insurance Awareness Month starts Monday

7 time-tested disability insurance sales tips

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