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U.S. workers ill-prepared for disabling illness or injury

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Nearly half of American workers (47 percent) say they love their jobs and 10 percent would continue to work even if they won the lottery, according to a Cigna survey on workplace attitudes. 

Released during Disability Insurance Awareness Month, the survey reveals that most American workers don’t have an adequate plan for sustaining an income should they be unable to work due to a disabling illness or injury.

More than 1.5 million workers suffered injuries or illnesses in 2014 that required absences from work, job transfers or restrictions at work. Nearly 3 in 4 workers (72 percent) surveyed say they are taking proactive steps to guard against such circumstances, but Cigna notes these measures may not be sufficient if they were out of work and unable to earn an income for more than a few days.

See also: Americans STILL underestimate the risk of disability

“American workers are on the right track when they say they are making healthier choices and even saving money to prepare for the possibility they could be out of work for more than just a few days if they were sick or injured,” says Mark Marsters, senior vice president for Cigna’s disability insurance business. “Beyond the costs of medical treatment, if recovery required time away from work, paying for everyday bills or for extras like child care, transportation or home maintenance could become a challenge.”

The most popular actions workers say they have taken within the past six months to financially protect themselves against an unexpected illness or injury are:

  • Trying to be healthy to avoid an illness (51 percent),

  • Saving more money (35 percent), and

  • Taking precautions to become more safety conscious (33 percent).

However, only 1 in 10 survey participants say they bought additional disability income insurance or purchased supplemental insurance products like critical illness, accidental injury or hospital indemnity insurance.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics only 39 percent of private industry workers have short-term disability insurance. Fewer still – 33 percent – have long-term disability coverage, suggesting that employees may be placing too much confidence in strategies that don’t include insurance coverage.

The survey also reveals these findings:

  • 44 percent of American workers say that they worry about how they might pay for medical costs not covered by their medical plan.

  • Employees who are offered disability insurance, critical illness insurance, accidental injury insurance or hospital indemnity insurance are nearly twice as likely to see how these products can help provide additional financial protection than workers who don’t have these benefit options available.

  • When asked about benefits they would want if a disabling injury or illness were to occur, only 47 percent of survey respondents cite disability insurance. Nearly as many, 39 percent, said they would turn to sick time or Family & Medical Leave (FML) for help. 

Conducted by TNS (a part of the Kantar Group, which is a division of WPP Worldwide) the Cigna survey polled 1,389 full and part-time employed Americans 18 years of age or older. The sampling error for this study is +/- 4 percent.

Go to the next page to see an infographic highlighting results from the Cigna survey.

See also:

4 juicy disability insurance awareness market segments

5 videos to boost your inner Disability Awareness warrior

7 new cartoons for disability insurance advisors


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