Stool (Image: Wikimedia Commons Public Domain) (Image: Wikimedia Commons Public Domain)

If you’re in the employee benefits business — and I’m pretty sure you are or you wouldn’t be reading this — you know all about life and disability insurance. After major medical, they’re widely considered the two most important types of insurance protection America’s workers need. I’d be willing to bet you make sure all your clients offer these benefits to their employees.

And while life and disability are the foundation of financial protection benefits, they’re only two of the solutions you should have in your portfolio. Stopping there would be like trying to support yourself on a two-legged stool. To help your clients offer a truly well-balanced — and highly competitive — benefits program, you need to ensure they’re protecting their employees against “minor” as well as major health emergencies.

Accidents can be a major pain — in the wallet.

I use quotation marks around the word “minor” because accidental injuries can have a major impact on a worker’s financial future.

Even with the best major medical coverage, out-of-pocket costs for accidental injuries can add up quickly. An emergency room visit can cost several hundred dollars, according to CostHelper. Depending on the treatment, diagnostic tests and lab fees needed, the bill could total several thousand dollars. Accidents requiring follow-up treatment — removing a cast or physical therapy, for example — often involve additional costs for co-pays or coinsurance.

(Related: ACLI to Lobby for Supplemental Benefits)

And employees with high-deductible health plans will be responsible for many of those expenses before their medical plan kicks in. Those plans — which require deductibles of at least $1,350 for an individual and $2,700 for a family — are increasingly popular as employers scramble for solutions to control rising benefits costs.

Don’t get me wrong: HDHPs are a good solution for employers struggling to keep premiums affordable for their workers. In fact, Mercer’s 2017 National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans found that 46% of employers planned to take steps to reduce cost growth this year, such as offering lower-cost, high-deductible health plans.

The problem is HDHPs increase the potential financial exposure for employees. Milliman’s 2017 Medical Index found an average family has more than $4,500 in out-of-pocket medical costs each year. And more than half (55%) of Americans say they’ve received a medical bill and didn’t have money set aside to pay it, according to a 2017 Ipsos/Amino poll.

Accidents happen. A lot.

The National Safety Council reports every 10 minutes, nearly 750 Americans — 39 million people every year — suffer an injury severe enough to seek medical help (Injury Facts, 2017). Active families with children in sports are especially vulnerable to the rising costs of medical treatment for injuries. That hits pretty close to home for Graem Clark, one of the top accident insurance producers in the country for Colonial Life.

“I have three young boys who are extremely active,” Clark says. “I tell my story and really connect with other parents about the fact that kids are going to get injured over the years.”

The top causes of sports-related injuries treated at the ER include football, basketball, soccer and bicycle riding, according to the National Safety Council. Even plain-old “exercise” makes the top-five list. Clearly, anyone, young or old, could suffer an accident at any time.

“It’s one of the most affordable benefits employees can purchase,” Clark adds. “It’s a product most employees can envision themselves having a need for at some point in the future.”

No wonder accident insurance is an increasingly popular employee benefit. Eastbridge Consulting Group reports sales leapt nearly 40% from 2013 to 2017, now accounting for $1.1 billion in premium.

As a voluntary benefit, it’s a great fit for all kinds of employers, too — even those with less-robust medical plans — because it can help fill gaps in coverage with no direct cost to your clients. Employees who want the coverage select it and typically pay for it themselves through convenient payroll deduction.

Find the right balance for you and your clients.

Choosing the best accident provider for your clients involves much more than spread-sheeting premiums. Keep these factors in mind when evaluating different accident plans and partners to work with:

1. Strong benefits paid

Look for competitive benefit amounts for common procedures.

2. Guaranteed issue

This means all employees qualify for coverage, with no health questions asked.

3. Flexible plan designs

This allows your clients to choose the level of benefits they want to make available to their employees, and whether coverage is for accidents both on and off the job, or only away from work.

4. Additional benefits

Some plans include a health screening benefit or hospital confinement benefit for a covered sickness for expanded options.

5. Family coverage

Employees can choose to cover themselves as well as their spouse, children or whole family.

6. Group and individual platforms

Each has advantages, so you can offer your clients the best fit with a single carrier.

7. Compatibility with health savings accounts

Since accident insurance is a good fit for clients with high-deductible health plans, it’s important the voluntary coverage is HSA-compliant and not subject to Affordable Care Act market reforms.

8. Excellent customer service

Be sure to choose a partner with a reputation for outstanding claims and customer support.

Bringing your clients accident insurance helps them provide their employees the important financial protection they need — and creates a much better-balanced benefits package.

— Read 3 Ways to Make ACA Uncertainty Lemonadeon ThinkAdvisor.


David Polen (Photo: Colonial Life)David Polen is a director of product and market development at Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Company.