Unum finds more than half of U.S. workers forgo disability insurance, leave income at risk

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CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (Sept. 11, 2020) — More than half (55%) of U.S. workers don’t protect their income with disability insurance. Seven out of 10 Baby Boomers also forgo this coverage, [1] despite being more likely to need it. This generation makes up nearly half (47%) of all long term disability claims,[2] according to internal claims data from Unum (NYSE: UNM), a leading provider of disability insurance.

“People are more likely to protect their homes, phones, or cars than their most important asset: their income,” said Chris Pyne, executive vice president of Group Benefits at Unum. “But without a paycheck, they likely wouldn’t even have these other assets.”

As for why people lack the protection, a third of workers (33%) say they’re healthy and don’t need it, 29% say they can’t afford it, 11% don’t see the value in it, and 10% don’t know what it covers.1 Of those who had to file a disability claim within the past five years, 99% were glad they had disability coverage.

Workers have a one in four chance of suffering a disability before they retire, according to the Council for Disability Awareness.[3] Today, those chances could be higher with nearly 6 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of August 2020.[4] The unpredictable coronavirus pandemic underscores the need for disability protection.

Disability insurance replaces a portion of a worker’s income if they are sick or injured and unable to work. It typically replaces 60 to 70% of an employee’s paycheck, depending on the policy, and is usually the most affordable when purchased through the workplace.

“Choosing your benefits and deciding to enroll in disability insurance is one of the most important financial decisions you’ll make in a year,” Pyne added. “It’s a safety net should you get sick or injured and not be able to work and earn an income.”

For more information on disability insurance, including common drivers of disability, tips and best practices for HR professionals in managing disability within their workforce, download a disability guide at unum.com/disability-guide-2020.

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[1] Unum “Consumer Disability Study” (2020) August 2020, administered by Dynata among 1,000 working U.S. adults and 400 working U.S. adults who filed a disability claim within the past five years.

[2] Unum, Internal claims data, 2019

[3] Council for Disability Awareness, "The Crisis of Disability Coverage in America" (2018), https://disabilitycanhappen.org/disability-statistic/ accessed August 2020

[4] Center for Disease Control & Prevention “Coronavirus Disease 2019: Cases in the U.S.” (2020)

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About Unum Group

Unum Group (NYSE: UNM), an international provider of workplace benefits and services, has been helping workers and their families for 175 years. Through its Unum and Colonial Life brands, the company offers disability, life, accident, critical illness, dental, vision and stop-loss insurance; leave and absence management support and behavioral health services. In 2022, Unum reported revenues of about $12 billion and paid $8 billion in benefits. The Fortune 500 company is one of the 2023 World’s Most Ethical Companies, recognized by Ethisphere®. 

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