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Research from CFA-Unum: Employees want disability coverage, and they’re willing to pay for it

The power of disability benefits to protect the financial stability of individuals and families was vividly clear in hundreds of interviews with beneficiaries conducted by the Consumer Federation of America and Unum in 2013. And in 2012, a CFA-Unum survey exposed the fragile financial safety net for working Americans and their lack of awareness and understanding of how disability insurance can support them.

The CFA-Unum research over the past two years sends a strong message: Employees want this coverage, and they’re willing to pay for it.

In 2013, we asked long-term disability beneficiaries questions about access to this type of financial protection:

Nearly all beneficiaries – 95 percent – said they would encourage other people to get disability insurance through their employers, and nearly 60 percent said their disability benefits made them feel more favorable about their employer.
A large majority - 85 percent - agreed that employers should automatically enroll new employees in disability insurance, allowing them to opt out of this coverage if they did not want it.
A large majority of beneficiaries - 87 percent - said that employers should do a better job of explaining disability insurance. And 85 percent agreed that government should inform the public about the risk of becoming disabled and its financial impact.1

The 2012 study found that when employees are provided with more information about disability income protection insurance, their opinions are overwhelmingly clear:

9 out of 10 said they wanted their employer to offer it at work
9 out of 10 said it was “personally important” to them to have it, and
56 percent said they would pay the entire cost for coverage, and 86 percent said they would pay half of the premium cost.2

One-third of our nation’s workers have access to disability insurance at work, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.3 This means that approximately 75 million workers are without access.

Benefits providers, consultants and employers have a tremendous opportunity to expand the availability of disability coverage, and it’s a win-win goal. Group disability benefits are available now with a wide range of funding options, from employer-pay-all plans, to blended funding arrangements, to those group voluntary options that won’t cost employers a dime. At a time when benefits dollars are so stretched, group voluntary with auto enrollment may be something to consider so that employees get the coverage they want and need.

For more information about the wide range of disability plan designs available, contact your Unum representative.

1Consumer Federation of America and Unum, Employer-Sponsored Disability Insurance: The Beneficiary’s Perspective (2013)
2Consumer Federation of America and Unum, Employee Knowledge and Attitudes about Employer-Provided Disability Insurance (2012)
3Bureau of Labor Statistics, “National Compensation Survey: Employee Benefits in the United States, March 2013” (accessed Sept. 30, 2013),