According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 4 Americans (27%) are currently disabled. While this may not seem surprising, a more alarming figure is that about 60% of those aged 16-64 are unable to work as a result. While it is generally understood that coming down with an illness or suffering an injury may result in needing to take a few days – or even a few weeks – off from work, no one ever expects to be out of work for an extended period of time on a disability-related leave. The reality is, however, that this is quite common, as there is a significant chance of becoming disabled within one’s lifetime.
A sudden loss of income due to a disability can happen to anyone, and it is important to be prepared. Being prepared can look different for everyone but typically involves securing a Disability Insurance (DI) policy. Despite providing income replacement, disability insurance is often seen as a less important benefit than its counterparts, including health and medical insurance. But with the reality that disability can happen to anyone, DI is becoming increasingly more important. As disability insurance becomes more common, policies have adapted to meet the evolving needs of today’s employees. This has resulted in an increase in disability insurance satisfaction, more than ever before.
An increase in satisfaction with disability insurance
Individuals unable to work due to a disabling condition can supplement their loss of income through a workplace-issued or personal DI policy. In addition, individuals with the most severe conditions or who are expected to be out of work for at least one year may replace some of their income with Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, should they meet the strict definition of disability established by the Social Security Administration.
Overall, individuals who have acquired a DI policy report being in a better position to weather the storm of a disabling event than those relying on SSDI benefits alone. According to a recent survey by AHIP, 90% of respondents (current or former DI claimants in the past ten years) said they were highly satisfied with their DI policy, with a strong majority (84%) saying it gave them peace of mind while they were out on disability leave. Since the survey was first initiated in 2017, these numbers have increased steadily, where 86% reported satisfaction with their long-term policy through their employer and 89% for short-term disability.
With ongoing pressure caused by inflation, it’s not surprising that DI policyholders’ satisfaction has increased. While respondents to the survey said they appreciated the short-term financial security their policy offered, it was also important to them that they could continue to care for their family when out on disability leave.
Room for improvement
While financial protection and stability are highly valued, DI insurers have room to improve when assisting claimants return to work. According to respondents, a slight majority – 55% – felt their disability insurance provider was helpful in the return-to-work process. This number is down several percentage points from last year’s number (62%). Despite satisfaction with disability insurance, addressing this gap should be a high priority. Not all workers expect to remain out of work until they retire, so restoring their ability to work and generating adequate income as soon as feasibly possible is imperative.
Insurance providers and third-party administrators who may need assistance to support their return-to-work efforts can find support from our team of seasoned claim consultants. We can help identify areas of improvement in the claim process and work to integrate necessary changes into your organization. Additionally, we can provide direct return-to-work support as part of the Ticket to Work program to those receiving SSDI benefits.
With customer satisfaction highly valued as a key performance indicator for insurers’ performers, this data serves as a strong reflection of the importance and value of DI insurance. Contact Brown & Brown today to see how we can best support your organization in this crucial area.