What Voluntary Insurance Do I Need?

Voluntary Benefits

Weekend Workouts Gone Wrong: Not Just Your Body Gets Hurt

By Loretta Waldman

Average recovery time from rotator cuff surgery is four to six months.

Seriously? Yes, seriously, according to the National Institutes of Health.

That estimate includes the time you’ll need for post-surgical physical therapy and the four to six weeks you’ll need to wear a sling, according the agency’s National Library of Medicine.

That could be a problem if you have a full time job. Between the surgery itself and rehab, that could add up to a significant amount of time away from the office. What might have been no big deal in your college days is suddenly a source of concern. And if the diagnosis were more dire – say cancer – the implications could be worse.

Before you go searching for an app for that, you may want to consider purchasing additional insurance coverage your employer offers as a voluntary benefit. This a’ la carte coverage – typically offered by an employer but paid for by the employee – affords an extra layer of protection beyond what’s provided by the health and life insurance you may have as part of your basic benefits package.

The comparatively low cost of these benefits makes them a great value. And while the scope of coverage varies with each voluntary benefit, all of them help protect you, your loved-ones and assets against a loss of income resulting from an accident, injury, serious illness, or even death.

Short-term Disability Insurance, for example – the type you might use after rotator cuff surgery – would maintain the income you rely on to pay for things like your mortgage and other monthly bills should you be unable to work. The coverage applies to illnesses and injuries that occur outside of work, like the game of basketball you were playing the weekend you tore your rotator cuff. Maternity leave, runner’s knee, whiplash, carpal tunnel syndrome and tennis elbow are among the other conditions covered by STD insurance.

Other voluntary benefit options include:

  • Long-term Disability Insurance (LTD) covers non-work related injury and illness of longer duration. Sprains, strains, heart attack, back pain and scoliosis are some commonly covered conditions. Others may include pneumonia, pregnancy complications and rheumatism.
  • Critical Illness Insurance (CI) offers a way to help employees protect savings during treatment and recovery from a critical condition such as cancer, heart attack, transplant or other major illnesses.
  • Life Insurance helps protect the financial futures of those who depend on your paycheck.
  • Accident Insurance helps protect against the financial burden that accident related costs can create.
  • Accidental Death and Dismemberment Insurance (AD&D) provides a lump sum payment in the event of a covered accident. This coverage helps protect you from the financial consequences of an accident.

While it might be tempting to take your chances rather than bear this added cost, statistics show that may not be a wise approach. Just over one a quarter of today’s 20 year-olds will become disabled before they retire, according to the Council for Disability Awareness, a non-profit education and advocacy group.

A healthy, non-smoking 35-year-old woman, has a 24 percent chance of becoming disabled for three months or more and a 38 percent chance that the disability will last five years or longer, the CDA statistics show. A healthy, non-smoking male the same age runs a 21 percent chance of being disabled for three months or more and the same 38 percent chance of being disabled for five years or longer.

That’s not to say you should quit playing pick-up basketball, just consider that investing in voluntary benefits may help you gain the peace of mind you need to really enjoy it.