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Employee Concerns About Contracting Serious Illnesses Spark Interest in Personal Insurance Products

COLUMBIA, S.C., Oct. 28 /PRNewswire/ -- A large majority of working Americans covered by insurance are concerned about themselves or someone in their family being diagnosed with cancer, heart disease or another serious illness. In addition, a majority of working Americans covered by insurance are interested in buying a personal insurance policy to help with the medical expenses resulting from a serious illness. According to a recent nationwide survey of 1,067 full-time employees covered by health insurance conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Company*:

-- 84 percent of employees surveyed say they're concerned that they or someone in their family will be diagnosed with cancer, heart disease or another serious illness in the future.

-- 71 percent of employees surveyed say they're interested in buying personal insurance products at work, in addition to their current health insurance policy, to help cover expenses for cancer or other serious illnesses.

"It's clear that employees don't think health insurance alone is enough to cover the costs of medical treatment for serious illnesses," says Tom Gilligan, senior vice president of marketing and branding at Colonial Life. "Rising health care costs are forcing employers to cut back on benefits, increase major medical deductibles and pass more costs on to employees. As a result, employees have more financial risks for medical expenses, and they're ready to consider additional coverage to fill the gaps."

Employees are concerned that they or someone in their family will be diagnosed with cancer, heart disease or another serious illness in the future. The survey breaks employee results down by gender, region of the country and age groups:

-- Gender. Women (89 percent) are more concerned about contracting a serious illness than men (79 percent). However, among employees age 55 and older, the gender difference narrows with 91 percent of men and 87 percent of women saying they're concerned.

-- Age groups. There seems to be no major differences between the various age groups, with responses ranging from 81 to 89 percent of employees saying they're concerned about contracting a serious illness.

-- Geographic regions. Employees in the Northeast express the highest concerns (88 percent) with employees in the West expressing the lowest concerns (78 percent).

Employees are interested in buying personal insurance products (or voluntary benefits) at work, in addition to their current health insurance policy, to help cover expenses for cancer or other serious illnesses.

-- Gender. 74 percent of women and 69 percent of men say they'd be somewhat interested, interested or very interested in buying personal insurance products at work to help cover expenses for a serious illness.

-- Age groups. The breakdown among employees by age group shows strong interest in buying personal insurance products at work to help cover expenses for serious illnesses: 18-34, 76 percent; 35-44, 76 percent; 45-54, 66 percent; and 55+, 64 percent.

-- Geographic regions. Employee interest in buying supplemental insurance at work to help cover expenses for serious illness is high in all regions: West, 74 percent; Northeast, 73 percent; South, 72 percent; and Midwest, 67 percent.

Typically, businesses provide core group benefits for their employees, such as health insurance, basic life and long-term disability. However, with employer-provided group coverage, employees who leave the company lose the coverage. Personal insurance -- such as hospital confinement, accident, critical illness or cancer plans, disability coverage and life insurance -- is individual insurance that complements a company's core benefits. "Employees can choose the additional coverage they need and pay for it themselves, or the employer can pay for it," Gilligan says. "Either way, employees own the individual polices they select and can generally keep them if they leave their employer."

With personal insurance products, businesses can enhance their benefits program at little to no direct cost to the company. "A one-size-fits-all approach to benefits no longer works," says Gilligan. "Each employee has unique coverage needs, and our survey shows that employees would like to be able to choose additional benefits. Smart companies will want to learn more about how personal insurance products can strengthen their benefits program and help employees get the coverage they want and need."

Survey Methodology

Harris Interactive(R) fielded the study on behalf of Colonial Life from July 31 through Aug. 4, 2008, via its QuickQuery(SM) online omnibus service, interviewing a nationwide sample of 2,889 U.S. adults aged 18 years and older, of which 1,067 were employed full-time and enrolled in an employer-provided/spouses' health insurance plan. Data were weighted using propensity score weighting to be representative of the total U.S. adult population on the basis of region, age within gender, education, household income, race/ethnicity, and propensity to be online. No estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated; a full methodology is available.

* Survey, Harris Interactive and Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Company, July 31 - Aug. 4, 2008.

About Colonial Life

Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Company is a market leader in providing insurance benefits for employees and their families through their workplace, along with individual benefits education, advanced yet simple-to-use enrollment technology and quality personal service. Colonial Life offers disability, life and supplemental accident and health insurance policies in 49 states and the District of Columbia. Similar policies, if approved, are underwritten in New York by a Colonial Life affiliate, The Paul Revere Life Insurance Company. Colonial Life is based in Columbia, S.C., and is a subsidiary of Unum Group.

For more information about supplemental insurance, call Colonial Life at (803) 798-7000 or visit .

About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is a global leader in custom market research. With a long and rich history in multimodal research that is powered by our science and technology, we assist clients in achieving business results. Harris Interactive serves clients globally through our North American, European and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms.

For more information, please visit .

SOURCE Colonial Life
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