Disability Insurance: Beyond the Virus

A number of factors drive growing employee and employer interest in this protection
Apr 20, 2021 10:00 AM ET

By Len Strazewski

“The pandemic is definitely driving awareness of disability insurance and other supplemental insurance products,” says Bob Ruff, senior vice president of growth solutions at Aflac. “Individuals are seeking more ways to provide income replacement in the face of COVID-19 illness and other medical issues.”

According to LIMRA, the insurance industry research group, one in four employers said they view short-term disability as a more important benefit due to COVID-19 and 22% of employers said they view long-term disability as a more important benefit due to COVID-19.

Other contributors

The virus is an obvious source of concern as the country responds to the medical and economic damage it has caused, but Ruff points out that non-COVID-19 causes also contribute to the desire for disability benefits.

“There’s a growing population of gig, freelance or contract workers who have an expanding need for income or disability support,” he says. “This has led the industry to find ways to balance the need for this support with the risk.”

The growing need for disability insurance predates the pandemic, but the rapid increase in COVID cases increased the demand with new demographics, some of which are not linked directly to illness.

Aflac’s own research confirms the trend, Ruff says. According to the 2020-2021 Aflac WorkForces Report, about   28% of U.S. employees say they have more than one job or gig—including part-time, freelance or contract work—and of those, 27% say the reason for having multiple jobs is to have access to employer healthcare benefits.

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