By Cyril Tuohy
Seeing opportunity in the growing voluntary benefits market, Aflac announced it has introduced a rider to enhance coverage on new or existing voluntary accident, hospital or disability plan coverage.
Aflac’s Plus Rider is also designed to help protect policyholders from the rising cost of co-insurance and co-payments tacked on to their employer-sponsored major medical coverage.
“There's no substitute for being prepared for the unexpected," J. Keith Pellerin, vice president of product management and innovation at Aflac, said in a news release.
Plus Rider is designed to fit most budgets “because people are in need of an additional layer of coverage when life-changing events happen and things like car payments, utility bills and mortgage payments still need to be made,” he said.
Aflac said the rider will be able to reduce out-of-pocket expenses associated with serious accidents and illnesses, including heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, traumatic brain injury, sustained multiple sclerosis, advanced Alzheimer's disease and advanced Parkinson's disease.
Policyholders with a qualifying illness receive cash benefits and the rider is “guaranteed-issue,” where applicants for the rider don’t have to answer any medical questions.
A Tier One critical illness — a heart attack, stroke, brain injury or cardiac arrest, for example — triggers a cash benefit of $5,000 payable once per covered person, per lifetime, the company said. A subsequent Tier One critical illness triggers a cash benefit of $2,500, the company also said. The rider covers 15 Tier One illnesses or disabilities.
A Tier Two critical illness — encephalitis, cerebral palsy, Lyme disease or cystic fibrosis, for example — triggers a cash benefit of $1,250 payable per covered person, the company also said. The rider covers nine Tier Two illnesses, the company said.
Coronary artery bypass also offers $1,250 payable once per lifetime, the company said.
The voluntary market is a bright spot in a slow-growth life insurance market suffering from low interest rates.
Premiums generated by the sale of voluntary and worksite products reached $6.64 billion, up 10.1 percent from $6.03 billion in 2012, according to Eastbridge Consulting Group, and life insurers have been quick to capitalize on the growth by offering more voluntary products.
Voluntary benefits are paid for 100 percent by the employee through a payroll deduction. They are offered in addition to major medical coverage for which the employer and the employee contribute toward the premium.
As employers continue to shift the burden of paying for benefits onto employees, interest in voluntary benefits has increased.
Cyril Tuohy is a writer based in Pennsylvania. He has covered the financial services industry for more than 15 years. Cyril may be reached at [email protected].
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