Financial wellness is a focus for many millennials and members of Generation Z as they come into their own in the workforce. However, this financial savvy can lead many to forego any extra expenses that might stretch their budget, including optional benefits like accident insurance. The fact is that accidental injury is the leading cause of death for this age group, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
As a union leader, it's important for you to educate your younger members on their risk for accidental injury, including the financial impacts of being uninsured.
Knowing the Risks of Accidental Injury
Many unionized jobs are part of high-risk industries, such as construction or transportation. Millennial and Gen Zer members may be aware of some of the more common risks before they begin the work: Car crashes, for example, are one of the most common causes of serious injury. So, if members are often on the road — say truck drivers, service technicians or delivery persons — they're at heightened risk.
Even if a member who's injured outside of the job has health insurance, the extra costs from an accidental injury like a car, cycling or boating accident can quickly add up.
These costs might include high health insurance deductibles — potentially adding up to several thousand dollars between an ambulance ride, surgery and follow-up care — and bills that pile up if the member takes time off from work to recover.
Annual major medical insurance deductibles can run as high as $10,000, according to Investopedia. Many younger members' may not have adequate savings to fall back on in case of an accident. In fact, CNBC reports that just 40% of Americans could afford a sudden $1,000 expense.
How Accident Insurance Can Help
Accident insurance pays out a lump sum to members if they experience a covered injury, typically including a dislocation, laceration, concussion, fracture, burn, or a dental or eye injury. More severe injuries typically have higher payouts.
Insurance for accidents supplements other coverage like health and disability insurance. For example, if a member has an injury that health insurance doesn't cover, accident insurance might still benefit them.
Members may feel protected by other benefits, but if they receive an injury that doesn't keep them out of work, disability insurance will not apply. Similarly, workers' compensation insurance, which covers injuries that happen on the job, does not cover injuries from outside of work. Accident insurance can be extremely useful in these scenarios.
Accident insurance, which is relatively inexpensive, could cover the bulk of medical expenses resulting from an injury for a low monthly cost — many times less than $20 a month for young and healthy members. That monthly budget item could help keep an injured member's savings largely intact.
Educating Your Members
To better educate your members on how accident insurance can protect their finances, consider hosting a seminar or presentation that discusses the risks of potential accidents and how to safeguard not just their physical but financial health.
Perhaps you have a member who's been in this unfortunate situation themselves before and would be willing to speak to their peers during a union meeting about their own experience with or without accident insurance. Otherwise, consider including scenarios in your union newsletter, or bring the issue up during open enrollment periods or financial literary events you may have planned throughout the year.
For members who decide to add accident coverage, encourage them to learn exactly how their plan works. By understanding the specific costs, terms and exclusions of the benefit, your younger members will be prepared if an accident does happen.