The unsteady stock market, broad job cuts and falling home values have made for a tense, sometimes scary, year. In this time of economic uncertainty, we hear a lot about the importance of savings and managing expenses. Often overlooked, however, is the role employee benefits play in protecting the financial stability of workers and their families.

Among the statistics in Unum™s (NYSE: UNM) 2008 Buyers Study that indicate the importance of having the right benefits protection:

  • One half of all bankruptcies are attributed to illness, injury and associated medical bills
  • With the personal savings rate now at or below zero, few workers have savings to fall back on in a medical emergency
  • Critical illness and supplemental health insurance have shown the greatest growth in voluntary benefits

The combination of benefits enrollment season and the difficult economic news we are all seeing every day means these issues are very much on the minds of workers and their employers, said Mike Simonds, Unum™s senior vice president of marketing and product development. Benefits are critical to helping protect financial stability when workers have seen the value of their savings and their homes decline.

Unum™s 2008 Buyers Study combines information on economic and demographic trends with proprietary Unum sales data to examine buying patterns and changes in employee benefits needs. In addition to offering information and insight on these developments, the study provides solid guidance on making the most of benefits offerings and providing coverage options employees will understand and value.

As employers seek to offer the benefits their workers need, it puts pressure on their already tight budgets, Simonds said. The Buyers Study offers insight into ways funding flexibility and voluntary benefits options allow employers to offer better benefits at work.

The Buyers Study includes data on the need for employers to balance budget concerns and also provide benefits their employees will value:

  • Health care costs are among the top cost pressures identified by CEOs
  • Short term disability benefit sales by Unum shifted from 19 percent employee-funded to 55 percent employee-funded in five years
  • Nearly 650,000 companies in the US already sponsor at least one voluntary benefit, allowing 82 million American workers access to these benefits

Unum introduced the Buyers Study in 2006, establishing a baseline for evaluating the effect of today™s trends on employee benefits plans. The 2008 study continues that work, tracking the latest developments and forecasting changes that will continue to alter the benefits landscape.

A copy of the 2008 Buyers Study is available in the reference materials section of the newsroom at Unum.com. Copies of the study can be requested through http://www.unum.com/buyerstudy/learnmore.aspx.

About Unum

Unum (www.unum.com) is one of the leading providers of employee benefits products and services in the United States and the United Kingdom. Through its subsidiaries, Unum provided more than $6 billion in total benefits to customers in 2007.

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