The majority of single Americans lack the basic safety net of disability insurance and would be hard hit financially by an unexpected health issue that kept them from working, according to a new study.

“The Hartford Benefits For Tomorrow Study” found that 87 percent don’t have enough savings to get through a financial hardship and of that group only 44 percent have insurance to help them, which means 56 percent do not have coverage.

“These numbers suggest that people are not prepared to replace their income in the event of a disabling event,” said Laura Marzi, assistant vice president of group benefits at The Hartford. “Disability insurance is not an alternative to having three to six months of living expenses saved but the idea is that in the absence of being a good saver, your paycheck is also compromised.”

Only 28 percent of Americans completely understand disability insurance, according to the annual study. To raise awareness and increase disability coverage among American workers, The Hartford is launching a new flexible disability product.

“It offers flat dollar amount payouts of between $200 and $800 dollars a week and no evidence of injury or illness is required,” Marzi told Insurance Networking News. “Consumers can choose their start date as well as how long the duration of coverage will last.”

Although in reality it only costs $300 to $400 a year for both long- and short-term disability, 45 percent of survey participants overestimated the cost of short-term disability insurance by hundreds of dollars and another 45 percent said they had no idea how much the coverage costs.

As May is Disability Insurance Awareness Month, The Hartford is trying to educate the underinsured. “As we get to enrollment season, we will be clarifying through our marketing efforts just how inexpensive short and long term disability is,” said Marzi who added that for the price of a cup of coffee a day single Americans can purchase both long- and short-term disability insurance at competitive rates in the workplace.

In the national poll, singles who don’t have disability insurance were asked what they would do if they could not work for six weeks or more due to a disability. About 36 percent said they would live off of their savings, 23 percent would withdraw from their 401(k), 8 percent would use either credit cards or bank loans while 5 percent said they would rely on a loan from a friend or family member compared to 4 percent who said they’d move in with family, parents, brother or sister.

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