CHATTANOOGA, Tenn.--In response to a rapidly growing voluntary benefits market, UnumProvident has announced enhancements to its critical illness and individual short term disability insurance products. The specified critical illness insurance now includes the option of base or enhanced coverage. Base coverage features a benefit payout for heart attack, stroke, permanent paralysis, kidney failure, organ transplant or coronary artery bypass surgery. Enhanced coverage includes all conditions listed under the base plan, plus an additional benefit if diagnosed with cancer. Enhancements also include increased benefit amounts for covered children, and, for eligible employee groups, the first $10,000 in coverage is guaranteed-issue (some restrictions apply).

A new five-year benefit period tops the list of enhancements to the individual short term disability insurance, which also includes a new optional rider that covers mental illness. The product also adopts an industry-based rate structure and follows a streamlined underwriting process, making the sale and set-up of such coverage easier for brokers. The voluntary worksite market is one of the fastest-growing market segments, increasing by more than 10 percent each year, according to a 2003 report by LIMRA International.

As employers battle rising medical coverage costs, voluntary benefits that are offered through the workplace can help companies enhance their existing benefits package at little or no cost to them. "Voluntary benefits provide a tremendous opportunity for employers to balance the need for benefit cost containment with their need to attract and retain a high quality workforce," says Neiciee Durrence, vice president, voluntary workplace benefits. "These products enhance UnumProvident's array of supplemental employee benefits, and help our corporate clients offer a customized, competitive and affordable benefits package to their employees."

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