published Sunday, July 15th, 2012

Unum covers summer scrapes; accident rate rises in summer

The Unum headquarters in downtown Chattanooga.
The Unum headquarters in downtown Chattanooga.
Photo by John Rawlston.
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Nearly everything dangerous that people do, they do more of it in the summertime.

Cliff jumping, off-roading and even grilling burgers can result in more injuries. It's just a matter of numbers.

In winter, those who sit inside by the space heater playing video games have much less of an injury risk than summer mountain bikers riding through Tennessee's hills, according to Chattanooga-based Unum.

The insurer says it sees a 20 percent jump in accident claims for emergency room visits for fractures, lacerations and follow-up treatments during warm weather.

Unum also covers death and dismemberment.

In the past two years alone, Unum has paid out 15 percent more in claims during summer than any other time of year, said Debbie Cecil, director of product development.

"While no one can predict how or when an accident will occur, indviduals and families can be financially impaired by one, even if they have solid medical insurance," Cecil said.

The company has paid more than $40 million for more than 56,000 accident claims in the last five years, according to company figures.

It's natural for an insurance company employee to push the idea of buying insurance, but Cecil says it makes more sense than ever at a time when many Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.

"These medical events can really drain a family's bank account," she said.

On the other hand, a family with accident insurance can get a lump sum payment to "soften the financial impact of these types of incidents," she said.

According to the Eastbridge Consulting Group, accident insurers like Unum saw sales in the workplace increase 14 percent in 2011. Unum has grown its own accident sales about 20 percent in each of the past four years, according to a news release.

"Some of the most common accident claim payments we see include emergency room services, follow-up treatments, doctor visits, fractures, hospital services and physical therapy," Cecil said.

The company began offering benefit plans in March that give employers "multiple benefit level choices," allowing the elimination of some benefits or an increase in others.

about Ellis Smith...

Ellis Smith joined the Chattanooga Times Free Press in January 2010 as a business reporter. His beat includes the flooring industry, Chattem, Unum, Krystal, the automobile market, real estate and technology. Ellis is from Marietta, Ga., and has a bachelor’s degree in mass communication at the University of West Georgia. He previously worked at UTV-13 News, Carrollton, Ga., as a producer; at the The West Georgian, Carrollton, Ga., as editor; and at the Times-Georgian, Carrollton, ...

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