Benefiting You

Are you prepared for a July 4th “trip”?

What’s on tap for your Independence Day week? Maybe a visit to the beach, hiking in the mountains, lighting a few fireworks after your backyard cookout?

Sounds like a holiday filled with fun … and potential pitfalls.

Not to rain on your parade, but July Fourth holiday is one of the deadliest in America. Why? Travel, for one. AAA estimated 44.2 million Americans traveled 50 miles or more away from home for the holiday in 2017, with another record expected this year.

Let’s add some alcohol to the mix: The Fourth is the number one holiday for beer sales. No surprise there’s a spike in traffic-related injuries (and fatalities).

And those bottle rockets get their share of blame for accidental injuries. Fireworks were involved in an estimated 11,100 injuries treated in emergency rooms in 2016 — more than half of those in the four weeks surrounding July 4. Hands, faces and eyes all come in the line of fire when fireworks are handled improperly. Those cute sparklers you give the little kids? Um, yeah, they burn at 2000 degrees (no, there’s not an extra zero in there). Check out the Consumer Product Safety Commission for tips on fireworks safety.

If the “oohs” and “ahs” of your holiday celebration turn to groans of pain, accident insurance can soften the blow.

It pays benefits to help with the costs of an unexpected injury, such as a sprain, dislocation, fracture, cut or burn. The payments go straight to you to use however you need: to pay out-of-pocket medical expenses or other costs not covered by insurance, such as transportation or even a babysitter while you go to medical appointments. Usually your benefit payments aren’t reduced by other coverage you may have.

Speaking of other coverage, bear in mind even the best medical plan will likely leave you with out-of-pocket costs when an accident happens. Consider that the average emergency room visit costs more than $2,000.

“If you’ve got a high-deductible health insurance plan, you could be stuck paying the entire bill out of pocket,” says David Polen, director in product development at Colonial Life. “For most of America’s workers, there’s a significant gap between an unexpected medical bill and what they have on hand in savings for emergencies.”

You may be able to get accident insurance at work as a voluntary or supplemental choice in your benefits package. If not, ask your HR department to offer it. As a voluntary benefit, the employees who want the protection typically pay for it themselves, so there’s no cost to your employer.

“You can drive carefully, have a designated driver and leave the fireworks to the professionals, but you still can’t prevent every accident,” Polen says. “Accident insurance can help keep a mishap from also becoming a financial disaster for your family.”

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