Accidents can break your wallet as well as your bones


Accidents can break your wallet as well as your bones

Hallelujah! The weekend is coming up and you’ve got plans. Maybe it’s a run on that new trail you’ve been wanting to try, a soccer game for the kids, yard work you’ve been putting off or driving across town to meet friends for dinner.

What’s not on the list? A trip to the emergency room.

But accidents happen — more often than you might think. And they’re more expensive to treat than you might believe. The Centers for Disease Control reports 40 million Americans a year suffer an injury severe enough to visit an emergency room. Ready for the tab? The average emergency room visit now costs more than $2,000 — 40% more than a month’s rent for most people.

(By the way, hiding out at home may not help. The number of distracted walking injuries — mostly involving cell phones — has risen dramatically in the past decade. Most of those accidents happened at home.)

When accidents happen, they’re often followed by a series of bills.

“Even with good health insurance, out-of-pocket expenses including co-pays or co-insurance, deductibles, ambulance charges and emergency room fees can add up quickly,” points out Steve Hesler, accident product expert at Colonial Life. You also might have other nonmedical expenses, such as child care, or transportation if you can’t drive. And if you lose income because you can’t work, that adds to the financial pinch.”

This is where accident insurance can help.

Accident insurance provides lump-sum and daily benefits for covered accidents that can help you pay those bills. The payments are sent directly to you, and you can use the money for whatever you need. And most accident insurance plans don’t “coordinate” with your other insurance. That means your payments aren’t reduced by any other insurance you have.

Many employers offer accident insurance as part of their benefits package on a voluntary basis. That means employees who want this protection select and pay for it themselves, with no cost to the company. If your or your spouse’s employer doesn’t offer accident insurance now, you can ask them to add it.

Buying accident insurance at work is usually very affordable. For example, a policy that provides coverage for just you as the employee for accidents outside of work costs less than $5 per week (costs may vary by state). A two-parent family can purchase this same coverage for less than $8 weekly. If you pay the premiums through payroll deduction, where the cost is deducted from your pay before taxes, your net cost can be even less.

So go ahead and enjoy your weekend. But, ahem, you may want to put the cell phone down while taking your walk.