From the September 2004 issue of Entrepreneur

The average American worker has a 1 in 3 chance of becoming disabled for 90 days or more during his or her working years. So it makes sense to include disability insurance in your benefits package.

"With the majority of Americans living paycheck to paycheck, three months or more without pay may mean missing mortgage payments or struggling to keep food on the table," says Richard Mucci, executive vice president of Simsbury, Connecticut-based Hartford Life Insurance. "The most important asset people have is the ability to earn an income. It's an important asset to protect."

Offering disability as a benefit-even if the employee pays part or all of the premium, as is typical at many companies-will help you attract and retain good workers, Mucci says. Also, most disability policies include a return-to-work component, which means that, in addition to protecting the employee's income, the insurer also helps the employee get back to work. That assistance could include vocational training for the worker or aid for the employer in making accommodations to allow the worker to return to his original position.

Group disability is surprisingly affordable. "Generally, for as little as $180 per year, somebody could protect 60 percent of their income," says Mucci. Plans that cover a higher percentage naturally cost more. But whatever you choose, Mucci says, "It's better to have some type of program than no program."


Jacquelyn Lynn is a freelance business writer in Orlando, Florida.