Majority of Young Adults Do Not Carry DI

Survey: Over a Quarter of Today’s Workforce Will Require It

Disability Insurance Awareness Month Highlights Need For Employees and Employers to Be Prepared for Unexpected Illness or Injury

NEW YORK–()–Today’s 20- and 30-somethings place a high value on their ability to earn an income, but most have not taken any steps to protect this asset if they’re unable to work due to illness or injury, according to a survey undertaken by LearnVest and The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America (Guardian).

Only 35% of the young adults surveyed for Life and Disability Insurance: What 20- and 30-Somethings Think own a disability insurance policy through work or on their own, compared to 57% who have life insurance. Among the two-thirds who have not sought out any sort of income protection, the main barriers cited were cost (25%) and the belief that they don’t have any physical risks at their jobs to warrant such a purchase (21%).

According to the Social Security Administration, more than one in four of today’s new entrants to the workforce will experience an income-disrupting disability at some point in their careers. Yet less than half (47%) of survey respondents have an emergency fund in place should they need to leave the workforce.

The Council for Disability Awareness (CDA)’s 2012 Long-Term Disability Claims Review cites the most common causes for disability as muscle, back and joint disorders (such as having a herniated disc or sciatica), spine and nervous system-related disorders (such as MS or epilepsy), cardiovascular and circulatory diseases (such as hypertension) and cancer.

Risks are difficult to convey to an ‘invincible’ audience

“It’s difficult to convey the risks associated with disability – especially to young people, who may feel they’re invincible,” said Lawrence Hazzard, Vice President of Product Strategy at Berkshire Life Insurance Company of America, the Guardian company that issues individual disability income insurance. “The word ‘disability’ leads many to think of catastrophic injuries, but more often disability means having back problems, being temporarily sidelined as you recover from cancer, or even battling depression. Being taken out of the workforce for one of these issues – even for a relatively short time – can have lifetime consequences without the proper income protection in place. Workers need to take the initiative to protect that asset throughout their working lives, especially when you consider the tremendous investments they’ve made for the sake of gainful employment.”

The Guardian-LearnVest survey revealed that nearly nine out of 10 (89%) young adults have no firsthand experience of a friend or family member who has received a disability benefit – a significant barrier to reaching a generation that tends to rely more heavily on anecdotal information from friends or family (39%) in making insurance purchases than it does from professional advisors (19%).

In addition to helping employees protect their paycheck, Guardian offers employers Guardian AbsenceWorksSM, an absence management program supported by Reed Group, a recognized absence management service industry leader and Guardian subsidiary. Regardless of whether an employee leave is disability and/or Family Medical Leave Act related, employee absences can create a huge toll in productivity, morale and costs for both large and small employers in addition to leading to significant legal and compliance issues. Guardian helps employers reduce the complexity and unwanted impact of employee absences by providing solutions that can help decrease costs while ensuring workplace productivity and compliance for its customers.

“The research with LearnVest shows that younger workers feel strongly about the value of their work, leading employers and employees alike to have a shared goal of getting back to work as soon as possible,” said Ray Marra, Vice President, Group Products at Guardian. “The result of more employees getting disability insurance with employers having absence management programs is a more productive lifestyle for the employee and improved productivity for companies. Addressing the issue of disability insurance awareness is a win-win.”

Survey Methodology

The survey sample consisted of 797 respondents 21-40 years of age with an annual household income of more than $30,000. Respondents were divided into four age groups, each of which represents 25% of the sample. Each age group was further weighted so the male/female balance was 50/50. Of the 797 respondents, 190 were current LearnVest subscribers who were recruited via e-mail from the company database. Responses were collected online via a 25-minute survey conducted between October 10 and October 21, 2012.

About Guardian

A mutual insurer founded in 1860, The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America and its subsidiaries are committed to protecting individuals, business owners and their employees with life, disability income and dental insurance products, and offer funding vehicles for 401(k) plans, annuities and other financial products. Guardian operates one of the largest dental networks in the United States, and protects more than six million employees and their families at 115,000 companies. The company has approximately 5,000 employees in the United States and a network of over 3,000 financial representatives in more than 80 agencies nationwide. For more information about Guardian, please visit

About LearnVest

LearnVest is a unique personal finance platform that combines accessible content, best-in-class online tools and, through its subsidiary LearnVest Planning, provides high-quality, fee-based financial advisory services delivered by Certified Financial Planners™. LearnVest Planning, a registered investment advisor, is redefining the traditional financial planning market with a dynamic, technology-enabled service that gives clients nationwide constant access to financial experts. Since launch, LearnVest has raised more than $25 million in venture financing (led by Accel Partners) and has been awarded numerous accolades, including one of Time’s 50 Best Websites of 2011 and back-to-back Best of Show awards at FinovateFall 2011 and 2012. For more information about LearnVest, please visit