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Disability insurance plays key role in providing financial protection for new moms and their families, Unum says

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Millions of working women will celebrate Mother’s Day this weekend with a new baby cradled in their arms, but only 10 percent of these women will be receiving maternity benefits through short term disability leave.

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that about 4 million babies are born each year, with two-thirds born to mothers in the workforce. About half of working mothers will have some form of paid maternity leave that may include use of vacation or sick time, but more than 40 percent of new working mothers won’t receive paid leave.

Short term disability benefits enable working mothers to enjoy paid leave, but the coverage is only used in about 10 percent of maternity leaves, according to the Census Bureau.

As a leading provider of group disability benefits in the U.S., Unum (NYSE:UNM) sees a significant number of maternity claims. Nearly 28 percent of its group short term disability claims are maternity-related. For the youngest generation in the workforce, maternity claims represent 64 percent of short term disability requests.

Unum’s claims experience and benefits research points to some important trends:

  • Over the past 10 years, the average age of Unum’s maternity customers has increased from 30.9 to just over 31.5. (The national average age of all first-time mothers – working or not – is 26 years, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control.)
  • Paid leave covered by short term disability averages six to seven weeks. New mothers may take additional unpaid leave as available under the provisions of the Family and Medical Leave Act.
  • Just 26 percent of working women are enrolled in a short term disability plan at work, according to a national survey that Unum recently conducted with a sample of American workers.

“We see firsthand the importance of this benefit to working women,” said Andy Gibson, vice president of short term disability for Unum. “The reality is, however, most working women aren’t protected by short term disability coverage and this can leave their families exposed to financial risk as they step away from work to care for a newborn.”

When polled in December 2014 by an independent national research firm for Unum’s annual study of US workers, half of working women (50%) said they were not confident they have enough savings to cover a period of time out of work.

“Short term disability insurance provides a new mom the financial security she needs so she can focus on her new baby, her recovery and returning to work,” said Gibson.


Unum is a leading provider of financial protection benefits through the workplace. The disability insurance leader in the U.S. for 38 years, Unum’s portfolio of financial protection products also includes life, accident and critical illness, which help protect millions of working people and their families in the event of an illness or injury. In 2014, Unum paid $5.6 billion in benefits to more than 525,000 individuals and their families.

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