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Unum's new disability insurance allows conversion to long term care insurance

UnumProvident Corp. is offering a unique disability product that allows for flexible coverage changes, including a built-in option to convert the policy's income protection benefit to long term care insurance.

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The "Income Series" provides policyholders with a choice of three packages: Income I, Income II, and Income III.

Each package contains income replacement and return-to-work benefits, as well as the option to transform the product into long term care insurance when the owner is between the ages of 60 and 70.

For customers looking for the highest degree of income protection, Income III provides total disability benefits for the entire benefit period if the policyholder is unable to continue to work in his or her profession, even though he or she is able to work in an alternative occupation.

Policyholders will be able to move from one package to another as their needs change.

According to Unum Vice President Rick Magro, policyholders will be able to move from one package to another as their needs change, while keeping the cost and, in some cases, the underwriting advantages of purchasing core coverage at an early age.

For example, if the Income Series I policyholder elects to convert from disability to long term care insurance after age 60, the core benefit of $100 a day for nursing home care ($50 a day for home health care) is guaranteed issue. This means there are no additional medical underwriting requirements.

However, upgrades — such as raising the daily benefit — are subject to additional underwriting.

The Income Series is being marketed to customers between ages 30 and 40, according to Magro. Premiums are tied to income. For a 35-year-old male earning $100,000 annually, Income I would cost approximately $1,250 per year, he says. The cost would double for the same policy for the same individual at age 50, to approximately $2,535.

Disability insurance is crucial, Magro says, as medical advances allow people to live longer. Also, illness and injury are more likely to prevent people from working than to cause death. The average American has a 30 percent chance of experiencing a work-stopping disability lasting three months or more before retiring, according to The Society of Actuaries, which provides research for the disability industry.

Unum began offering the new product on Oct. 2. It is now approved for sale in 41 states and the District of Columbia.

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