Accident Insurance for Less than $1 a Month

Financial assistance in the event of accidental death or major injury

Personal accident insurance can help provide for loved ones in the case of an accident.

Peace of mind.

That's what Jane Walbrun purchased when she enrolled in Duke's Personal Accident Insurance program 20 years ago.

"It's good to know that if I die or am permanently disabled in an accident, there will be a large lump sum of tax-free money coming my way to help with expenses," said Walbrun, associate director of benefits for Duke's health plans.

Accidents are the leading cause of death in the U.S. for people under 45. As one of Duke's voluntary benefits, personal accident insurance provides financial assistance in the event of death, dismemberment or total disability as a result of an accident. Under the plan, varying levels of payment are offered if an accident causes death, permanent disability, loss of a limb, or loss of speech, hearing or vision. Death or injuries from illness, suicide, military service or natural causes are not covered.

Currently, slightly more than 5,100 Duke staff and faculty participate in the program, which can be purchased to cover a spouse or same-sex partner and children under age 19 (or 23 if they are unmarried and a full-time student).

To enroll in the program, employees purchase a minimum of $50,000 of protection, which costs 90 cents per month. They can increase the sum by buying additional coverage at 18 cents for every $10,000 of coverage, up to a limit of 10 times an annual salary (up to $750,000).

Employees who want to cover a spouse, same-sex partner or dependents pay 30 cents per month for each $10,000 of coverage.

Saundra Daniels, benefits plan manager for Duke, said how much insurance to purchase is a personal decision that depends on other insurance an individual carries and how financially vulnerable the individual or his or her family would be after an accident.

"People often use this insurance as a way to purchase additional life insurance at a very low cost, because the price doesn't increase with age," Daniels said.

Walbrun said she added the insurance to her financial planning because the cost was unbeatable.

"I figured buying extra protection for my family for less than the cost of a trip to the movie theater each month was too good of a deal to turn down," she said.