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What Is Aflac Insurance?
If you’re a football fan, you probably know Aflac from its trivia questions during TV broadcasts or from the Nick Saban commercials. Or you’ve seen commercials featuring the quacking Aflac duck. You probably even know Aflac is an insurance company.
But what type of insurance company?
Founded in 1955 in Columbus, Georgia, the American Family Assurance Company of Columbus, Aflac for short, is the best-known provider of supplemental insurance — especially payroll deduction insurance through employers. Aflac has an A+ rating from A.M. Best, a credit rating agency for the insurance industry.
Aflac also sells some of its supplemental insurance products directly to individuals.
What Is Supplemental Insurance and How Does It Work?
So Aflac revolves around supplemental insurance. What is that, exactly?
Supplemental insurance is designed to work alongside your primary insurance coverage to fill in gaps. For example, if you get injured or sick, your health insurance policy might not cover everything, or you may not get paid if you're not working.
Some kinds of supplemental insurance offer only very specific coverage: If you’re diagnosed with cancer, cancer insurance would pay you a cash benefit.
But there’s a wider range of payout options. If you suffer a stroke, maybe you want an up-front lump sum or maybe you want smaller payments as you go through therapy.
Money expert Clark Howard says supplemental insurance is not a scam, but he thinks that getting good health, life and disability insurance is a much bigger priority.
There are competitors in the supplemental insurance market, but Aflac is the leader.
Aflac’s Insurance Products: Through Work vs. Direct Purchase
|Insurance Type||Available Through Employer||Available for Direct Purchase
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The majority of Aflac’s business runs through employers. You pay for an Aflac insurance policy via a payroll deduction. In other words, the money comes out of your paycheck much like payroll taxes.
However, you can buy some types of policies directly through Aflac.
Pulling directly from the Aflac website, the company says it “pays cash benefits to help pay for things that major medical [insurance] may not cover.”
The website features a cost calculator designed to illustrate expenses you may face, even if you have health insurance, if you suffer certain medical conditions or injuries.
Aflac’s biggest selling point is that it will provide you a cash payout if those specific things were to occur.
Keep in mind that you cannot buy insurance from Aflac that will cover expenses resulting from all illnesses or injuries.
Even the screenshot of Aflac’s cost calculator shows some of the payout for a broken leg coming from accident and hospital insurance (which you’d have to pay for separately), and the calculator indicates that the Aflac payout would not cover your entire out-of-pocket expense.
Aflac Review: Where It Shines
Here are some of Aflac’s positives:
- Guaranteed-issue policies. Many of Aflac's products require no medical exam.
- Payouts as fast as 24 hours. If you file a covered claim through Aflac's "smartclaim" process, you can receive a payout in as little as one day.
- Domain expertise. Other companies sell supplemental insurance. But Aflac may be the only big insurance company that has supplemental coverage as its primary focus. I don't know how this benefits you concretely. But I'd almost always rather buy from a company that specializes in a certain product than one that sells it as a throw-in, especially if I have questions.
- Group insurance. One of the main benefits of any type of insurance you get through your employer is that it allows for more evenly distributed rates. Those who are older or who have pre-existing conditions may pay exorbitant rates or might not have access to coverage at all if they were to apply individually.
- Can lessen the financial blow in negative situations. If you get hurt or sick and incur expenses not covered by your primary health insurance, you may get a timely, helpful payout from Aflac. It's important to have an emergency fund for these types of situations, but if you don't, a payment from Aflac could help you out during a stressful time.
Aflac Review: Where It Falls Short
Here are some of Aflac’s negatives:
- Products may not be needed. There's a good chance you don't need any of Aflac's insurance policies, especially if you have good health, life and disability insurance policies. According to Clark, supplemental insurance is "not a rip-off and it's not a scam. But it's such a low priority that you've got to have everything else already in place in your life before you would buy a narrow form of insurance."
- Annoying sales tactics for individuals. If you request a quote directly through Aflac's website, make sure to pay attention to the fine print. It says that by clicking "submit," you agree to receive auto-dialed calls and texts from Aflac, independent contractors associated with Aflac and at least three specific companies "working at Aflac's request" — which, presumably, is to convert you into a paying customer. Also, you can't find any price details on Aflac's website.
- Less than ideal complaint score. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners keeps track of official complaints filed against insurance companies. Aflac scored 1.01 on the NAIC scale, meaning that its customers issued formal complaints at a slightly higher rate than expected. It's worth noting that almost all of the best term life insurance companies score less than 0.2.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with buying Aflac insurance or buying supplemental life insurance in general.
Just remember that it should be a very low priority. You should make sure that you’ve got appropriate health, life and disability insurance before even considering supplemental insurance.
It’s also crucial that you understand what you’re purchasing if you elect to purchase supplemental insurance. For example, critical illness insurance may cover only two or three specific illnesses.
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