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Sheriff’s deputies lead fight for group disability insurance

The availability of employer-provided long-term disability insurance is something that many people take for granted. However, in one Alabama county, sheriff’s deputies are having to fight for insurance that will cover them if they are injured while acting off duty.

As one officer noted, “When I go home, I’m still a deputy sheriff….I still have to act when I see something.” However, the long-term disability insurance that is there for them during their on-duty hours may not be available if they are hurt while acting in a law enforcement capacity off duty. The same is true if they have a second job such as a security guard. As one county official explained, “Unless the accident takes place in the official scope of their job, it may not be covered if it’s anything after hours.”

The issue is being brought up as the county-provided short- and long-term disability coverage is set to end on June 1 for all county employees. The county cites cost and lack of participation as the reasons. Employees have already been paying for the coverage without contributions from the county since 2012.

The sheriff’s office is asking the county commission to cover the cost of this insurance, which would amount to close to $60,000 annually. In a split vote, the commission turned down the proposal. As one commissioner who voted for the proposal put it, “If we are in a bind so that we can’t find $4,900 a month to take care of our employees’ long-term disability potential needs, then we need to close up because we are not doing a good job.”

Now the sheriff says his office will try to find a way to cover his employees’ disability insurance rather than having them pay for it themselves. He says the insurance is a “worthy benefit” and that it’s important to “provide that stability for our employees.”

Most of us are not called on to fight crime during our off-hours (or our working hours, for that matter). However, no one of knows when an injury or accident might occur that could keep us out of work and in need of medical care for a long period of time. That’s why disability insurance is so important. Even if your employer does not provide group disability insurance, people should consider the costs and benefits of having a policy in case the unthinkable happens.

Source:  al.com, “Baldwin County deputies plea for disability insurance turned down” Thyrie Bland, Apr. 16, 2014

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