Number of Working Canadians Who Need Time Off for Disability on the Rise

Yet disability coverage is on the decline, leaving Canadians at financial risk

  • A majority of working Canadians (68 per cent) have some experience with taking time off work due to disability, yet, only half (50 per cent) have disability coverage either through workplace benefits or personal insurance they’ve purchased, which is a significant 5-point downturn since 2018.
  • The study also found that 67 per cent of working Canadians agree there would be serious financial implications if their disability impedes their ability to work for three months; despite this, less than half (43%) have had discussions with their family about how they would handle the financial impact of not being able to work for three months or more.
  • Most Canadians believe that support from family/friends (92 per cent), having proper financial assistance (91 per cent) and workplace support (87 per cent) are all critical when suffering or recovering from a disability.

Toronto, ON (May 28, 2019) – The majority of working Canadians (68 per cent) have some experience with time off work due to a disability, whether for themselves or a family member, or they know someone who has taken a disability leave. Moreover, the number of Canadians who need time off work due to a disability is on the rise, yet disability coverage continues to decline, according to a recent RBC Insurance survey.

The study found that half (50 per cent) of working Canadians say they would have liked to have taken time off work for a disability but felt they couldn’t afford it, up 5 points from 2018. Despite the increase, the number of Canadians who have disability coverage either through their workplace benefits or personal insurance that they’ve purchased declined by 5 points from 55 per cent in 2018, leaving half of working Canadians without any disability coverage at all.

“It’s troublesome to see an inverse trend between the number of Canadians who need to take time off for a disability, and those who have the coverage in place – or the finances – to do so,” says Maria Winslow, Senior Director, Life & Health, RBC Insurance. “With half of the working population without disability coverage, many Canadians are exposing themselves to financial risk.”

When faced with the possibility of becoming disabled and unable to work for three months, two-thirds (67%) of working Canadians agree there would be serious financial implications for them and their family. Despite this acknowledgement, less than half (43%) have had discussions with their family about how they would handle the financial impact of not being able to work for three months or more.

“Being off of work for a disability can have serious consequences affecting one’s financial situation, including having insufficient funds to cover regular living expenses such as your mortgage, bills and even groceries,” explains Winslow. “It’s important that Canadians talk with their family and take action so they are prepared for future financial implications of not being able to work.”

Support is critical

Most Canadians believe that support from family/friends (92 per cent), having proper financial assistance (91 per cent) and workplace support (87 per cent) are all critical when suffering or recovering from a disability. Yet, among those who indicated they took time off for their own disability, more than half (56 per cent) say they were forced to go back to work earlier due to financial reasons (up 5 points from 2018), and nearly as many (45 per cent) say they were forced back earlier because they were pressured to by their workplace, which is a significant increase from last year (33 per cent).

Tips to consider when discussing finances and being off work due to a disability:

  • Investigate the coverage you have through your employer plans. Understand how the plan defines a disability and what is and isn’t covered. If you need additional coverage talk with an insurance professional.
  • Understand your personal finances and how much income you need to cover monthly expenses.
  • Set aside an emergency budget to help you through at least three months of living expenses.
  • If you need support, talk with friends and family and ask about employee assistance programs at work.
  • The ideal time to bring up this conversation is when you are reviewing and discussing your annual financial goals.

About the Survey

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between April 9th to 11th, 2019. For this survey, a sample of 1,501 employed Canadians aged 18+ was interviewed. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ±2.9 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.

About RBC Insurance

RBC Insurance® offers a wide range of life, health, home, auto, travel, wealth, annuities and reinsurance advice and solutions, as well as creditor and business insurance services to individual, business and group clients. RBC Insurance is the brand name for the insurance operating entities of Royal Bank of Canada, one of North America’s leading diversified financial services companies. RBC Insurance is among the largest Canadian bank-owned insurance organizations, with approximately 2,900 employees who serve more than five million clients globally. For more information, please visit rbcinsurance.com.

Source: RBC Insurance via RBC Corporate Communications

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