ST. PAUL, Minn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Securian Financial is proud to provide critical illness insurance to Minnesota’s more than 22,000 firefighters under a comprehensive, state-funded wellness program developed by the Minnesota Firefighter Initiative (MnFIRE).
The MnFIRE Hometown Heroes Assistance Program, funded by an annual $4 million appropriation from the state, provides physical and emotional well-being support to Minnesota firefighters to help them stay healthy. Authored by Senator Jeff Howe (R-Rockville) and Representative Cheryl Youakim (DFL-Hopkins), the legislation creating the program received strong bipartisan support and was signed into law in 2021 by Minnesota Governor Tim Walz. An extension of the program was passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor in May 2022.
Under a key provision of the Hometown Heroes Assistance Program, all active firefighters in the state—full-time, part-time and volunteer—are automatically enrolled in a critical illness insurance policy underwritten by Securian Life Insurance Company. The insurance, available free-of-charge to firefighters, provides up to $20,000 in benefits upon diagnosis of cancer, cardiac disease or other critical illnesses, as defined in the policy. Firefighters can use the funds to cover expenses not covered by their major medical insurance, or however they wish.
“We are proud to team up with MnFIRE to make critical illness insurance available to all the brave men and women in our state who put their lives on the line for us every day as firefighters,” said Amy Hennessey, a Securian Financial regional vice president.
According to research conducted from 2010 to 2015 by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), firefighters have a 9% higher risk of being diagnosed with cancer and a 14% higher risk of dying from cancer than the general U.S. population.1
“This insurance is much-needed financial protection for our firefighters, who are diagnosed with critical illnesses like cancer at alarmingly high rates,” said Wayne Kewitsch, MnFIRE’s executive director. “We thank Minnesota government leaders for funding this insurance and the entire Hometown Heroes Assistance Program, which is the first of its kind in the country.”
The Hometown Heroes Assistance Program is already having an impact. Christian Worby, a 42-year-old Coon Rapids, Minn., firefighter, was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a blood cancer, shortly after the program became law. Worby has used the funds from his critical illness insurance policy to help pay for his major medical insurance deductible, which he’s maxed out, gas to travel to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., for weekly appointments, along with accommodations while away from home receiving treatment.
“This program has allowed me and my family to focus on my treatment rather than worry about our finances due to the cancer diagnosis,” said Worby. “It’s great having the extra financial support. It’s an extra safety net. It’s an expensive deal having a major illness.”
Critical illness insurance on the rise
Employee benefits broker Aon recently reported strong year-over-year growth in supplemental health benefits, life critical illness insurance, offered by their employer clients—with heightened interest during the COVID-19 pandemic driving demand. Employee participation in critical illness insurance benefits offered by Aon clients increased from 16% in 2021 to 27% in 2022.2
Additionally, fourth quarter 2021 critical illness insurance premium increased 11% over the same period in 2020.3
A group insurance leader
Securian Financial, headquartered in downtown St. Paul, Minn., offers group life, accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D) and supplemental health benefit products to employers nationwide. The company specializes in large public and private employer plans with 1,000 or more participants. Since issuing its first group life insurance policy in 1917, Securian Financial—through its subsidiaries, Minnesota Life Insurance Company and Securian Life Insurance Company—has grown to become the third-largest direct writer of group life insurance in the United States.4 The company is the top provider of group life insurance to state governments, 16, and has an extensive list of Fortune 500 employer clients, including 18 of the Fortune 100.5