A startup insurance company is now offering coverage to unemployed individuals in Michigan.
SafetyNet, which is headquartered in Wisconsin, is part of a large organization called Cuna Mutual. It recently entered the Michigan market with the intent to provide insurance coverage to individuals who are laid off, as well as those who are sick or injured and can no longer perform their job duties for at least 30 days.
Michiganders can access this service by paying into the program on a fixed monthly premium that ranges from $5 to $45 for a total payout of $1,500 to $9,000. If an unfortunate event occurs, members can then benefit from the program by receiving a lump sum of what they paid into the program.
“A lot of Americans are living on the financial edge (who) would struggle to weather a big financial storm such as a loss of a job or not being able to work and collect a wage,” said Mark Greene, SafetyNet’s director of innovation and product development.
According to the Department of Technology, Management and Budget’s Michigan Regional Labor Market Report for June 2018, the unemployment rate in the metropolitan areas of Kent, Ottawa, Barry and Montcalm counties are slightly up.
In June 2018, the jobless rate in those counties was 3.3 percent, 19,500 people were unemployed, 568,800 were employed and the labor force was 588,300, which includes people who are employed and those who are looking for jobs.
In May 2018, the jobless rate was 2.9 percent. At the time, 586,600 people were in the labor force, 569,500 were employed and 17,100 people were unemployed.
In the metropolitan areas of Muskegon County, the jobless rate increased a bit.
The unemployment rate was 5.1 percent, 79,800 people were in the labor force, 75,700 people were employed and 4,100 people were unemployed in June 2018.
In May 2018, the jobless rate was 4.5 percent, 78,600 people were in the labor force, 75,100 people were employed and 3,600 individuals were unemployed.
The unemployment rate for Kent, Ottawa, Barry and Montcalm counties are low compared to the state’s 4.3 percent and the nation’s 4.2 percent in June.
Tim Mroz, vice president of marketing and communications at The Right Place, said West Michigan’s economy is continuing to grow and companies are investing in the region. He said the economic development organization has completed 18 projects this year, which is a part of its three-year strategic economic plan that included providing jobs in manufacturing, food processing and agriculture, business, IT, and life sciences and medical devices.
Jacob Maas, chief executive officer at West Michigan Works!, an association that connects employers with potential employees, said they served about 2,500 unemployed individuals across the region in June.
Greene said SafetyNet does not interfere with other unemployment benefits that people may qualify for. There is a lifetime cap of $24,000 individuals can receive for one disability claim and one unemployment claim per year, according to Greene.
“People in Michigan know firsthand what it is like to lose a job, when you go back to the financial crisis of 2008 when Michigan was hit very hard,” Greene said. “So, a lot of folks in Michigan have told us that they can benefit from our services.”