Sunday, May 10, 2015

3 Reasons Why You Should Get Disability Insurance

May is Disability Insurance Awareness Month. Many people do not have adequate insurance coverage including disability insurance. Disability insurance is used if you have a short-term or long-term medical condition that prevents you from working and ensures that you still continue to receive a paycheck. Many people go into debt due to medical bills or health issues and some are forced to file bankruptcy or lose their home to foreclosure. One of the main reasons people file bankruptcy is due to medical debt.

You should have a separate disability insurance policy even if you have disability insurance with your job to cover costs that may not be covered by your job policy or if you become unemployed. The most recognized disability insurance company is AFLAC.  Most top insurance companies offer disability insurance such as MetLife, Mutual of Omaha, State Farm and Prudential.

Disability insurance is a form of protection against income loss of income and should provide enough to reimburse for loss of income. You are considered disabled if you cannot perform your occupation. It depends on your situation but most employees can get disability coverage for the cost of approximately 1% to 3% of their annual salary.

You may not see the immediate benefit of buying disability insurance now but in the long run you will be glad you did. Here are 3 benefits to having disability insurance:

1.      Can be used to reimburse income loss
2.      Protects against or prevents a financial crisis
3.      Saves you money in the future

There are 2 main types of disability insurance: short-term and long term.  Short-term disability insurance is used if you are unable to work because of a non-work related injury or illness or pregnancy and replaces part of your income. Short-term disability benefits last up to 26 weeks and usually pay 60% of an employee’s salary.

Long-term disability is defined as being unable to perform your occupation for 2 years. Long-term disability insurance commences once short-term disability ends and provides up to 70%-80% of an employee’s salary with a maximum benefit which varies by employer.  The benefit usually covers an individual for up to 24 months. If you currently have disability insurance get a free analysis of your existing coverage to see if you have the right amount of coverage.

When buying disability insurance it is best to comparison shop and get at least 3 price quotes. You can search the Better Business Bureau website for companies and view their reliability report or do a search on the internet for various companies and look for any complaints.

Purchase disability insurance with the same company you currently have policies with to save money as a bundled package. If you purchase an individual plan compare the coverage offered and the length of the elimination period. Questions to consider before purchasing disability insurance:

  • Do you have an emergency fund to cover your monthly bills and expenses for 9-12 months?
  • Is your savings is marked for a long-term financial goal and cannot be used for any other purpose.
  • You owe large amounts of debt or pay monthly payments that have large balances such as mortgage, car, credit cards, etc.
  • You are the sole bread winner in your family.
  • You will be laid off soon or will lose benefits or income soon.

You can purchase disability insurance on your own which have higher premiums and vary by company and state.  Your employer provided disability payments will be reduced if you receive Social Security disability benefits, Worker’s Compensation benefit, veteran’s benefits and disability benefits from another employer. Employer plans are for non-work related disabilities but may not cover all employees and require meeting certain qualifications such as hours worked per week, length of employment, etc. The longer your length of employment the more paid sick leave you will receive. In California employers must pay up to 52 weeks of short-term disability.

Unfortunately when you leave an employer your disability insurance policy does not transfer. However, some companies offer the option of purchasing an individual plan usually at a much high premium.  Benefit payment periods can range from 2 years to lifetime. But an individual plan will stay with you for as long as you keep the plan and the benefit payment is not reduced by additional benefits received such as Social Security. Purchasing an individual disability policy will protect your savings and assets and prevent you from incurring additional debt.

High Limit Policies
If you earn 6 figures or more some companies offer high limit disability policies. Disability policy benefits normally pay a maximum of $25,000 each month. A High Limit Disability policy pays 65% of income regardless of your salary and ranges from $2,000 to $100,000 per month. This type of policy is a supplement to existing disability coverage.

Business Owners
Business owners should purchase disability insurance especially if their business is designated as a sole proprietor or if they are a key asset in running the day-to-day operations of their business. A key person disability insurance policy provides benefits to protect the company from financial hardship that may result from the loss of a key employee due to a disability. The policy provides cash flow to help a company remain stable and continue to grow and defrays any future business costs.

A Business Overhead Expense policy provides reimbursement for overhead expenses if the owner becomes disabled. Benefits include paying: accounting, billing, business insurance premiums, business rent or mortgage payments, utilities, leasing costs, laundry, maintenance, collection service fees, employee salaries, employee benefits, property tax, and other monthly expenses.


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