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How to buy Disability Insurance

Before purchasing your own long term disability insurance, get quotes on several different policies to compare premiums and cost. After you buy, you have a free-look period when you should read your policy carefully, and get a refund if there are too many limitations. Have an agent go over the policy with you or contact the company if the language is too complicated. Usually it won't be profitable for you to have both a long term disability through your work (if you are an employee) and your own indivdual policy. Many plans have clauses deducting payments from any other disability policies. Insurance companies don't want you to have more incentive to get hurt than to work! Also important is to find out if there is a discretionary clause in your contract to determine if the insurance company can arbitrarily conclude they do not want to pay you.

What types of individual disability insurance plans are available
  • Conditionally renewable - Premiums can go up and your coverage canceled in the event any conditions stated in the policy are triggered.
  • Guaranteed renewable - Premiums can be raised so long as the change affects an entire category of occupations, policyholders, etc.
  • Non-cancelable - Premiums are fixed over the term of the policy. The insurer cannot jack up the rates, decrease your benefits, cancel or refuse to renew the policy.

Is my company required to provide me with disability insurance?

Usually not unless disability insurance is part of an employer-sponsored health plan.

Do disability policies cover both accident and sickness?

Possibly, depending on if your policy covers both disability due to an accident AND accident. Examine your policy to see if it differentiates between accident and sickness.

Do I need disability insurance if my employer already has worker’s compensation?

Worker’s compensation only covers you if you are hurt on the job or in a job-related activity

What are examples of "exclusions" and "limitations"?

An example of an exclusion in a disability policy would include an on the job injury, a non work related sickness, an intentionally inflicted injury or injury while committing a crime. A limitation would include a waiting period before your disability insurance takes effect or the time period any pre-existing conditions will be disregarded.

How do I find out what is covered in my disability policy?

If you have a health plan through an employer, you should review the insurance contract or plan agreement, employee handbook, summary, brochure or other type of evidence of coverage. You want to know specifically: What is covered, how much time lapses between the disability and your first benefit check, how much total income you will receive if disabled, the length of payments, and if your disability is reduced by social security or state disability payments. Also find out the date you are actualy insured.
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