Say "insurance" to most people and auto, health, home, and life are the variants that spring to mind. But what if an illness or accident were to deprive you of your income? Even a temporary setback could create havoc with your affairs. And statistics show that your chances of being disabled for three months or longer between ages 35 and 65 are almost twice those of dying during the same period.
Yet people with financial savvy often overlook disability insurance. Perhaps they feel adequately covered through their job benefits. However, such coverage can be woefully inadequate. The fact is, most individuals should consider disability insurance in their financial planning. To get the right coverage for you, take the following steps:
- Scrutinize key policy terms. First, ask how "disability" is defined. Some policies use "any occupation" to determine if you are fit for work following an illness or accident. A better definition is "own occupation," whereby you receive benefits when you cannot perform the job you held at the time you became disabled.
- Check the benefit period. Ideally, your policy should cover disabilities until you'll be eligible for Medicare and social security.
- Determine how much coverage you need. Tally the after-tax income you would have from all sources during a period of disability and subtract this sum from your minimum needs.
- Decide what you can afford. Disability insurance is not inexpensive. Plan to forgo riders and options which boost premiums significantly. If your budget won't support the ideal benefit payment, consider lengthening the elimination period (but be sure that accumulated sick leave, savings, etc., will carry you until the benefits kick in).
Ask your insurance agent about the options available to you.