Like most people, you may have life insurance to help protect your family against the financial impact of your unexpected death. You may also insure your home, car, and other personal possessions against financial loss resulting from fire, theft, or damage. However, you may have overlooked insuring one of the more important aspects of your financial life—the ability to earn an income.
Thinking the Unthinkable
Have you ever contemplated how long the combined resources of you and your spouse might last if you were suddenly out of work due to a disability? What long-term impact would exhausting your savings during a disability have on your ability to provide for your family and even yourself during your retirement years? If those resources provide less than your monthly expenses, including taxes and regular savings, or if exhausting them would significantly impact your ability to provide for yourself and your family on a long-term basis, you may need disability income insurance. Whether you need an individually owned policy depends on the extent of your liquid assets, your spouse’s income, and other potential sources of disability income, such as employer-sponsored group disability insurance, Social Security, and veterans or union benefits.
Depending on your income and the risk level of your occupation, the maximum coverage you can buy will generally replace 45% to 75% of your pre-disability earnings. The higher your income, the lower the percentage of replacement benefit may be. Typically, premiums will depend on your age, your health, the risk level of your occupation, and the type of coverage.
Examine Policy Provisions
To make sure your disability income insurance offers the protection that you and your family need, your policy should include the following:
- A definition of total disability that is consistent with the risk of your occupation. You may also want to look for a policy that pays some benefits in the event you are not totally disabled, but you suffer a “loss of income” due to a disability. Often these provisions are called partial or residual disability provisions.
- A non-cancelable clause that states the insurance company cannot cancel the policy or increase the premium until a certain age (as specified in the policy).
- Benefits that are payable for the maximum amount of time for which you are eligible based on your occupation and health. Most often, you can find policies that provide benefit eligibility for two years, five years, or all the way until you reach age 65, or even payments beyond 65 for the rest of your life.
- A waiting period that is consistent with your overall financial resources. The waiting period is the amount of time you must be disabled before becoming eligible for disability benefits. The longer the waiting period you choose, the lower the premium on your policy will be. Typically, you may purchase coverage that provides eligibility for benefits after 30 days of disability or for as long as after two years of disability.
Now is the time to investigate the relative benefits and costs of disability income insurance to determine how much you need to spend to attain adequate protection. In addition, it is important to review the particular details and provisions of the policy you are considering with a qualified professional to help ensure your financial needs will be met.
Copyright ã 2010 Liberty Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved.
This article appears courtesy of Karl Susman. Karl Susman is a representative of the New Engl and Life Insurance Company. He focuses on meeting the individual insurance and financial services needs of people on the West Coast. You can reach Karl at the office at (424) 785-4337. New Engl and Life Insurance Company, 501 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116