Monday, July 20, 2020

Do I Need Disability Insurance? Pt 1

In the world of life and health insurance sales, one product is considered to "undersold" more than others, and that product is disability insurance (DI). Sometimes known as "disability income" coverage, DI is usually sold by agents who work in the worksite or payroll deduction market, such as Aflac, Colonial Life and others who sell benefits in the workplace. These companies typically have a participation minimum, such as 3 or 5 employees having to buy the product, as well as caps as to how much they will pay out.

Then there are agents like myself who work with individual clients, mostly business owners, contract employees or otherwise self-employed people, who don't have access to the previously mentioned companies. Also, many of these people actually have an income that is above average and need higher benefit amounts.

Whether you have access to DI through an employer or not, the question remains: Do you need it? To answer that, we need to ask one more question: Do others depend on your income? Is your income needed to pay the bills, pay off debt, pay for utilities or groceries? Is your family dependent on your income to provide for educational expenses or transportation? 

When I talk to prospective clients I always ask what their number one asset is. They usually say something along the lines of their home, their business or even their car. (One lady told me it was her sparkling personality.) None of those answers was correct. Their number one asset was their ability to earn a living. Without that, they could not pay for the house, or the car or fund their business. 

Our income provides us with the ability to eat, enjoy TV and generally live indoors. I don't know about you, but I enjoy my air conditioning and hot water. 

The premise of DI is clear, but getting a policy can be a little more difficult than life insurance. Both are underwritten on the basis of your age and health, but DI is also underwritten on the basis of the type of work you do and your income. The safer your job, the lower your premium. A real estate agent will generally have a lower rate than a welder. Certain professions are very difficult if not impossible to insure, such as roofers. 

On a sidenote, I once had a client apply for a policy who liked to fly small airplanes. The insurance carrier actually had me complete an additional form for this avocation as I was a bit concerned. After not hearing back for a few days I called the underwriter to get a decision on whether or not the policy would be issued. The nice lady said, "If we were selling life insurance to this guy, I'd be concerned, but with the kind of plane he's flying, I'm not too worried about it." I asked if she thought it was a safe plane and she said, "No, but if he crashes he won't survive to be disabled." 

Sometimes income is verified when the application is taken but I have had occasions when it was verified during a claim. Either way, the insurance carrier will usually ask for a copy of tax returns. This can vary depending on the insurance company. 

In the next post we will look at how much coverage you should look into applying for and a few other nuances of DI. In the meantime, run a quote for yourself. In the upper right corner of this blog is a calculator that will give you a ballpark estimate of what a policy may cost for you. All rates are subject to underwriting, but at least you'll have an idea. Stay healthy and I hope you subscribe and share with your friends. 

Chris Castanes is the president of Surf Financial Brokers, helping people find affordable life and disability insurance coverage. He's also is a professional speaker helping sales people be more productive and efficient and has spoken to professional and civic organizations throughout the Southeast.

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