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Disability Income Insurance: What Everyone Needs to Know before buying an Individual Disability Policy

Have you taken steps to protect yourself in case of a sudden disability that prevents you from working?  The right disability income policy can help you keep your household going if you suffer a disability. Before you go shopping for a DI policy, you need to know what features to look for in a high quality policy--and the language the insurance industry uses to describe them.

• Non-cancellable: To avoid the possibility of losing your coverage just when you need it most, choose a policy that's non-cancellable and guaranteed renewable to age 65--with premiums also guaranteed until age 65. With group (employer sponsored) or association group coverage, you run the risk of being dropped and left unprotected at a time in your life when, due to your age or to a change in your health, it would be very difficult to qualify for coverage from another provider.

• Conditionally renewable for life: Although premiums may increase after age 65, your policy should be guaranteed renewable for life, as long as you are at work full time.

• "Own-occupation": This coverage defines "totally disabled"--and therefore eligible for benefits--as being unable to perform the material and substantial duties of your own occupation even if you are working in a different occupation. As a highly skilled professional (a doctor for example), who has invested so much in education and training, you want to ensure you have genuine own-occupation that for example, even if you can teach in your field--but cannot practice in your medical specialty--benefits are still paid.

• Residual Disability coverage: Through a rider, a good individual DI plan can provide you with protection against the income loss you may suffer as a result of partial (residual) disability--even if you have never suffered a period of total disability.

A choice of "Riders": Riders offer optional additional coverage such as annual Future Increase Options, Automatic Increase and Cost of Living Adjustments.

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