This is the season when we start opening windows and cleaning out the garage, getting rid of all the old stuff that’s been hanging around since the fall. Something to add to that spring cleaning to-do list: your disability insurance policy. Not the first thing on your mind, right?
We get that. But if you are like the typical person who gets their disability insurance policy through work, receives a file or a binder of information and stashes it in your home files and never looks at it again, you may be in for a rude awakening if something should occur.
Let’s say you’re trimming the hedges and suffer a hand injury. If you’re a dentist or a chiropractor, that’s a serious injury that could put you out of work –and maybe out of business—for more than a few weeks. What would happen to your family’s income? You’d file a claim for disability. But do you have any idea of what kind of coverage is in place? How long you would have to be on short term disability before filing for long term disability? Or if your disability claim might be delayed or denied for some other, unexpected reason?
These are the issues that take people by surprise when they haven’t reviewed their disability insurance policies.
Disability insurance claims are unlike any other claim because, for one thing, there is no downside for the disability insurance company if they deny your claim. The only exposure a disability insurance company has is the cost of the benefits that they should have paid you. When a claim is denied, you lose income, and you might go through your savings and even lose your home. That’s why it’s important to know what is in your policy and to work with an experienced disability insurance attorney.
Disability insurance claims are costly to the companies that write the policies. A high-income earner’s claim is more likely to be denied because of the higher cost. Let’s say you own a policy that you bought on your own (private insurance) and you also have a disability insurance policy through your employer (an ERISA policy). If the combined policies pay $20,000 a month, and you are in your mid-50s, that’s going to cost both insurance companies a significant sum by the time you hit 65.
Another basic issue for disability insurance claims: the “own occ” and the “any occ” clauses of the policy. If you are a surgeon, you hopefully have an “own occupation” policy that specifically insures your income as a surgeon. This is an invaluable difference. If you have had any kind of training for a specific occupation, the policy insures your ability to perform the specific tasks and duties. If not, the disability insurance company will claim that even if you can’t perform as a brain surgeon, you can certainly take on many other jobs and be gainfully employed.
If you have questions about your long-term disability insurance policy or your claim has been denied or terminated, call us today and find out how we can help. The call is free – 877-LTD-CLAIM (877-853-2524).