HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Insurance Department is reminding families that planning ahead can protect you financially in the event of a disability.
“Two of the most difficult topics for any family to discuss are likely death and disability,” said Insurance Commissioner Michael Consedine . “But having insurance for those things can be an important part of safeguarding a family’s future.”
“Life insurance is a fairly common financial tool, but private disability insurance is not used as much. However, if one or both spouses would become disabled during their working life, not having insurance can be a significant risk to a family’s ability to pay expenses.”
Private disability insurance policies are available on an individual or group basis. The coverage kicks in if a medical condition prevents you from working.
Disability insurance provides a portion of your paycheck. It is divided into two categories, short and long term, based on how long you are out of work.
Short-term disability kicks in soon after a claim is made, but it generally stops within two years.
Long-term disability takes longer to start, from 31 days to a pre-set time, but can last until the disabled person’s death. Among insurance products, long-term disability is among the most expensive.
If your employer offers disability coverage, find out if the coverage is enough to meet your income needs if you have an accident or disabling illness. If it is insufficient, your employer may offer the option of increasing your disability benefit, often through a voluntary payroll deduction.
There are other insurances which do replace income. These include Social Security disability benefits. These benefits can be paid to workers when a disability is expected to last at least 12 months and is so severe that gainful employment cannot be performed.
Also, an employer’s workers compensation insurance provides limited replacement income for job-related injuries.
Consumers are reminded to secure coverage only through a licensed insurance company or agent.
To see if a company or agent is licensed, go to www.insurance.pa.gov and click “online resources.” Consumers with questions may also call the department’s toll-free hotline at 877-881-6388.