Understanding the Need for Attorney Disability Insurance
It’s a fact that disabling injuries or illnesses can affect anyone at any time, with or without warning. Attorneys are not immune to experiencing career-threatening disabilities at any stage of their careers. After spending a large sum of money on the education and training necessary to pursue a career as an attorney, it’s essential for lawyers to get quality individual disability insurance for attorneys policy that allows them to protect both their current incomes and future earning potential.
In many cases, people who become disabled don’t completely lose the ability to work, yet can still experience a significant loss of income. The best attorney disability insurance plans cover many circumstances other than a complete and total disability. It isn’t uncommon for attorneys to experience disability-related loss of income without ever going through a period of time during which they are completely unable to work. That’s why the best disability insurance for lawyers includes residual disability coverage that doesn’t require loss of time and duties in order to pay disabilities.
Understanding Own Occupation Attorney Disability Insurance
After spending years to complete law school and build a profitable practice, no attorney wants to find him or herself having to start over in a new career as the result of a disability. That’s why disability insurance for lawyers is such an important part of any attorney’s financial planning strategy. When choosing a disability policy, it’s essential to choose one that is designed specifically to meet the needs of attorneys.
Look closely at the exact language used to clarify the definition of disability in the policy so there is no question about the circumstances under which you’ll be eligible to receive benefits. Make sure you verify that any illness and accident disability insurance policy you’re considering purchasing clearly states that benefits are paid if become unable to work in your own occupation as the result of a disability. Avoid any policy that uses an “any occupation” definition of disability so that you can have benefits with an “own occupation” policy if you aren’t able to continue working as an attorney.
An attorney who becomes unable to work for a period of time loses the ability to earn income while disabled and possibly as well for a period of time following the disability. Once an attorney is able to go back to work, his or her income may not return to the level it was pre-disability right away.
Unlimited Recovery Benefit for Attorneys
After being away from work for a while, attorneys can expect to spend much of their time focused on rebuilding their client books before starting to generate much revenue. It can often take quite a bit of time for a lawyer’s income to recover after returning to work following a disability.
This is why it’s advisable for attorneys to select a policy with a residual disability rider that includes an unlimited recovery benefit. When your attorney disability insurance policy includes an unlimited recovery benefit, you’ll continue receiving residual disability benefits after you’re able to go back to work until your income recovers, up to the maximum length of time specified in the policy.
Attorneys Know Better Than to Rely on Social Security Disability
Who better than an attorney to the importance of individual disability insurance coverage? While many people have the misconception that social security provides sufficient protection for people who become disabled, most attorneys are all too familiar with the fact that qualifying for social security disability benefits can be quite difficult.
Any attorney with experience in disability insurance litigation realizes that there’s no guarantee of receiving federal disability benefits. While disability insurance attorneys are dedicated to helping their clients fight for the benefits they deserve, they often choose to seek the protection of individual attorney disability insurance coverage to keep themselves from having to face a similar fight following a disability.
Disability Insurance for Self Employed Attorneys
As an attorney, you may have chosen to open your own practice rather than working for a corporation or becoming an associate at a large firm. Working in your own private practice can be very rewarding but it also involves an additional element of risk and responsibility. It’s essential to take out sufficient illness and accident disability insurance to protect your personal income as well as to make sure you have access to the funds necessary to cover your business overhead expenses if you experience a disability.
As a self-employed attorney, you are a legal professional and a small business owner. Keeping the doors of your firm open are both dependent on your ability to generate income. If you become disabled and unable to work, you may not have money coming in to pay your personal living expenses or to take care of the costs associated with owning a business, such as rent, staff salaries, taxes, licensure, etc.
The best way to protect yourself, your family, and your business is to take out an individual attorney disability insurance policy to protect your personal income and a separate business overhead policy to cover the costs of keeping the business up and running until you’re able to rebuild your client base and billable hours once you’re able to return to work.
Disability Coverage Considerations for Law Firm Partners
Many law firms offer disability insurance to employees as a group benefit. While there are advantages to participating in your firm’s group benefits, in most circumstances group disability coverage isn’t sufficient income protection for a successful attorney. For the highest earners in a law firm, there is likely to be a gap between the coverage provided under the terms of the company’s group disability benefit plan and the income protection they really need.
That’s why individual disability insurance can be such an essential component of sound financial planning for successful legal professionals. When making decisions about long term disability insurance, lawyers have to carefully consider the full financial implications of experiencing a disability.
It’s often advisable for law firms or the individual attorneys to set up individual disability insurance coverage for partners and the leading attorneys in the firm rather than just depending on group disability coverage to. In larger firms, sometimes even individual policies can be issued on a “guaranteed issue” basis or what’s called simplified issue. With or without this, a successful attorney should arrange for individual disability insurance with “own occupation” coverage to supplement any group disability insurance plan.
Choosing Attorney Disability Insurance Coverage
Selecting the best disability insurance for attorneys requires careful consideration and research. It’s essential to make sure you fully understand exactly what’s included in the disability policies you are considering before you choose an income protection plan. As an attorney, it’s likely that you truly understand the importance of making sure you understand every word specified in any legally binding agreement before signing it. This includes the terms and conditions specified in an attorney disability insurance policy.
Take the time to read every word of each illness and accident disability insurance policy that seems to meet your needs. The differences from one policy to the next can be quite significant. Be sure to closely examine the exact wording of any policy you are considering. Don’t assume that even the basic policy provisions are the same from one insurer to another.
The best disability insurance for lawyers provides own occupation coverage with a residual rider that specifies income replacement rather than loss of time and duties benefits. Don’t purchase a policy without making sure that it provides the full scope and protection of long term disability insurance lawyers need to recover from a disability.
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In my 20+ years as an independent life and disability insurance broker, I have personally assisted thousands of clients with their life and disability insurance needs. Being independent, I represent many highly-rated insurance companies and, because I am not beholden to any one insurance company, my focus is to find the right company and policy for each individual client. I believe that when people shop for insurance (or anything else, for that matter) on the Internet, they are looking for a simple, non-intrusive, non-pressure method of doing so. I strive to treat my prospective clients with the utmost respect and I believe an educated prospect can make the right decision without sales pressure. Please feel free to contact me at your convenience.