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Your Complete Guide to Buying Disability Insurance

If you already know what you’re looking for and don’t need our complete guide to buying disability insurance, or if you just want to jump straight to what must be considered when buying disability insurance, go to the bottom of this article for the summary.

Guide to Buying Disability

You’ve decided to purchase disability insurance, and being an intelligent consumer, you’re doing your homework. Any large purchase should be thoroughly researched.  Whether you’re buying disability insurance, a home, a car, or choosing which investments might be suitable for your IRA, you should know what you’re buying and why it suits your needs. Our guide to buying disability insurance is a starting point for your research.

As we make more of our major purchases online, it only makes sense the insurance products we use to protect our financial lives will also fit this category.  However, there are differing complexities regarding the insurance products most high-income individuals purchase.

Disability insurance has a lot of moving parts from application to claim, and if you truly want to have your coverage customized and do exactly what you need it to, it is essential to work with an expert, unbiased agency.


By working with an expert , you’ll be confident your policy will fit your needs and will be there when you need it. Unfortunately, the insurance industry is fairly generalized.  All an agent or financial advisor needs to sell a disability insurance policy is a life/health license. Does that mean they can design your policy correctly?  Maybe…but most people we work with prefer to work with experts when making an important purchase.

To add, disability insurance is often sold as an ancillary product and is rarely a specialty for an insurance agent/financial advisor.  It is difficult to gain competence, let alone a level of expertise, when one is helping a client buy a product infrequently and by happenstance.  Our guide to buying disability insurance is built to help you ask the right questions from whoever you decide to purchase your policy.


While not inherent, most insurance agents will have a natural bias towards certain carriers.  This can come from familiarity, ease of doing business, or even compensation.

Even more challenging, there are agents that aren’t independent.  That means they either must place you with their company’s insurance policy, or they at least must present it first and can only pivot to another carrier should you not be approved.

These considerations are important as are several other factors.  To get more information, please check out this post: 5 Tips for Buying Disability Insurance Online

Who We Are

At www.highincomeprotection.com, our only focus is on protecting our clients’ most valuable asset, their ability to earn money.

With decades of experience, our independent agency strives to provide you with the ideal coverage for your situation.  Because we’re independent, we can shop from all the major carriers and secure the best policy for your needs.

This guide to buying disability insurance was created to help you get started.  We are here to help you get to the finish line. For more detailed information, please see how we help you buy disability insurance.

When all is said and done, the most important thing is that your income is protected.  Whether you call it income protection, paycheck protection, or simply disability insurance, there isn’t a more important major purchase you can make in the insurance world.  Protecting your income is crucial.

We would be remiss if we didn’t mention another important insurance policy that nearly everyone needs in their files: term insurance.

Term Insurance

Term insurance plays a major role in protecting your income should premature death occur.  While fairly commoditized, there are nuances to underwriting, conversion, and structure that must be addressed.  Any of these factors can contribute to unnecessarily high premiums or a lack of flexibility, issues no one desires in any of their insurance products.

While this site focuses on disability insurance, we offer term insurance as well.  If you’re unsure about how much you need, this life insurance calculator can help you determine the amount and the pricing for a large universe of insurance companies.

Your Guide to Buying Disability Insurance

Starting at square one, people looking into buying disability insurance sometimes ask: So, what is disability insurance, anyway?”

While there are many forms of disability insurance, high-income individuals typically need one type over all the rest: long-term disability insurance.

Selecting the right disability insurance is often a function of your income. Having a guide to buying disability coverage is a start, but having an in-depth conversation is better.

Still, some people might be unsure how much disability insurance is the right amount for them.  If that’s the case, look at our disability insurance calculator (provided by Principal) to see how much coverage is necessary for your situation.

Long-term disability insurance is built to replace your income, should you suffer an illness or have an accident that prevents you from doing your occupation and earning income.  There are three major components to consider when purchasing the best policy for your needs.  Those are the policy design, underwriting, and selecting the right carrier.

Unfortunately, there really isn’t much of a step by step process.  All three must be considered simultaneously when selecting the best disability insurance policy for your situation.

Policy Design

Policy Design

The policy design dictates who the policy covers, who gets paid if a disability occurs, what it takes to go on claim, how much the benefit will be, how long the benefit will last, and how much the policy will cost.

Policy design is a back and forth discussion between you and your agent.  Some items, such as health or occupation, aren’t very flexible.  Others, such as benefit amount, length, and elimination period, are customizable and have a direct effect on your total premiums.

If you’d like more information on policy design, start with our primer: Disability Insurance 101: Policy Design.  It provides a breakdown of the components of a disability insurance policy and how each part affects your coverage and pricing.

Policy Underwriting

 Insurance Underwriting

Insurance underwriting plays a major role in the pricing of your policy and the conditions for which you can go on claim.

Underwriting is a part of almost all insurance policies, from your auto and home to your life insurance.  Disability insurance underwriting is no exception.

There are differences, mainly centered on your occupation and any pre-existing conditions.  Certain occupations have more stringent underwriting regarding your duties, which is what you do at your job.  Also, disability insurance policies can exclude certain health issues from claim.  This means that, if you have lower back pain from a bad fall, for example, then your policy might exclude any claim based on back pain, even if it causes you to miss work.

As part of our guide to buying disability insurance, we have a great disability insurance underwriting guide that goes into much more depth. It is best to contact us and discuss the underwriting process before putting in a disability insurance application.  We can shop your case with all of the main carriers to see who will provide you with the best offer.

Disability Insurance Companies

Like most insurance products, there is no such thing as a “best” company.  Where one company can be perfect for a particular individual, it might inappropriate for another.

However, the individual disability insurance space is limited in available companies (also known as carriers).  Whereas the life insurance industry has over 100 carriers offering policies, our industry barely has a dozen. Plus, some carriers in this limited space have sub-par offerings.  If you’re going to use our guide to buying disability insurance from start to finish, the carrier selection step is where you put all of your knowledge to work.

In certain situations, we might have two disability insurance companies with similar underwriting and policy design options for a nominal difference in price.  If this happens, there are two important points to consider: carrier rating and claims.

Carrier Rating

First, we look at carrier rating.  Carrier ratings are defined by A.M. Best and are based on the claims-paying ability of the insurance company. There are practically no carriers offering long-term disability insurance that are less than A- (Excellent) rated, so if there is a substantial price differential or underwriting advantage, all carriers are fair game.

However, if an A+ or even A++ carrier offers a similar policy to a lesser rated one, then the decision to go with the better rating becomes obvious.


Next, we look at contract language and personal experience.  Essentially, how easy is it to make a claim?  Simple language that has little “gotcha” statements is important.  Also, utilizing decades of experience, we have a good feel for which carriers are difficult to go on claim with versus those that work with the insured to pay claims.

To add a quick disclaimer:  nearly all carriers will allow claims on a severe disability.  These are disabilities that occur when a devastating illness or accident leaves you needing extra assistance (something the carriers call catastrophic or presumptive disability).  Issues arise when the disability is less clear and could be interpreted in multiple ways.  Residual disability (where you’re still working but not making the same income due to disability) is one situation.

The claims process is where it is important to have a great agency in your corner.  Even if you have an existing policy, we’re happy to become agent of record, so we can assist you should you ever need to make a claim.

Should you want to review any company, look at our disability insurance carrier page and see if you have a preference.


Either you read this entire page or you skipped ahead to get to this point; either way, welcome to our disability insurance summary.  Here, you’ll find everything you need to understand your disability insurance policy or quote as well as the summary of links from our guide to buying disability insurance.  As always, we recommend you contact us for a complimentary review or illustration.

Disability 101 Articles

Disability Insurance Policy Design

Disability Insurance Underwriting

Disability Insurance Companies

Disability Insurance for Business Owners

Your Occupation and Disability Insurance

Your Health and Disability Insurance

Disability Insurance FAQ

Purchasing Your Policy

How we help you buy disability insurance

What is disability insurance?

Should I buy disability insurance?

5 Tips for buying disability insurance online

Chris Huntley’s Nifty Life Insurance Comparison Tool

Are you interested in selling insurance?


Life Insurance Calculator

Disability Insurance Calculator


Life Quotes

Disability Quotes – White Collar

Disability Quotes – Blue Collar

If you’re looking for disability insurance, www.highincomeprotection.com is your source for expert, unbiased advice. Please contact us by completing the form on the left or by calling us at 888-636-2310.  We can help you find the long-term disability insurance policy that protects your family and finances from an extended loss of income.  We look forward to hearing from you.