Whether you work with a small firm, large firm or run a solo practice, this article is intended to facilitate the process of researching (IDI) individual disability insurance for attorneys.
As an attorney, you understand the importance of contract language and interpretation. In comparing disability insurance policies, it should be clear that the wording in some contracts will favor the insured more than with others. Considering that this insurance is specifically intended to replace a portion of your income during a time that you are too sick or injured to work, the underlying goal in securing an IDI policy should be to purchase the policy that is most likely to pay you the largest benefit amount in the greatest number of circumstances.
For the following reasons, the Provider Choice IDI¹ policy issued by Berkshire Life Insurance Company of America, a Guardian subsidiary - should be considered as one of the most attractive options available to attorneys today.
Consumer friendly definition of total disability:
Perhaps the most important feature of a disability insurance policy is the definition of total disability or totally disabled it is this clause that describes the circumstances under which a benefit may be payable. Berkshire offers attorneys a True Own-Occupation definition of total disability which states that an attorney is considered totally disabled if, solely due to injury or sickness, he/she is unable to perform the material and substantial duties of his/her occupation, even if he/she is gainfully employed in another occupation. This definition is seen by most financial and legal professionals as the most comprehensive and consumer-friendly option available due to its simple description which provides the most favorable interpretation for the insured.
Partial disability benefit tailored to fee-for-service professionals:
A close second to the definition of total disability is the partial disability benefit a policy provides, which pays benefits during periods of partial disability. An attorney can be considered partially disabled if solely due to sickness or injury, his/her loss of income is at least 15% of the prior income. It is important to note that the Provider Choice Enhanced Partial Disability Benefit rider does not require a loss of time or duties in addition to the 15% loss of income, which for a fee-for-service professional may be critical. Even after an attorney has fully recovered and returned to gainful employment, he/she may continue to receive benefits up to the end of the benefit period as long as his/her loss of income remains at 15% or greater and is solely the result of the injury or sickness that caused the disability. This can be particularly critical in rebuilding a practice and client base following an extended disability claim.
Competitive occupational classification and pricing:
Simply put, occupation classifications are the insurance industries method of categorizing various occupations into risk categories. Attorneys generally qualify for the most favorable occupation class available, which in turn provides the most attractive benefit levels, policy features and pricing. Berkshire offers attorneys an occupation class 6, which is their highest classification and therefore affords attorneys the most competitive pricing available. In comparing IDI policies offered by many of the major insurance carriers however, one can quickly notice that Berkshire offers attorneys some of the most attractive pricing industry-wide. Without accounting for multi-life and association discounts that may apply, most attorneys would pay less and receive equally or more comprehensive coverage by purchasing the Provider Choice IDI policy.
There are numerous insurance companies currently offering comprehensive IDI policies, which means that attorneys have their pick. By purchasing the Provider Choice IDI policy however, attorneys can secure one of the most comprehensive policies at the most competitive rates available today.
¹Individual disability insurance policy Forms 18ID, 18UD, 18GI, 1400, 1500, and 1600 underwritten and issued by Berkshire Life Insurance Company of America (BLICOA), Pittsfield, MA. BLICOA is a wholly owned stock subsidiary of The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America (Guardian), New York, NY. Product provisions and availability may vary by state. In New York: These policies provide disability insurance only. They do not provide basic hospital, basic medical or major medical insurance as defined by the New York State Insurance Department. For policy forms 18ID, 1400, 1500, and 1600 the expected benefit ratio is 50%. For policy forms 18UD, 18GI, 18UD-F, and 18GI-F, the expected benefit ratio is 60%. The expected benefit ratio is the portion of future premiums that the company expects to return as benefits, when averaged over all people with these policy forms. Optional riders are available for an additional premium. Product provisions and availability may vary by state.