A couple of months ago, we went to an out of state family reunion. The original plan was for me and M to drive and Danny to fly since he doesn’t get vacation days and it makes more sense financially for him to be gone less days, even factoring in the price of a plane ticket. One week before we left, I randomly checked airline tickets and they were on sale for $144 ROUND TRIP! This is unheard of– flying out of Tulsa can be crazy expensive since it is such a tiny airport. I was stoked and booked the tickets even though it meant Danny would be flying on a different flight the night before since he already booked his ticket.
As planned, Danny left the night before me and M. When I landed the following morning and turned my phone back on, I had tons of text messages from Danny’s mom, who was very concerned. Over night, Danny had lost vision in one of his eyes. The white part of his eye was red and brown and protruding on the outside of his eye! So gross and scary looking. I’ll spare you pictures (actually, I’ll put some in my Instagram stories. Proceed with caution.)
When he called our local ophthalmologist here in Tulsa, he told him “get here now.” When Danny tried to explain that he couldn’t, the ophthalmologist interrupted him and said no, there is nothing more important than getting here now. You may permanently lose your vision. (as if Danny wasn’t freaked out enough). Danny then explained we were out of state and the ophthalmologist recommended another doctor where Danny’s mom drove him immediately.
Danny had developed a weird infection in his eye. After enduring hours of poking and prodding into his eyeball (literally, he got several antibiotic shots to his eye!) they released him from the hospital and he got to come home, still without vision. Those first few days were really scary. Eventually, after several rounds of antibiotics and all kinds of crazy treatment, Danny’s vision was restored and he’s doing GREAT now.
All we could think about during this experience is how bad of an idea it was to not buy disability insurance for Danny. When Danny started working, we decided not to buy disability insurance for him since I had decent earning potential as a lawyer and could provide for our little fam if needed. Plus, with my job, I have disability insurance. But the truth is, we rely heavily on Danny’s income, at least for now while we are paying off debt. This experience completely changed how I look at disability insurance.
Should I get disability insurance?
One of the most valuable assets that you have is your ability to earn an income. Which is exactly why buying disability insurance is really important, for some people. Let me start by saying that not everyone out there needs disability insurance. Disability insurance is best for people who are young (under 60), have specialized training (for example, a heart surgeon) or people who are have injury prone professions, or people who are otherwise involved in manual labor type of professions. But that’s not all! If your family has one bread-winner, it’s probably a good idea to get disability insurance for the bread-winner. If, on the other hand, your family does not rely on your income, you are probably OK without it.
At the last dental association conference Danny and I spoke at, we listened to an insurance salesman claim that 1 in 4 dentists will become disabled before retirement! I have no idea if that is true, but dang that’s a stark number. I bet he sold a lot of policies that day.
There are two kinds of disability insurance– short term and long term. Don’t waste money on a short term insurance policy. Short term disability insurance only kicks in after you’ve used all of your sick days at work, and its designed to only cover a few days (or often up to six months) of leave. Keep in mind that it only kicks in a portion of your salary. It’s a better idea to create emergency savings if you ever need to take a short break from work.
Long term disability insurance on the other hand is designed to kick in if you need an extended absence from work. That’s the kind that may be worth purchasing, depending on your age, whether your the bread winner, and whether your job required specialized training or manual labor.
Where should I get disability insurance?
The best place to get disability insurance is most likely going to be from your employer. If your employer does not offer it, ask them about adding it.
Otherwise, you are going to be buying disability insurance from an independent agent. Some of the most popular companies are Guardian, MassMutual, Northwestern Mutual, The Standard, and Principal. When you work with an agent, ask them any questions you have and really take advantage of their expertise. They get paid a commission of whatever plan you purchase, so don’t feel bad asking them questions and vetting out each of your options.
While disability insurance isn’t for everyone, it is definitely worth looking into to determine if its right for you. In our situation with Danny’s eye (even though we ended up not needing it at all) it certainly would have given us some peace of mind to have had it! We recently refinanced Danny’s student loans and are making aggressive payments to pay them off as fast as we can (read more about that here). If we had lost Danny’s income and not had disability insurance, we would have been in a really big pickle!
Do you have disability insurance? Why or why not?