You are the Asset! Protect Your Income Stream With the Right Disability Coverage

Jan. 27, 2011

It's that time of the year again. The red carpets are rolling out – Golden Globes, Emmys, Oscars – glamour and glitter galore! It's a good time for all entertainers to take a good look at their primary asset – themselves, says Frank N. Darras, the nation's top individual and long term disability lawyer.

Likewise, for athletes, with the big Super Bowl game fast approaching, it is a good time to take stock in how they are protecting themselves. Especially since their livelihoods depend on their performance and their physical health. "Entertainers and athletes in particular should not be caught without enough individual or team long term disability insurance to maintain their standard of living," says Darras. "They should shop for a policy that is specific to their occupation to ensure the soundest coverage they can get for their money."

Whether you are an entertainer or an athlete, you should be protected if something should happen and you find yourself unable to work for long periods of time. Make sure you have protection specific to your line of work which will help you preempt ERISAlegal struggles. ERISA applies to any group long term or short term disability plan unless you work for the government, school or a church. Company and union sponsored long term disability plans leave you unprotected with poor consumer rights should you need to file a disability claim.

It's those struggles with short and long term disability group ERISA governed policies that you want to avoid. Should you have to file a claim, legal recourse is limited and punitive damages are non-existent in the short and long term disability area. Remember, that before you can even file suit with your short term or long term disability denial you must timely exhaust the administrative appeal requirements and the process can take years from start to finish. Depending on timely payments from your short or long term disability policy can wipe out your personal wealth way before your case is decided.

Paying a little extra for an individual disability policy gives you the ability to be able to take advantage of the coverage you pay for when you need it. This can give you peace of mind in the event that an illness strikes or some accident occurs and you are unable to do what you do best. Individual disability policies protect your income stream so your lifestyle can be uninterrupted.

Darras offers this advice to take into consideration when purchasing individual disability insurance:

  • Buy young, buy a lot. Buying young gives you a more affordable premium and, purchasing the maximum benefit you can afford keeps your income stream as close as possible to your current standard.
  • If it is feasible, opt for a longer waiting period before benefits start. If your other investments will allow for this, you can keep premiums lower.
  • Go for the maximum benefit period – age 65 if you can afford it.
  • Own-occupation coverage is best. While you may not be able to play football if you are disabled, you may be able to coach or commentate. This coverage allows you to be productive at an occupation outside of the one you had when you became disabled and still receive individual disability benefits.
  • Read the fine print on your individual policy before signing. Some policies contain exclusions and restrictions on such things as mental health, chronic pain, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome and limit benefits to two-years or less.
  • Look for clauses that allow for guaranteed renewable premiums and make sure the policy is non-cancellable.
  • Especially important for entertainers and athletes is some type of cost-of-living adjustment clause. If you buy your individual disability policy in the early years of your career, you won't be earning as much as you might, say ten years down the road. This type of clause focuses on future income streams by allowing for inflation as well. Basically, the coverage increases as your income increases.

"Sound decisions early in your career will help guarantee financial security later on," say Darras. "Take time now to make sure you will be protected financially when it comes to individual, short and long term disability coverage."