The point of long-term disability insurance is to replace your income if you’re disabled and unable to work for an extended period of time — maybe a few years or maybe until you qualify for retirement benefits at age 65.
If you’re self-employed, then likely you know just how much the flu or even a short-term injury can set you back. If you are out of the “game” for even a short period of time, then there is a direct impact on your bottom line. There is no sick leave to fall back on, is there?
What if an illness or injury were to take you out of the game for an extended period of time? You might just lose your business and, with it, your home and the rest of your assets. That is not a pretty picture, is it? Maybe it would be worth taking a look into the possibility of long-term disability insurance, but according to a recent Reuters article, long-term disability insurance is far more difficult to underwrite for the self-employed.
The purpose of long-term disability insurance is to replace income that might be lost if you are incapacitated for a long period of time, or for some, at least until age 65 (when social security kicks in instead). However, the self-employed have the problem of either “being” their business, or being unable to prove the full extent of their business.
If you own an actual business, rather than operate as a freelancer or individual agent, then the first case is your problem. The insurance will pay out in accordance with what it thinks you actually live on, your gross minus your business expenses (roughly what you pay income taxes on), but that just might mean cutting out necessary business costs (like licenses). While extra protection can be purchased, there is the extra expense to consider.
If you are a freelancer or just work on a case to case basis, then you’ll also have to work to prove your income to the insurance underwriter. If they have trouble pinning down your actual income, then it makes it difficult for them to properly assess how much your policy would cost and how much it might offer in protection. In the end, the insurance company simply may elect not to offer coverage.
At any rate, the original article is worth a look. It is, after all, an important issue to bear in mind. If you are your own boss, then plan accordingly.
Reference: Reuters (August 16, 2011) “Self-employed? How to find disability insurance”