At some point in time, nearly everyone has been warned to “read the fine print” before making a purchase – usually with an accompanying cautionary tale that makes your eyes pop open in disbelief! And most people would agree that it only makes sense to read the fine print, but what happens when you don’t understand what the fine print actually means? Let's face it, insurance policies of all varieties can be complex, containing details and terminology that would be quite difficult for many people to fully comprehend. If you've ever felt as though your insurance policy was written in a foreign language, you're not alone! As a result of these complexities, misunderstandings are bound to occur, and you may later experience some unpleasant surprises when it comes to your coverage. If you're preparing to purchase a long term disability (LTD) insurance policy, seeking professional advice is the best way to ensure that you understand all of the important components. A coverage lawyer in Illinois can review the policy with you, explain the fine print and demystify those puzzling details.
Comprehending all aspects of your policy, including eligibility requirements, benefits, definitions of total disability, and appeal rights can make a huge difference should you ever need to take advantage of your disability insurance. For the most comprehensive review of your plan, a consultation with a coverage lawyer in Illinois is your best bet – but in the meantime, here are a few items to become familiar with before meeting with your attorney.
The first step to understanding your LTD policy is to take note of your eligibility period, as most employer-sponsored plans include a waiting period of some type. This means that coverage will not be effective until an initial probation period is complete – typically three months from your hire date. On the other end of the spectrum, coverage generally stops immediately when employment ends. In most cases, in order to receive your disability benefits, you must have become disabled during your eligibility period. So, for instance, if you become disabled during those first three months of employment, you will not be eligible for benefits.
Somewhere in your LTD policy, you'll find a definition of "total disability." This is not a section to casually peruse – read this carefully! A long term disability policy will pay benefits only if you become totally disabled, but the definition of “totally disable” can vary significantly, and it can change within the same policy. There are two definitions to look for: "own occupation" and "any occupation." Under the own occupation definition, you are considered totally disabled if you are unable to perform the primary duties of your own occupation; whereas under the any occupation definition, you must be unable to complete the duties of any occupation for which you are reasonably qualified based upon your education, training or experience. Obviously, it is much more difficult to satisfy the any occupation definition. It is common for many group LTD policies to adhere to the own occupation definition for the first two years of disability, after which the policy pays benefits only if you are disabled from performing any occupation. However, this all depends upon your specific policy, so be sure to ask your coverage lawyer to clarify this for you. If you are purchasing LTD insurance separate from your employer’s group plan, you want to purchase an own occupation type policy without a definitional change.
If you ever need to utilize your LTD policy, you'll quickly learn that successfully collecting your benefits is not exactly a walk in the park. However, if you are proactive in seeking the advice of a knowledgeable coverage lawyer in Illinoisbefore you start the process, it can definitely be made easier. By knowing what to expect, you can drastically reduce the emotional and financial drain that others commonly experience during this complex process..
James T. Nyeste Attorney at Law CoverageLaw.com