What you need to know when you apply for Disability Insurance.

When you apply for Disability Insurance, here are a few things that are helpful for you to know in advance.  

The general application process includes the following:

  • Insurance Application
  • Medical Underwriting
  • Financial Underwriting
  • Approval Review and
  • Policy Acceptance

While this list may seem daunting at first glance, there’s good news for all you millennials, tech gurus, iPhone addicts, and just plain super busy professionals out there…the days of long cumbersome paper applications are gone!  

Insurance Application

Your first step when you apply for disability insurance will be to complete a Disability Insurance Application.  The entire disability application can be completed in roughly 10 minutes together over the phone, followed by an email link where you can electronically review and sign your application.  

Or, if you prefer to do it yourself (depending on which carrier you are applying to), we could simply send you a link to an electronic application to complete yourself.  In addition, for anyone who prefers, we could mail the full paper application to you to complete and return via fax, secure email, or traditional mail.  It would be our pleasure to provide whichever option is best for you, but just know that there are a few carriers no longer offer paper applications and require you to complete the application electronically.

Medical Underwriting

Your next step to apply for disability insurance would be to complete your medical and financial underwriting.  The word “underwriting” simply means that the carrier you have chosen will need to evaluate your information before extending an approval offer to you.  For students, residents, fellows, and first year attending physicians, a full medical exam is not typically required.  You would only be asked to complete a short health questionnaire over the phone with the insurance carrier.  This call would take roughly 20 minutes with the carrier inquiring about your health history.

For those who are required to take a full medical exam, an appointment could be setup very easily for you when you are ready to apply, and this exam would be fully paid for by the insurance carrier whose Disability Plan you are applying for.  You have the option of a licensed nurse practitioner coming to your home or office or having your examine conducted at a designated exam location if you prefer.  The exam typically consists of a routine physical with a blood draw and urine sample as well as standard health questions.  Examiners are usually available during normal business hours as well as in the evenings and weekends and will make every effort to book a time that is convenient given your schedule.  

Financial Underwriting

Financial underwriting simply means the insurance carrier may ask you to provide a copy of your pay stub and/or tax returns so they can verify your employment and income earning levels.  Financial underwriting would not apply for students or anyone still in training. If it is your first year in private practice, the financial underwriting is usually not required since you would not have any income documentation yet. But, if you are an independent contractor or you own a practice, the carrier may request your last two year’s of tax documents.

Approval Review

The typical underwriting time frame takes anywhere from 2-6 weeks from the time you have completed your application and taken your medical exam.  For anyone with a minimal health history, approval might come through in about two weeks.  For anyone with a health history that need to be evaluated, it might take as long as six weeks for the carrier to review your records before you are issued approval.

Once an approval is issued, we would review the approval details with you to make sure you are happy with the official offer of coverage.  Most of the time your application would be approved exactly as applied; however, there are some cases in which an approval is modified by the carrier based on one’s health or financial history.  At this time, you would also be able to make changes to your plan’s design if you wanted.  You could add or remove riders, change benefit amounts and make other desired tweaks to the way that your plan is set up before moving forward and accepting the policy.

It is important to mention at this point that when you apply for disability insurance, there is a possibility of getting denied coverage based on your previous health history.  If this does happen, we can look at other options in the market that might be more suitable for your situation.

Policy Acceptance

Once you have been approved and have confirmed your plan design, it’s time to accept your policy.  Your signature and your first payment are required to officially bind your coverage.  After that, your coverage will be effective immediately, and you can feel secure knowing you are protected.

The benefit of working with a seasoned, independent insurance agent is that they will be able to help you shop the market, select a plan that is best for you, and make the application and approval process simple and smooth.  

As always, we’re here to help!

Chris Wimberly

The Disability Doc

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*This information is solely used for general market educational purposes.  It does not provide legal rights or actual carrier policy language.  Please review the respective policies for the complete terms and conditions.