Best Practices for Buying Disability Insurance Online

For decades, Americans have been using disability insurance as a means of insuring their income and protecting their families, their future and their quality of life from the financial impact of a debilitating injury or illness. Today, gathering information and obtaining a disability policy has become more convenient than ever before with thanks to the internet. Twenty years ago, you likely would have purchased this type of coverage from someone who knocked on your door or was referred to you by a colleague or neighbor. Today, more people have become adapt to the convenience of finding the information they want, when they want it through “search” and social media. For this reason, it is critical that consumers know what they should be looking for and who they should be working with when it comes to purchasing disability insurance online.

Understanding Disability Insurance

There is no need to become an expert, but having a basic understanding of DI and its provisions and definitions can provide consumers with significant benefit. This type of coverage is complex and should be purchased based on the definitions and provisions used in the contract rather than the pricing. Understanding the various options available in today’s marketplace can empower consumers to avoid making the wrong purchase.

Before reviewing individual quotes, consumers should focus on understanding the following key terms:

– Non-cancelable and guaranteed renewable

– Definition of total disability

– Residual disability benefits

– Benefit limitations for mental and nervous conditions

– Benefit type (“base” or “social insurance substitute”)

– Elimination period

– Benefit period

– Optional policy riders

Sites such as, and are excellent sources for information on DI and descriptions of benefits.

Working With an Experienced Advisor

Everyone wants to work with an experienced professional when it comes to financial services – but what truly qualifies an insurance advisor as being an expert in DI and how can consumers determine this when working with them over the internet and telephone? This can be done by looking for three simple things:

  • Experienced agents generally make recommendations for a policy based on the quality of the coverage rather than the price. In dealing with an experienced advisor it is likely that he/she will try to fully understand a person’s situation and explain the importance of certain policy provisions before ever providing a quote or discussing the premium. Consumers should see this as a positive sign and take advantage of the advice being offered as this is one area where the true value of working with an experienced agent can be found.
  • The insurance companies that an advisor represents can also provide some indication of his/her experience and understanding of DI. If the agent is truly experienced with this specific type of coverage, he/she will likely recommend a select group of providers – favoring those that offer the most comprehensive coverage. In having a basic understanding of the different provisions available, consumers can determine whether the recommendations made are appropriate and therefore determine the experience level of the agent.
  • The third factor in determining the expertise of an agent is in regard to the number of DI policies he/she has in force. Although many insurance agents are licensed to sell DI, most do not sell more than 1-3 policies per year. Even an agent who has 20 years of industry experience, may not truly be experienced with DI specifically. An agent who has sold numerous policies is likely to have experienced a wider array of difficulties and circumstances, and should therefore be more sufficiently prepared to accommodate and develop unique solutions for each consumers needs. Below is a simplified table illustrating experience levels based on number of policies sold.

An agent, working with the top DI providers who has sold:

  • Fewer than 10 individual policies can typically be considered inexperienced.
  • Between 10-25 individual policies can typically be considered a beginner.
  • Between 25-100 individual policies can typically be considered experienced.
  • Greater than 100 individual policies can typically be considered an expert.

Recommendations for Your Situation

An appropriate recommendation with respect to DI can only be made after understanding a person’s overall employment, health and financial situation. Although the quality of a DI policy is extremely important, it can mean different things to different people based on a series of criteria such as medical history, occupational classification, employment structure, etc. Based on the risk associated with each occupation, an attorney or CPA will be eligible for substantially more comprehensive coverage than an electrician or plumber.

This does not mean that plumbers should not have disability coverage, rather simply that comprehensive can mean different things to different professionals. It is therefore important to work with an experienced agent who can assist you in understanding and selecting the most comprehensive professional disability insurance for your circumstances.