Disability Claims for Professionals and Executives in Alabama
What Is Executive Disability Insurance?
Everyone has heard about homeowner’s insurance in case your home is damaged. Everyone has heard about car insurance in case you’re in a car crash or life insurance for your family in case of a tragedy.
What about your biggest asset? If you are a doctor, lawyer, business owner, accountant, corporate executive, or one of the many other high-wage-earning occupations, your biggest asset is your income stream from that specialized occupation. If you spent twenty years in medical school, residency, internships, and countless hours earning the right to practice in your special field, what happens to your financial obligations in the event you lose that ability?
Individual Disability Income insurance is sold to tens of thousands of Alabamians every year to provide income protection in the event the wage earner in your family can no longer work, or their income is significantly reduced. Triggering the income stream that is available in the form of a monthly benefit under an individual disability insurance policy requires an understanding of the way the insurance policy terms are interpreted by the courts and the way that insurance companies try to trip up unsuspecting claimants so they can then deny the claim.
We have seen thousands of long-term disability benefits that have not been paid because hard-working people tried to do it themselves and made a mistake that the insurance company took advantage of.
For someone who has struggled through decades of education, to suddenly lose the ability to work in your specialized occupation can be a traumatic event. We understand the needs of professionals and represent them on a regular basis.
Our team prides itself on being the most professional disability lawyers in the courtroom. The complexities of these types of claims demand we be more focused and driven than the other side. The reason is simple: many insurance companies will do whatever it takes to avoid paying large disability claims.
Most of the time, the insurance company will try to confuse the issues, making the case seem so complex that it’s impossible to decide who’s right and wrong. They are professionals at muddying the water, moving the goalposts, and spinning straightforward facts. We fight to undo all their defenses to your claim in the way that you would want someone to represent you.
Being a member of a specialized profession usually means you are a type-A personality. It also means you will be inclined to try to do the work yourself in handling your claim. Do not make this mistake. If you would not practice outside of your specialty before your disability, don’t start now. Whether you’re trying to navigate a long-term disability insurance company’s demands for proof of your condition or working to withdraw from the practice and business due to a disability, don’t go it alone.
Over the course of the past two-plus decades, we have worked with professionals to help them navigate the minefield of withdrawing from a profession they love. Our experience includes a focus on both group insurance benefits and individual disability insurance policies. You paid for a safety net for you and your family in the event you needed it. Let us help make sure that the safety net is not stolen by the callous conduct of an insurance adjuster.
Traditional Disability Insurance vs. Executive Insurance
What we refer to as traditional disability insurance policies are typically purchased with little to no negotiation or effort. They are sold by disability insurance companies to individuals and groups of employers using standard terminology and definitions. The standard terms typically include:
- Lower benefits typically pay around 60% of what you earned before your disability.
- Less favorable definitions of disability typically start with a small window of a couple of years of your occupation coverage, then switch to require you to prove you are unable to work in any occupation.
- More material and substantial duties you must prove you cannot perform.
- More exclusions to coverage that allow insurance companies more leverage to deny your disability claim.
- Typically issued in bulk to groups of employees, making ERISA apply, thus increasing the likelihood that your claim will be denied.
- More offsets, meaning the insurance company can lower the benefit it pays if you get benefits from other sources such as Social Security Disability.
- Coverage and benefits end at age 65 or your normal retirement age under Social Security.
Professional or executive disability policies are tailored to the individual and occupation in question. They are the result of meetings with agents and the selection of specific policy terms. The policies are much more expensive, sometimes costing several thousands of dollars a year in premium payments. However, that increased cost should result in more beneficial terms that favor the insured to include:
- “Own Occupation” or “Own Specialty” definition of disability that uses your own occupation as the measure of disability. One example: a surgeon, upon completion of residency, purchases a ‘specialty rider’ for their disability insurance policy. This means that if, due to injury or illness, the surgeon can no longer perform surgeries, they receive the full disability benefit. Even if the surgeon goes on to teach at a medical school.
- Higher benefit amounts. The professional or executive policy typically provides a fixed amount of monthly benefits, not linked to how much you were making just prior to your disability.
- Fewer offsets (reductions) to your disability benefits and fewer exclusions to coverage
- Sold individually (i.e., not group insurance coverage).
- Contain ‘residual disability benefits’ where benefits are paid based on the amount of income you have ‘lost’ because of your disability. These residual disability benefits are paid even if you are still working.
Unique Cases We Have Handled on Behalf of Professionals
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